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Betty Shabazz

Sister Betty

Betty Sanders was raised in Detroit, Michigan with the trappings of a middle-class life. In the 1950’s she went to New York to study psychiatric nursing. In New York, she became a member of the Nation of Islam. Sister Betty was well respected and worked hard at the Temple. Her work was recognized and she caught the eye of Malcolm X.

After a brief courtship, they married and began their life together. Malcolm X was the official spokesman for the Nation of Islam and he traveled a lot, but Sister Betty kept the family together. Then came Malcolm's split with the Nation of Islam and many things changed very quickly.

This dynamic woman’s life was marred by the assassination of her husband. Already they had four daughters and twin girls were born after her husband was assassinated. Raising them alone, Shabazz set an example for other women. She built a following of her own in the years after her husband's murder. She united politically active Black women, developed her own proteges and worked hard for political, educational and family causes. Her untimely death in 1997 touched the hearts and souls of many.

Billy Graham

Repent, accept Christ and be saved.

William Franklin Graham was born November 7, 1918 . Over the past 50 years Graham has preached to over 210 million people worldwide. Graham accepted Christ at the age of 16. Graham went to the Florida Bible Institute and graduated in 1940 and was ordained a Southern Baptist Minsister later that year. He went on to continue his education and at Wheaton College he recieved a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology in 1943. As a young minster his message was a simple one," Repent, accept Christ and be saved." That message has not changed over his 50 year career.

In 1943 he married Ruth McCue Bell, the daughter of a missionary surgeon in China. The young Grahams moved to Western Springs, Ill. where Graham took his firsat preaching job. There they started their family, the first of five children was born in 1945.

Within ten years his ministry grew and began to travel the world to spread his message .In Los Angeles,1949, Billy Graham preached to 350,000 people in a tent crudsade. The crusade started out as a three week event and went on for eight weeks. With the help of William Randolph Hearst's newspapers, Graham recieved a good amount of positive press. With the tent crusades crossing the country it wasn't long before he was on radio. He would soon master the new medium of television.

Through the years Graham became friends with eight presidents, starting with Harry Truman. In 1990 he met with Pope John Paul II and presented him with a quilt from North Carolina. Graham has visited with dictators and communist. In Moscow he preached for an end to the nuclear arms race. He has taken his ministry around the world.

Billy Graham gave his life to God over 65 years ago and has not turned back. Remarkably Graham is probably one of the most well-known American ministers around the world.

Clarence Thomas

b. 1948
Supreme Court Justice

Clarence Thomas was born June 23, 1948 in Pin Point, Georgia. He was the second child and first son of M.C. Thomas and Leola Williams' three children. Thomas's father abandoned the family when he was very young. His mother worked hard at supporting her three children. The Pin Point community was very poor, the people all worked at some kind of manual labor. There was no sewage system not paved roads.

When Thomas was seven years old he went to live with his grandfather, Myers Anderson in Savannah, Georgia. Living with his grandfather was a step up. He and his brother had regular meals and very much appreciated the indoor plumbing. Education was instilled in him, and early on he decided to become a priest. St. John Vianney Minor Seminary was an all white boarding school dedicated to training young priest. Thomas suffered racism at his school, he persevered and graduated with a good academic record.

Thomas continued his education, ending up at Yale Law School through it's affirmative action program. After graduation Thomas went to work in then State Attorney General John Danforth. This situation helped set the stage for Thomas' assent to the Federal Courts.

Nominated for the Supreme Court in 1991 to replace retiring Justice Thurgood Marshall, Thomas became the second Black to serve on the Supreme Court. Although a sexual harassment allegation during his nomination proceedings cast some doubt on his character. Thomas called the allegations "a high tech lynching", however, he was sworn in by a 52-48 vote.

Considered by some to be the most politically powerful Black man in America, he has not garnered the respect or prominence among blacks that his position would seem to engender. Many Blacks feel that his conservative views are not in synch with the majority of Black America, especially his views on Affirmative Action.

Thomas, who vehemently opposes Affirmative Action, is sometimes embarrassed to concede that his own admission to Yale Law School came as a result of Affirmative Action programs.

Thomas' views on "natural law", or a strict interpretation of the Constitution, has kept him in the Supreme Court's conservative majority.

David Duke

b. 1950
Klan Without Robes

Possibly the best-known racist currently active in politics, David Duke was born in 1950 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His father was a Shell Oil Company executive, and the family traveled extensively in Duke's early years. He attended school in the Netherlands, a military academy in Georgia, before settling in New Orleans where he attended high school.

Duke's father was an absent figure for most of his early life, and the young David found a mentor in James Lindsay, a New Orleans real estate dealer who founded the New Orleans Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960's. David joined while still in high school.

