Joe Gans (1874-1910) – Boxer Joe Gans was born Joseph Gant in 1874 in Baltimore, Md. He fought from 1891 to 1909 and is known as the first African American World Boxing Champion of the 20th Century.
Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968) – Artist Meta Vaux Warrick was born in 1877 in Philadelphia, Pa. to working class parents. Considered a forerunner of the Harlem Renaissance, the multi-faceted artist was equally gifted at poetry, painting and sculpture. She was friends with Henry Ossawa Tanner and W.E.B. DuBois and it was from those influences that her works portrayed strong social commentary.
A protégé of Auguste Rodin, her most notable work “Emancipation” (1913) was created in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. It was cast in bronze in 1999 and placed in Harriet Tubman Park in Boston, Masss. She married prominent physician, Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller, one of the first Black psychiatrists in the United States.
Allen Allensworth (1842-1914) – Community Builder Allen Allensworth was born a slave in Kentucky in 1842. He would eventually fight on the side of the Union with the U.S. Navy. Later, he became a Baptist minister, teacher and was eventually appointed as chaplain in the U.S. Army. He was the first African American to reach the rank of lieutenant colonel. He is most notable for founding Allensworth, California in 1908. Allensworth was meant to be an all-Black community where African American could be self-sufficient and live free from racial discrimination.
Maggie Lena Walker (1864-1934) – Businesswoman Maggie Lena Walker was born as Maggie Lena Mitchell in Richmond, Va. in 1864. At age fourteen, she joined the local council of the fraternal society, The Independent Order of St. Luke, an organization dedicated to the social and financial advancement of African Americans. Becoming active in the society in 1899, she became grand secretary and would eventually found the organization’s first newspaper, St. Luke Herald in 1902. The following year, she opened the St. Luke Pennsy Savings Bank, becoming the first African American woman to charter a bank in the United States.
John Edward Bruce (1856-1924) – Historian Bruce was born in 1856 in Piscataway, Md. to enslaved parents. Raised in Washington, D.C. and later Connecticut, he would eventually attend Howard University for a short period before pursuing his education through vigorous self-teaching.
In Washington, D.C., after serving as a messenger for the New York Times, he took what he learned and became a paid contributor for several newspapers in along the East coast. He would eventually make his way to New York where he met and work closely with historian, Arthur (Arturo) Schomburg. Together, they founded the Negro Society for Historical Research in 1911. The society brought together scholars from around the African Diaspora and amassing one of the first archival and library collection dedicated to the documentation of African American history and culture.