MLK, A Snapshot


In this photograph, Coretta is upset with her husband, MLK, who had been attacked the night before by a disturbed white racist but had not defended himself. Though the police urged King to press charges, he refused.

“The system we live under creates people such as this youth,” he said. “I’m not interested in pressing charges. I’m interested in changing the kind of system that produces such men.”


Source (all text directly):…/p…/0,29307,1952031_2021421,00.html

Henry Ossian Flipper


Henry Ossian Flipper was born a slave in Thomasville, Georgia in 1856. Just over twenty years later, he would become the first African American to graduate from West Point.

His path of education to West Point began in a wood shop of a slave. Henry was eight then. His schooling continued at Missionary Schools and then at Atlanta University. However, his dream was to attend West Point.

No African American had ever graduated from West Point. But this didn’t deter Henry. He wrote James C. Freeman, a state Congressman, asking to be appointed to West Point. 

After the two exchanged letters, the Congressman appointed Henry.

Henry joined four other African Americans at West Point. And of the group, he became the first to graduate, a member of the Class of 1877.

Then he became the first African American to command regular troops in the U.S. Army.

Bella Lewitsky


”I am a dancer, not a singer.”

This was her reply during a hearing of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1951, to decline giving up names of friends who might have had involvement in the Communist Party.

Bella Lewitsky was “a small girl with heavy, dark hair and big eyes.” Born to a Russian Jewish family in Llano del Rio, a utopian socialist community in the Mojave Desert, she was raised in San Bernardino, which is where she discovered and nurtured her love for dancing. 

With her “fiery personality,” she became “one of America’s great modern dancers.” And then a teacher, who was always concerned about the welfare of her group. “Her company members were always fully insured, and she paid them annual salaries even when they did not perform every month of a year.”

Bella was tough, fearless, and an ardent believer in the importance of modern dance as a major art form.


Dr. Jane C. Wright


“Her father, Dr. Louis T. Wright, was among the first black graduates of Harvard Medical School and was reported to be the first black doctor appointed to the staff of a New York City hospital. His father was an early graduate of what became the Meharry Medical College, the first medical school in the South for African-Americans, founded in Nashville in 1876.”

And while Dr. Jane C. Wright wanted to study art when first entering college, at the urging of her father, she too pursued medicine and became “a pioneering oncologist who helped elevate chemotherapy from a last resort for cancer patients to an often viable treatment option.”

Her work was so respected that in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her to the President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke.


Kalpana Chawla


“It was starting to get dim outside, so you got to see your own reflection. And there is the Earth, and you can still see the Earth’s surface and the dark sky overhead. And I could then see my reflection in the window and in the retina of my eye the whole earth and the sky could be seen reflected. So I called all the crew members one by one and they saw it, and they said, ‘oh wow’.”

Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian origin in space. She passed away in 2003, one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.



Nathan Francis Mossell


His father was a thoughtful man of few words. A man who learned to read in night school. Who then went into business for himself as a brick maker, where he was known to have a strong propensity for math. He could estimate the number of bricks needed for any size contract with amazing accuracy. And he was a righteous man. The men who worked for him never used profanity in his presence. Not because he forbade it, but because they held him in high regard.

Then there was his maternal grandfather who was freed as a young man. “He was useless to his master because he viciously resisted his masters attempt to bend [his] will.” Slavery was not justifiable in his mind.

And then there was his paternal grandfather, who bought his and his wife’s freedom.

Nathan Francis Mossell came from a lineage of people who fought to overcome adversity. And he followed in their path. In 1882, he became the first African-American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Source (some text directly for first paragraph):…/moss…/mossell_nf_autobio.pdf