While at LSU, from which he earned a BA in History in 1974, he founded the neo-Nazi youth group White Youth Alliance. Becoming the National Director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1974, Duke tried to move the KKK into the mainstream with an appeal to moderate sensibilities. Bolstering the standard racist arguments with psuedo-scientific rationalizations, he attracted a large following whom he urged to "get out of the cow pasture and into hotel meeting rooms."

In 1978 he resigned and formed the National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP), a "white civil rights" organization, which even he was to admit was a "Klan without the robes."

In 1988 he ran for President of the United States on the Populist Party ticket with Bo Gritz as his running mate. Gritz ran for President himself as the Populist nominee in 1992.

Duke was elected in 1989 to the Louisiana House of Representatives, serving on committees for Health and Welfare, and Judiciary. Duke ran as a Republican, which infuriated Republican Party National Chairman Lee Atwater, whose party was attempting to attract minority voters. Atwater slammed Duke in a public statement, calling him "a pretender, a charlatan, and a political opportunist."

In 1991 he ran for Governor of Louisiana against Edwin Edwards, losing, but garnering 39% of the vote. In 1999 he ran for Rep. Bob Livingston's (R-LA) vacated seat, losing by 3000 votes to former Governor David C. Treen and state Representative David Vitter who entered a runoff against each other.

He was elected to Chairmanship of the Republican Parish Executive Committee of the largest Republican parish (county) in Louisiana. (St. Tammany RPEC, At-Large Representative, term 1996-2000.) By some reports, he was able to do so by the other candidates dropping out, and showing up at the courthouse to qualify at the last minute, ensuring his unopposed election.

Duke tried in the 90's to make it as a radio talk show host but proved not popular, and when he couldn't raise the money needed to finance the show, embraced the Internet and established the David Duke Report Online. His website is now known simply as, serving as a clearinghouse for Duke's publicity machine and hate organizations.

In Jan 2000 Duke announced formation of the National Organization for European American Rights (NOFEAR). He continues to be a focal point for racial hatred, and to gain publicity for his outspoken views.

Deford Bailey

DeFord Bailey was born in 1899 at Carthage, Smith County, Tennessee. His mother died when he was a little more than a year old, and his father's sister and her husband raised DeFord. Stricken with infantile paralysis at the age of three years old, the sick child was given a harmonica to amuse himslf. Bailey overcame polio. It left him with a deformed back and it affected his growth and he didn't grow very tall


However, his skill with the harmonica and his musical talent gained Bailey renown in the field of country music. Bailey's impressionable years were spent around the rural communities of Newsom's and Thompson's stations, located near the railroad, where Bailey composed many of his tunes on the harmonica. He had to go under a train trestle on the way to school, and Bailey said he would wait for the train to go over; then "I would get under it, put my hands over my eyes, listen to the sound, and then play that sound all the way to school." Bailey became famous for recreating the sounds of rushing locomotives. During teenage years, Bailey worked for a white storekeeper in Thompson's Station and played the harmonica, to the delight of the customers and the proprietor. He remained with the storekeeper for some time before joining his family in Nashville, where he held several jobs. He continued to play the harmonica.

On December 6, 1925, DeFord won second place with his rendition of "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More" in a French harp contest on radio station WDAD. Soon after, Bailey made his first appearance on WSM Radio, after overcoming some racial opposition from the station's director. The young black performer was given the title "Harmonica Wizard."

Bailey played a role in the naming of the "Grand Ole Opry." In 1926, the WSM Barn Dance followed an hour of symphonic music, and one evening its programming concluded with a selection by a young composer from Iowa reproducing the sound of a train. Bailey opened the country music program with his rendition of "Pan American Blues." The difference in the musical genres caused the director, George D. "Judge" Hay, to observe, "For the past hour we have been listening to music taken largely from grand opera; from now on we will present 'The Grand Ole Opry.'"

Bailey toured with other stars of the Opry, including Roy Acuff, Uncle Dave Macon, Bill Monroe, and others. During his travels throughout the South in the 1930s, he was well received by the country music public, although racial segregation laws caused Bailey problems in hotels and restaurants. To get a hotel room, on some occasions either he posed as a baggage boy for the white performers or pretended to be Uncle Dave Macon's valet.

In April of 1927, Bailey teamed with the black Golden Echo Quartet to make his first recordings of "Pan American Express" and "Hesitation" for Columbia Records in Atlanta. The Columbia recordings were never released. Two weeks later he recorded eight titles for Brunswick label in New York. On October 2, 1928, DeFord recorded for Victor records during a Nashville session. "Ice Water Blues/Davidson County Blues" became so popular that the Victor label released it three times.

