Nothing will motivate a man to move forward faster than knowing what's behind Him.

1.   Stephen Allen Benson, businessman and politician, Second President of Liberia from 1856 to 1864. Benson was born in Cambridge, Maryland, United States, to freeborn African American parents.   In 1822, his family expatriated to the newly created country of Liberia, on the ship Brig Strong.   Shortly after his arrival in August 1822, the colony was taken over by African natives, holding Benson and his relatives captives for four months.

For four years, he was a military shopkeeper. He was also a private secretary to Thomas Buchanan, the last of Liberia’s white governors. Benson later became a successful businessman. Benson joined the militia in 1835 and in 1842 became a delegate to the Colonial Council. After Liberia’s independence in 1847 he became a judge. He was also a Methodist preacher.

2.   Regina M. Anderson, playwright, librarian, and key member of the Harlem Renaissance.  Born in Chicago, she studied at Wilberforce University, University of Chicago, and Columbia University before becoming a librarian at the 135th Street (Harlem) branch of the New York Public Library. In 1924 she organized a dinner for black New York intellectuals and writers, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Jean Toomer, Countee Cullen, and Langston Hughes. The dinner was one of the coalescing events of the Harlem Renaissance. [1] [2]

Anderson and Du Bois co-founded the Krigwa Players (later Negro Experimental Theatre), a black theater company. The Players produced her plays Climbing Jacob’s Ladder (about a lynching) and Underground (about the Underground Railroad).

Regina Anderson was one of ten African American women whose contributions were recognized at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.

She was the first minority to climb the ranks and become a supervising librarian at the New York Public Library and her struggle to break the color barrier has earned her numerous accolades.

3.   Thomas Wright (Fats) Waller, major jazz creator/Ain’t Misbehavin’  was a jazz pianist, organist, composer, singer, and comedic entertainer.

4.   Doris Akers, Gospel composer and vocalist.  During the 1930s she formed a group with her siblings, Edward, Marian and Donald, who went by the name of “Dot and The Swingsters”. She wrote her first song at the age of 10 called, “Keep The Fire Burning In Me”.

5.   Clarence (“Big House”) Gaines, College basketball coach and athletic director. All-Conference and All-State athlete.  Was a college men’s basketball coach with a 47-year coaching career at Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

6.  Ronald Isley, Rhythm And Blues Artist, (The Isley Brothers)singer and is known as the lead singer and founding member of the family music group The Isley Brothers.  Third of six brothers (O’Kelly Isley, Jr., Rudolph Isley, Ronald, Vernon Isley, Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley) to Sallye Bernice (Bell) and O’Kelly Isley, Sr. Ronald, like many of his siblings, began his career in the church. He began singing at the age of three, winning a $25 war bond for singing at a spiritual contest at the Union Baptist Church. By the age of seven, Ronald was singing onstage at venues such as the Regal Theater in Chicago, alongside Dinah Washington and a few other notables.

7.  Mr. T (Laurence Tureaud) is an American actor known for his roles as B. A. Baracus in the 1980s television series The A-Team, as boxer Clubber Lang in the 1982 film Rocky III, and for his appearances as a professional wrestler. Mr. T is also well-known for his distinctive mohawk hairstyle, for wearing large amounts of gold jewelry, and for his tough guy image. He starred in the reality show I Pity the Fool, shown on TV Land. Also starred in DC Cab.

8.  Christopher George Latore Wallace, Rapp Artist. He was popularly known as Biggie Smalls (after a character in the 1975 film Let’s Do It Again) or simply Biggie, Frank White (after the main character of the 1990 film King of New York), and by his primary stage name The Notorious B.I.G..

9.   Kejuan Muchita, better known as Havoc, is an MC-record producer, and one half of the hip-hop duo Mobb Deep with Prodigy.

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