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

1. Benedict the Black, Patron Saint.


2. James Coody Johnson,  lawyer, politician, cowboy, and entrepreneur.  His father was Robert Johnson, an African Creek interpreter for the Seminole nation, and his mother was Elizabeth Davis (Johnson), daughter of Sarah Davis. Young Johnson was born at Fort Gibson, OK, where his mother had gone for protection as a refugee during the Civil War.

He received his early education at the Presbyterian Mission north of Wewoka, OK. Later, the Seminole nation sponsored his education at Lincoln University in Chester, Pennsylvania. Johnson returned to the Indian Territory in 1884, after his graduation and hired on as a cowboy with a cattle company. For the next year and a half, he rode the range in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas as one of the many black cowboys in the West.

After the death of his father in 1886, Coody returned to Creek country. He used his bilingual abilities and education to secure a job as interpreter for Judge Isaac Parker, who presided over the Federal District Court for Western Arkansas, which at the time had jurisdiction over the Indian Territory. After studying law under Judge Parker and being admitted to practice in the federal courts, Johnson was one of the few freedmen accorded dual citizenship in both the Creek and Seminole nations and acted as the official interpreter for the Seminole nation, as well as an adviser to Seminole Chief Halputta Micco.

Johnson also became a leading figure in Creek politics, serving in the House of Warriors for several terms and serving on many official delegations to Washington during the allotment period. Johnson was also a tireless advocate of full citizenship rights for African Americans after Oklahoma entered the Union as a Jim Crow state in 1907.

3. Elizabeth Koontz,  Educator and politician.  She was born in Salisbury, N.C., and attended that city’s public school system. She graduated from Livingstone College in 1938. Koontz attained her Masters Degree from Atlanta University in 1941, and did further study at Columbia University. A classroom teacher who devoted her entire life to education, Koontz also served as the first Black woman president of the National Education Association (NEA) in 1968.

During the Nixon administration, she was the director of the Woman’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor. She retired in 1982, receiving many awards, citations, honors, and honorary degrees. These give testimony to the esteem and appreciation, felt by those she served.


4. Samuel Gravely, First African American Admiral in the U.S. Navy. He also will become the first African American to command a U.S. warship, the USS Falgout, and will also command the USS Taussig.

5. Anthony Braxton, composer, saxophonist, clarinettist, flautist, pianist, and philosopher.   Braxton has released well over 100 albums since the 1960s. Among the array of instruments he plays are the flute; the sopranino, soprano, C-Melody, F alto, E-flat alto, baritone, bass, and contrabass saxophones; and the E-flat, B-flat, and contrabass clarinets.


6. Eldra (El) DeBarge, R&B and soul falsetto singer and was the focal point and lead singer of the family group DeBarge.


7. Xavier Maurice McDaniel, nicknamed the X-Man, is a retired American National Basketball Association (NBA) player who, at 6 ft 7 in, played both small forward and power forward, and former head coach of the Riders Slamball team.

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