Bailey's popularity peaked and waned within fifteen years. During the height of his popularity, he was allowed a twenty-five-minute performance on the three-hour Opry show. By 1941, he was off the Opry and beginning a thirty-year career of shining shoes at his shop on Twelfth Avenue, South. Apparently, WSM dropped Bailey because of his limited repertoire and his failure to convert to new tunes and written music. Bailey denied that he refused to learn new tunes; he claimed that the audience and the director insisted on hearing the old tunes.

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Bailey's career was remembered. He made an appearance on a local syndicated blues television show, "Night Train," and in 1965 he made a rare concert appearance at Vanderbilt University. He appeared on the Opry's oldtimers show in 1974 at the Ryman Auditorium. On December 14, 1974, Bailey celebrated his 75th birthday by appearing in the new Grand Ole Opry House and playing several of his old tunes. He played for the homecoming show on April 3, 1982.

DeFord Bailey died at the age of 82 on July 2, 1982. On June 23, 1983, the country music industry celebrated DeFord Bailey as the first African-American star of the Grand Ole Opry. The mayor unveiled a plaque in Bailey's honor, and a monument was placed at his grave site in Nashville's Greenwood Cemetery. Bailey's memorabilia was presented to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Eldrick "Tiger" Woods

b. 1975
Simply The Best

After winning golf's US Junior Amateur titles from 1991 to 1993 and the US Amateur championship from 1994 to 1996, Tiger Woods joined the professional ranks in August 1996. He was only 20. He immediately set a standard of excellence that earned him a huge following.

After being named the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Rookie of the year in 1996, Woods went on to shock the world in 1997. In that year he became the youngest player ever to win the Masters, the most prestigious of golf's championships.

Woods opened many doors for golfers of color and broke the stereotype that non-whites could not excel in a sport such as golf. In addition, Tiger Woods' popularity is helping to change the "old-boy" codes that have kept non-whites out of many of the more exclusive golf clubs. Woods is one of the most exciting young players in Golf today.

Woods is the first player and youngest at 24 to win all four majors (British Open, U.S. Open, PGA Championship and the Masters.

Ellen Ochoa

b. 1958

Born in Los Angeles, California, Ellen Ochoa received her masters degrees in science and electrical engineering from Stanford University after graduating from San Diego State University in 1980. Ochoa applied her studies to the field of optics. While at NASA's Ames Research Center she received patents for inventions in optical inspection systems, optical recognition methods, and a method for noise removal in images.

Her passion in optics led her to be selected to the astronaut program by NASA in 1990. After training at Johnson Space Center in Houston she became a full fledged astronaut in 1991. Ochoa's first mission took place on the Space Shuttle Discovery in April 1993, code named STS-56. As a Mission Specialist Ochoa conducted atmospheric and solar studies over a 9 day period.

Later Ochoa flew on a second mission, STS-66, in November of 1994. This time as a Payload Commander Ochoa studied the sun and its effects on our environment. In total Ochoa logged close to 500 hours in space. Her groundbreaking endeavors have garnered her many accolades among both the science and Latino community.

by Roberto Muñoz

Herb Jeffries

b. 1912
The Bronze Buckaroo"

Herb Jeffries was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 24, 1912. Born into a theatrical family, Jeffries sang with a local combo in his neighborhood and soon was performing on the radio.

In Chicago he was discovered by Earl "Fatha" Hines. With his wonderful baritone voice he performed with the greatest bands of the day. While traveling in the south, he noticed thousands of movie theaters showing White cowboy movies, but there were no Black cowboy movies.

This was in the 30's, and he wanted Black kids to have to have Black cowboy heroes too. While in Los Angeles on tour he started looking for backing to make cowboy movies and give Black kids a hero. He found the backing, but he still needed an actor to ride a horse, sing and act. Jeffries was blue-eyed and fair-skinned and didn't think he would be accepted.

With some makeup and a big white hat, he found himself the star of the movies he had envisioned. "The Bronze Buckaroo" was born, along with his horse "Stardusk". The Bronze Buckaroo gave Black kids the first and only Black singing cowboy. He even had a sidekick, Dusty. Jeffries starred in only four singing cowboy movies such as "Bob Blake, the Bronze Buckaroo." These movies are now classics.

One thing Jeffries did not do was ride off into the sunset. This jazz-era heartthrob at 84 years young is still going strong. He currently has a new CD, "Herb Jeffries, The Bronze Buckaroo Rides Again."

J.C. Watts, JR.

b. 1957
Sports Made Me A Republican

Historically Blacks belonged to theRepublican party , most turned from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party during the New Deal years. However, "The Grand Old Party" has recently seen a resurgence in its ranks among politically conservative blacks; chief among them are young men like J.C. Watts, Jr.

Born in Oklahoma, Watts believes that the Republican party is more in tune with the old-fashioned values of hard work, responsibility and self-help. He has espoused these virtues on the floor of the House of Representatives since 1994.

