1. Isaac Scott Hathaway, Sculptor, ceramist and educator. artist who worked in different genres of art, including ceramics and sculpture.
His desire to become an artist was a result of a visit to a museum. At the museum, Hathaway noticed there were no pieces made by or depicting African Americans. At that point, in an early stage in his life, he vowed to represent.
Hathaway attended many colleges, including: Chandler College; Pittsburgh Normal College; Cincinnati Art Academy; the College of Ceramics of the State University of New York; the Ceramic College at the State University of Kansas. At these colleges, Hathaway studied art history and ceramics, but he also developed an interest in sculpture.
Upon finishing his schooling, Hathaway returned to Kentucky where he worked as teacher in an elementary school. Hathaway began to make his own pieces in his spare time. Most of Hathaway’s pieces were sculptures. He is most noted for his busts of famous African Americans, including his personal hero, Frederick Douglass. The medium of most of his pieces was plaster, but he also made some of bronze.
Hathaway’s success had lasting effects. He taught at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff before moving to Tuskegee Institute. He became a founding member of the Department of Ceramics at Tuskegee Institute. He was also the first African American to design a U.S. coin. During his life, Hathaway designed two U.S. coins. His first coin was the fifty cent piece bearing the face of Booker T. Washington in 1946. His second was of George Washington Carver in 1951.
Hathaway’s works are displayed in the museum bearing his name in Oklahoma City.
2. Muddy Waters, (McKinley Morganfield), blues musician, generally considered “the Father of Chicago blues”. Blues musicians Big Bill Morganfield and Larry “Mud Morganfield” Williams are his sons. A major inspiration for the British blues explosion in the 1960s, Muddy was ranked #17 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
3. Maya Angelou ” Marguerite Ann Johnson”, Poet/Writer, Educator, autobiographer who has been called “America’s most visible black female autobiographer” by scholar Joanne M. Braxton. She is best known for her series of six autobiographical volumes, which focus on her childhood and early adulthood experiences. The first, best-known, and most highly acclaimed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969).
4. Hugh Masakela, Trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, composer, and singer “Grazin’ in the Grass”. At age 14, after seeing the film Young Man With a Horn (in which Kirk Douglas plays a character modeled after American jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke), he took up playing the trumpet. His first trumpet was given to him by Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, the anti-apartheid chaplain at St. Peter’s Secondary School.
Since 1954, Masekela has played music that closely reflects his life experience. The agony, conflict, and exploitation South Africa faced during 1950’s and 1960’s, inspired and influenced him to make music. He was an artist who in his music vividly portrayed the struggles and sorrows, as well as the joys and passions of his country. His music protested about apartheid, slavery, government; the hardships individuals were living. Masekela reached a large population of people that also felt oppressed due to the country situation.
Following a Manhattan Brothers tour of South Africa in 1958, Masekela wound up in the orchestra for the musical King Kong, written by Todd Matshikiza. King Kong was South Africa’s first blockbuster theatrical success, touring the country for a sold-out year with Miriam Makeba and the Manhattan Brothers’ Nathan Mdledle in the lead. The musical later went to London’s West End for two years.
5. Major Lance, R&B singer. After a number of US hits in the 1960s, including “The Monkey Time” and “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um”, he became an iconic figure in Britain in the 1970s among followers of Northern soul. As a child, he relocated with his family to Chicago, attending Wells High School – the same school as Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler – taking up boxingand also singing as a member of the Five Gospel Harmonaires. In the mid-1950s, he and singer Otis Leavill formed a group, the Floats. “The Monkey Time”, became a #2 Billboard R&B chart and #8 pophit in 1963. A succession of hits followed quickly, including “Hey Little Girl”, “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um” (his biggest hit, reaching #5 in the US pop chart and #40 in the UK, where it was his only chart success), “The Matador” (the only one not written by Mayfield), “Rhythm”, “Sometimes I Wonder”, “Come See”, and “Ain’t It A Shame”.
6. Lorraine Toussaint, actress best known for starring alongside Annie Potts in Any Day Now. Toussaint graduated from Manhattan’s School of Performing Arts in 1978, before going on to graduate from Juilliard Drama School. Toussaint was a featured recurring guest-star on the drama Law & Order as defense lawyer Shambala Green.