Formerly a professional quarterback in the Canadian Football League, Watts finds many similarities between himself and another famous Black Republican athelete: Jackie Robinson. Believing as Robinson did that success is determined by individual rather than group efforts, Watts also espouses this message as a guest preacher for Baptist churches.

Janet Reno

b. 1938

Janet Reno, first female US attorney general, was born in Miami, Florida, July 21, 1938 to Henry and Jane Wood Reno. Her father, a Danish immigrant, was a police reporter for the Miami Herald and moved his family to a 21 acre homestead near the Florida Everglades. Janet grew up at home in the wilderness, her mother having been a hunter and wrestler of alligators.

Reno became a state debating champion while in high school and attended Cornell University, studying chemistry and serving as president of the women's student government. Attending Harvard Law School, she graduated in 1963 as one of only 16 women in the class of 500 students.

Returning to Miami after graduation, she worked in private practice as a lawyer and as staff director of the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House of Representatives, to which she was appointed in 1971. After losing a bid for the state legislature, Reno took a position with the Florida state attorney's office, where she was assigned to reorganize the juvenile division.

Reno was elected state attorney in Dade County, Florida in 1978. Reno's tenure as state attorney was marred by riots over an unpopular verdict in 1980. Four Dade County police officers were prosecuted by Reno on charges of beating a black insurance salesman to death, but an all-white jury failed to convict, touching off riots from the community who thought the chief prosecutor had failed to prosecute aggressively enough. Outreach in the black community helped turn the rioters into some of Reno's strongest supporters.

Reno remain state attorney until 1993, when President Clinton appointed her US Attorney General. When Reno first received the call from the President, she declined the nomination, being burdened with the care of her ailing mother, whom she still lived with. After her mother's death in December, 1992, and Clinton's first two nominees had removed themselves from consideration, Reno accepted the post, becoming the first woman in history to hold the office.

Reno's tenure as US Attorney General was brought world-wide media attention during the stand off between self-anointed messiah David Koresh and officials of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. After 51 days, Reno called in tanks to invade the compound, with the plan being to drive the members of the cult out and save lives. Unfortunately, Koresh had other plans, and 85 people were ultimately killed as blazes set by cult members engulfed the compound in an inferno. Reno came under heavy criticism for was was termed her exceeding of bounds, but she accepted full responsibility for the plan and its consequences.

Reno continues to garner controversy in her wake, coming under fire for failing to hand over senior department memos during the Whitewater investigation. She also came under fire for her handling of the Ruby Ridge incident, but was praised for her operations during the Oklahoma bombing and for her advocacy of child abuse victims.

Reno has never married or had children, and calls herself, "...just an awkward old maid with a very great attraction to men." She continues to be extremely outspoken, and has a squeaky-clean reputation among both law officers and victims' rights advocates such as the ACLU. In 1995 she announced that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, but has thus far declined to become a spokesperson, although she continues to maintain her steady pace and is unwilling to allow the brain disorder to slow her down.

Reno has been offered many other judicial posts, such as a seat on Florida's Supreme Court. What her plans are after the Attorney General's office are unclear, but it's to be sure that she will continue to serve in some public capacity.

by Nancy McPoland

Jesse Ventura

b. 1951
"The Body and Brains"

Better known as Jesse "The Body" Ventura, however he was born James George Janos, July 15, 1951. He grew up in south Minneapolis. After high school he joined the Navy and trained as a Navy Seal. He later went to school on the GI Bill.

He held numerous jobs before finding himself in the World Wrestling Federation. For eleven years he wrestled in the WWF. After the WWF he became a actor, a radio talk show host and went on to become Major of Brooklyn Park. Ventura was Major for five years.

Politics called him again and this time he ran for govenor and won!. Ventura's victory astonished the entire political scene.

Ventura is still a favorite with his many fans, although he is no longer wrestling. As govenor of Minnesota "the Body" has had to make a lot of changes. Ventura is known for saying exactly what he thinks has gotten him in trouble numerous times. He has resigned himself to thinking before he speaks and getting on with his political agenda.

Jester Hairston


Jester Hairston is the grandson of slaves. His grandparents were slaves on Hairston plantation at Belew's Creek, North Carolina. Hairston was born July 9, 1901. An Arranger, Composer, Traveling Choir Leader, Actor and Story Teller. Remarkably his career has taken him all over the world. He has lectured and taught his arrangements and compositions of Negro Spirituals and folk songs to a couple of generations.

Hairston's life has been one of many facets. A career that started in the early 30's from Broadway to Hollywood. He was a star athlete in high school and college. He graduated college as a Cum Laude music major from Tufts University. He furthered his studies at Julliard School Music in New York.

For 13 years he was assistant conductor of the Hall Johnson NegroChoir of New York. He trained choirs for many Broadway show In 1936 he came to Hollywood with Hall Johnson to do the chorus music for "GREEN PASTURES." In 1937 he became a founding member of the Screen Actor Guild. In 1943 he formed his own choir and arranged the choral background music for many of Hollywood's outstanding films. "CARMEN JONES" was one of the many musicals he did, it starred Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte.

As an actor Hairston played a number of character roles on TV and the big screen. He played on Amos and Andy for 15 years, both on TV and Radio Music Hall shows. Hairston said, "When I worked on Amos 'N' Andy I couldn't let it botherme that the other black characters were played by white because what could I do? It offended me, but the only way that a black man could get a role was to go ahead and take whatever the white man would give him because the pictures and studios belonged to him.

I didn't make any fuss. If I had, they would have called me a communist and ran me out of Hollywood. There weren't many blacks in SAG when I joined, but I had to join if I had any intention of staying out here. I worked with a composer named Dmitri Tiomkin on the score for "LOST HORIZON" (1937) and arranged the choral work for many of his scores. Tiomkin didn't give a damn what color you were so long as you could do the work.

Hairston usedl his gifts from God and God has blessed him to share those gifts with the world. Hairston is a "National Treasure."

Larry Doby

You Had To Have Courage

Born in Camden, South Carolina. Doby was the second Negro to be signed to play in major league baseball. He was signed with the American league's, Cleveland Indians eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Doby played in the Negro leagues for a number of years before playing Major League baseball. Doby was one of the first Black players to play in a World's series.

Seconds never get the regconition as Firsts, and the name Larry Doby is not nearly as well known as Jackie Robinson. Doby, was an All-Star for six consecutive years, hit 32 home-runs, making him the first Negro player to win a major-league home-run crown.

Doby's number 14 was retired by the Cleveland Indians in 1994. On March 3, 1998 Doby was nominated into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. The inductee ceremonies was held July 26, 1998 in Cooperstown, New York. It took quite awhile to get to the Hall Of Fame, but he finally has made it.

Leonard Peltier

b. 1944
Free Peltier!

While many of the political movements of the 1960's had lost their momentum by the 70's, the American Indian Movement (AIM), was still going strong. Formed in an effort to protect Indian denizens and their land, AIM was targeted for elimination by the FBI's COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) and deemed a "terrorist" organization.

On June 26, 1975 two FBI agents in dogged pursuit of a native who had committed the gravest of federal crimes – stealing cowboy boots – stormed onto native land and were killed along with an AIM member in the ensuing fire-fight. Four men were accused of the deaths of the FBI agents (and no one was accused of the death of the Indian). One was never tried for lack of evidence, two were acquitted due to FBI misconduct in the prosecution of the case, which left one final suspect: Leonard Peltier.

Peltier fled to Canada in hopes of gaining asylum, but was extradited to the U.S in 1977. His defense team was not allowed to provide evidence from the previous case showing FBI extortion, coercion of witnesses, and fabrication of evidence. As a result, Peltier was sentenced to two life sentences.

To this day, Peltier remains in federal prison and like Geronimo Pratt before him is caught up in an endless cycle of appeals with most Federal judges refusing to even hear his case. The amount of evidence proving Peltier's innocence is overwhelming and he remains a symbol of the hypocrisy in America where pressure is applied to foreign nations with political prisoners, while domestic ones are all but ignored.

by Roberto Muñoz

Marcia Clark

b. 1953
High Profile

Born August 31, 1953 in Berkeley, California to Roslyn Mazer and Abraham I. Klecks, an executive for the FDA. Attending UCLA from which she graduated in 1974 with a BA, Clark went on the Southwestern University School of Law, graduating in 1979.

After a couple of years with a private law firm, Clark joined the Los Angeles DA's office in 1981. Among the cases she prosecuted was that of Albert Lewis and Anthony Oliver, sentenced to death for the 1989 shotgun murders of two people who were gunned down praying inside a church. Her highest profile case became the prosecution Robert Bardo, who stalked and killed actress Rebecca Schaeffer.

Her most famous case was as lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Simpson was accused of murdering ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her boyfriend Ron Goldman June 12, 1994. The trial took place in an un-precedented media feeding frenzy which quickly catapulted Clark to national fame. The trial, which lasted more than a year, ultimately ended with Simpson being found not guilty of all charges.

During the trial, Clark made a notable change in her public image, her dress and hairstyle. She became "softer," more feminine in response to criticism that her appearance made her seem cold and castrating. Media consultants told Clark that the mock jurors found her offensive, a tough woman lawyer, and that the case would be better served if she became more "womanly," with a face-framing hairstyle, more pastel-colored clothing, and talk of her children and woman's problems.

Clark had a well-publicized child custody battle in the midst of the OJ trial, ultimately re-gaining custody of her children. She gained further publicity in the wake of the trial as a speaker, and published WITHOUT A DOUBT, her reminiscences of the trial, in 1997.

Maxine Waters

b. 1938

Maxine Waters was born in St. Louis, Missiouri, August 15, 1938. She was the fifth of 13 children who were raised by a single mother. Whether it was that she came from such large family or being from the south, Waters has the gift of 'mother wit', good common sense. Being able to size something up and see it for what it's worth and make a sound decision.

Waters started working at the age of 13 years old. In the segregated south she worked in factories and restaurants. When Waters arrived in Los Angeles she worked in garment factories and at the phone company. Waters attended California State University at Los Angeles, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970. As a volunteer for the Headstart program she began her career in public service.

One of the most vocal women in politics, Water's voice has not gone un-noticed. She fights for all people. Her concerns are on the cutting edge. This one woman has a hugh voice and demands to be heard, whether she is in the projects of South Central or on the floor of Congress.

Waters is the mother of two adult children and married to former U.S. Ambassador to the Commomwealth of the Bahamas, Sidney Williams

Oseola McCarty


Oseola McCarty was born in Wayne County, Mississippi, March 7,1908. At a young age she and her mother moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Her mother worked very hard to support the both of them. When Oseola was in the sixth grade her aunt became ill and Oseola had to leave school and care for her ailing aunt.

Miss Ola was never able to return to school. For 75 years she washed and ironed clothes, saving all of her earnings. She had worked for some families for three generations before she retired.

Miss Oseola never married, however her one regret was never getting an education. She had had a dream of becoming a nurse. All her life she was frugal. Saving her money, she really didn't realize how much she was saving. As her savings grew she had to make financial arrangements for her future.

When she found out how much she had saved over the years, she decided that she wanted to help young people get the education she never received. Miss Oseola had saved a fortune and decided to donate her life's savings to the University of Southern Mississippi in 1995. Her gift made all the headlines, this soft-spoken washerwoman was giving away her life's savings to help others.

Since donating her gift of love, she has traveled to the White House, Miss Oseola was honored by President Clinton for her generosity. She carried the Olympic torch, received an honorary doctorate from Harvard University and was interviewed on television by Barbara Walters. Her life changed so much because of a simple gift of love.

At the Essence Awards show she was serenaded by Patti LaBelle, it was just another one of the honors bestowed on her by the many people who she touched. On September 26, 1999 this wonderful women passed on. Miss Oseola will be remembered for her gift of love by many.

Roebuck "Pops" Staples

b. 1914
Affirmative music was just a thought I had to myself

Roebuck "Pops" Staples was born in Winona, Mississippi in 1914. The first music he remembers was acapella singing in church. It was traditional gospel. By the time he was 12 or 13 he had heard the blues and also picked up the guitar.

Pops worked very hard at regular jobs before starting his own group after WWII. The original group was made up of his son Pervis and daughters Mavis and Cleotha. They began singing at home and then in church. After Mavis, his youngest daughter, graduated from high school, he quit working and the group went on the road.

For a number of years they performed on gospel caravans. It was in the late '40's when they first recorded their music. They became the first family of gospel. The 1960's found them singing songs and following the civil rights movement.

The Staple's music has been criticized as being too worldly, but in each song there is a message. Pops' guitar licks are famous throughout all of popular music. In the Blues and Rock world, his distinct sound is well known. In March 1999 Pops along his children were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. During the induction ceremony Pops' famous guitar licks were still a dominate sound behind the music. The Staples performed a medley of their songs to a packed house of well wishers.

Pops told the audience how happy he was to have lived to recieve such wonderful regcognition. Daughter, Mavis still at his side only added to the excitement of the group's performance.

Stephen King

b. 1947
"Stand By Me"

King was born in Portland, Maine in September 21, 1947. King's father left his family when he was young. Nellie Ruth King raised young Stephen and a older brother, David. It was hard on the family, but Ruth worked and cared for her two sons as best she could. Kings early years were spent in Durham, Maine. Durham was a rural community of about 800 people.

In 1959 King's brother started his own newspaper and a young King's overactive imagination started to blossom. Was King a little weird of a geek growing up? Well weather or not he was either, he did stand out. King was tall for his age. With his nose always in a book King's understanding and observations served him well as a writer. One of King's earliest books, he sold it at school for a dime and it was his first hit, however when his teachers and the principal found out he had to quit.

In school King had friends, played football, worked on the school newspaper and he played in a rock n roll band. He felt like an outsider, he wasn't a part of the so called 'in crowd'. That was OK, he was kinda shy and really didn't know how to make friends. King had his own world that he lived in. He typed away, his stories grew from short to full length. King wanted to become a famous writer and he worked hard. Unfortunately, not always writing. He had to take a few other jobs along the way.

He graduated high school and went on to college. His writing was so respected in college until he became the first undergraduate to teach a course at the University of Maine. while still in college he met Tabitha Jane Spruce who he married in 1971. King was about to sell his second story and things seemed to brighter. There were still some miles to travel before he would get the brass ring.

It would be years before King's work exploded across the country, but his trip getting there wasn't always pleasant. Like many writers before him he would have to pay dues and struggle to get his 15 minutes of fame.

King is one of the most prolific writers to come along at the end of this century. If one has never heard of him, they have surely have seen one of his stories on TV or the big screen. King has scared a an entire generation. All of King's writing haven't been scary, but, they all contain a certain amount of edginess. Most of Kings fans can't put his books down nor can they wait for his new books to hit the stands.

Like many great storytellers before him, King has taken his readers to places they dare not go alone!

Steven Spielberg


Born in Cinncinnati, Ohio, December 18, 1947, Steven Spielberg is the som of Arnold Spielberg, an electrical engineer and Leah Posner, a pianist. Spielberg used the making of home movies as an escape, which his parents indulged despite their insistence upon limiting the young Steven's access to television and motion pictures. He developed his talent enough by age 13 to win a prize for a 40 minute war movie called "Escape to Nowhere."

Bluffing his way onto Universal Studios lot in 1967, Spielberg found no one interested in his projects. He attended California State College at Long Beach, although he didn't enroll in "film school." Gaining the support of a Universal Studios executive, Spielberg signed a seven-year contract with Universal Television and left college without a degree.

Spielberg worked on such shows as NIGHT GALLERY, MARCUS WELBY, M.D., and COLUMBO. In 1971 he got the chance to make a feature-length made-for-TV movie, and delivered DUEL, one of the most memorable Movies of the Week ever made, involving a cross-country chase of a motorist by a seemingly-driverless truck. After two other TV features, Spielberg made his big-screen directoral debut with the 1974 THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS.

Spielberg's next film was to make him a household name. 1975's JAWS became the highest-grossing movie of all time up to that point. Next up, the even-higher-grossing CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. After bombing with 1979's World War II comedy 1941, Spielberg returned to the top of the movie charts with 1981's RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.

After the problematic 1982 TWILIGHT ZONE, which was beset by the accidental deaths of several actors during the filming, Spielberg released E.T. and produced POLTERGIST, both winning huge box office profits. His 1984 RAIDERS sequel, INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, and the production of GREMLINS made the director a controversial figure with the Motion Picture Association of America, who introduced a new "PG-13" rating due to the gory, violent scenes in both movies.

After so many hits, Spielberg could afford to indulge himself and decided he wanted to aim for the grown-up market. The 1986 THE COLOR PURPLE was a risk, although the movie was a great sucess and marked the movie debuts of two African American women who would become huge stars, Oprah Winfrey and Whoopie Goldberg. Snubbed by the Oscars for his directorial achievements in both THE COLOR PURPLE and the 1987 EMPIRE OF THE SUN, Spielberg returned to his lighter fare with another RAIDERS sequel, INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE in 1989 and the 1991 HOOK.

Spielberg had another mega-hit in 1993 with JURASSIC PARK, which again out-did the records to become the highest-grossing picture of all time up to that point. 1993 also saw the release of the film that would finally earn Spielberg the Oscar recognition previously denied him. SCHINDLER'S LIST won Best Picture and Best Director, while Spielberg funneled his not-inconsiderable profits from the picture into the Righteous Persons Foundation, which awards grants to projects benefiting modern Jewish life.

Teaming with fellow entertainment titans David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg to form the multimedia entertainment studio Dreamworks, Spielberg released the JURASSIC PARK sequel, THE LOST WORLD, and a serious film AMISTAD in 1997. The 1998 SAVING PRIVATE RYAN earned Spielberg another Best Director Oscar for the multi-nominated film.

Spielberg himself is nonchalant about his success, quoted as saying, "I've always made films that I, as an audience, would want to see. That's my main philosophy."

Toni Morrison

b 1931
...characters as big as life

Chloe Anthony Wofford was born in Lorain, Ohio, February 8, 1931. Her parents had moved there from the south to escape racism and to find better job opportunities. Morrison was a talented student and after graduation she went on to Howard University in Washington, D.C. After receiving a bachelor's degree at Howard she attended Cornell University, where she earned her Master's degree.

Morrison later went to work for a subsidiary of Random House Books as an associate editor, and it was during this time that she began to write. She dusted off some previous work and turned it into a novel and has not stopped writing since. For her efforts she has received a Pulitzer Prize in literature and numerous other accolades.

William F. Buckley Jr.

b. 1925

"Idealism is fine; but as it approaches reality, the cost becomes prohibitive."

On the website of THE NATIONAL REVIEW, William F. Buckley's 1955-founded conservative magazine, there's a feature called "Bill Buckley's Word of the Day." The word for today is "Punctilio," defined as The concern for form, manners, appearance. It's a word that seems extremely appropriate and applicable in this context.

Born in New York City in 1925 to William Frank Buckley, a lawyer, and Aloise Buckley, William Frank Buckley, Jr. has nine brothers and sisters. Buckley's grandfather had made a fortune in oil, and the boy was reared in very comfortable circumstances with private tutors, English boarding school and prep school in the US. After a year at the University of Mexico, Buckley served three years in the US Army during World War II before entering Yale University, graduating in 1946. In 1965, Buckley ran unsuccessfully as a Conservative Party candidate for mayor of New York City. He worked for the United States Information Agency (USIA) Advisory Commission from 1969 to 1972, and was the United States delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.

Buckley founded the NATIONAL REVIEW in 1955 and served as its editor-in-chief until 1990, honing the publication into the country's leading forum for conservative views. He began a nationally-syndicated newspaper column, "On the Right," in 1962, and a weekly television interview and commentary show, "The Firing Line," in 1966.

He has received over 35 honorary degrees, and awards ranging from the Emmy to the American Book Award to the Distinguished Achievement Award in Journalism. In 1991 he was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Author of nearly 40 books, Buckley is known for a keen wit, a fascination with words and language, and a languid, patrician manner. His literary topics include sailing, words and language, political analysis and commentary, and mystery/espionage novels.

by Nancy McPoland

William Lee Shellman

b. 1927
"Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey…"

About a year ago Colored Reflections received a email from William L. Shellman, he introduced himself and told us he was very interested in history and wanted to share some things with Colored Reflections. That was the start of a great friendship. This one person has encouraged us and kept us going through our continuing research.

Billl is a historian, he has lectured and traveled the world over. He was born in Springfield, Ohio, December 9, 1927. Growing up as a young child his father was his role model, his father died when he was very young and his mother would die four years later.

Bill's family started in Chickamauga, GA. From there they moved to Springfield, OH where Bill grew up. Bill was the youngest of four children. During the 1940's segregation was the law of the land. The economy was tight for everyone.

In his hometown he would see young soldiers coming home on leave in their uniforms, and it would seem like their pockets were lined with money, plus they would get all the girls.

Bill was just 16 years old when he tried to join the army. He was too young and was not excepted at that time. After turning 17 years old, he was finally able to join. Before he and his sister went downtown to the post office to get him enlisted, his sister told him to put a little soot under his nose so that it would appear that he was finally growing facial hair. Elizabeth his beloved sister was also his guardian, and she had to sign for him to join. He was accepted and this young boy was soon to became a young man.

After training he was sent to Japan and soon became apart of the 24th Infantry Regiment, at Gifu, Japan. In Gifu, he was stationed at Camp Majestic and found his brother, Theodore who had joined the Army some time before. Although it was against regulations for brothers to be in the same unit, his First Seargent allowed them to remain togather. Theodore had only a few months left before he would return state side.(The 24th Infantry was known as "Buffalo Soldiers."Historically the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments had been activated in 1869 and had seen action in Cuba with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough riders. They had also pursued Poncho all over Mexico but never caught him).

After spending 10 years in the Army he left and then joined the Air Force. In the Air Force he was to have a once in a lifetime experience and that experience took him to the North Pole. He was stationed in Alaska.He was offered a job at the North Pole and there he spent three months. The exact location was T-3. He worked as a heavy equipment operator. His job was to keep snow off the runway so that airplanes could land.

During that three months he discovered markers left by Matthew Henson and Commander Robert Peary's expedition. At the time he didn't realize what a discovery he had made, however he would never forget it. He had gone to the top of the world and walked in Henson's footsteps. After 10 years he retired from out the Air Force and started writing and lecturing.

This remarkable gentleman has experienced many wonderful adventures in his lifetime, including having a loving wife and six children. Now he shares his great adventures with anyone who will listen. He lectures at Universities and civic groups. He is also an author and is currently writing about his adventures at the North Pole. Global Warming is another project that he is studying.

Bill Shellman is remarkable indeed. He can be called upon at anytime day or night, and if he can help he is there for you. With everything he is involved in, he finds time for another love and that is his Tenor Saxphone. He can play the best of swing, jazz and be-boop and other music from the late '30's, 40's and 50's.

Colored Reflections would like to thank Mr. William Shellman again for his many contributions to this site. With his knowledge he has helped fill in gaps of time that he lived through and had all the answers when we had no other course. Thanks for all of your mentoring

by Lindsey Page

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