1. Sarah Parker Remond, One of the most articulate public speakers of her time. A Physician, lecturer, abolitionist, and agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society. She worked giving speeches throughout the United States over the horrors of slavery. Because of her eloquence, she was chosen to travel to England to gather support for the abolitionist cause in the United States and, after the American Civil War started, for support of the Union Army and the Union blockade of the Confederacy. She was the sister of orator Charles Lenox Remond.
2. Portia Washington Pittman, Musician and teacher, and the only daughter of Booker T. and Fanny (Smith) Washington.
3. A’Lelia Walker, Businesswoman associated with the Harlem Renaissance as a patron of the arts who provided an intellectual forum for the Black literati of New York City during the 1920s. She was the daughter and only child of self-made millionaire Madam C.J. Walker.
4. Jimmie Lunceford, Jazz alto saxophonist and bandleader in the swing era. In 1927, while teaching at Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee, he organized a student band, the Chickasaw Syncopators, whose name was changed to the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra when it began touring. Lunceford was the first high school band director in Memphis. This band recorded in 1927 and 1930. After a period of touring, the band accepted a booking at the Harlem nightclub The Cotton Club in 1934. The Cotton Club had already featured Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, who won their first widespread fame from their inventive shows for the Cotton Club’s all-white patrons. Lunceford’s orchestra, with their tight musicianship and often outrageous humor in their music and lyrics made an ideal band for the club, and Lunceford’s reputation began to steadily grow.
On July 12, 1947, while playing in Seaside, Oregon, Lunceford collapsed and died from cardiac arrest during an autograph session, aged 45. Allegations and rumors circulated that Jimmie had been poisoned by a fish-restaurant owner who was unhappy at having to serve a “Negro” in his establishment. This story is given credence by the fact other members of Lunceford’s band who ate at this restaurant were also sickened within hours of the meal.
The Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival was founded in 2007 by Ron Herd II a.k.a. R2C2H2 Tha Artivist and Artstorian, with the aim of increasing recognition of Lunceford’s contribution to jazz, particularly in Memphis, Tennessee. The Jimmie Lunceford Legacy Awards was created by the Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival to honor exceptional musicians with Memphis ties as well as those who have dedicated their careers to excellence in music and music education. On July 19, 2009, a brass note was dedicated to Lunceford on Beale Street.
5. Roy Innis, Civil rights activist. He has been National Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (also known as CORE) since his election to the position in 1968. One of his sons, Niger Innis, serves as National Spokesman of the Congress of Racial Equality.
6. Robert “Bobby” Mitchell, professional football player starting as an eighth round draft selection by the Cleveland Browns in 1958. Played in four Pro Bowls (one with Cleveland and three with Washington) over his 11-year playing career and is considered one of the NFL’s all-time great multi-purpose players.
7. Levi Stubbles, better known by the stage name Levi Stubbs, was an American baritone singer, best known as the lead vocalist of the Motown R&B group The Four Tops. He is also known as the voice of Audrey II in the musical film Little Shop of Horrors.
9. Marian Wright Eldelman, Activist for the rights of children. She is president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. Edelman was the first African American woman admitted in the Mississippi Bar when she began practicing law out of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.’s Mississippi office. During her time in Mississippi, she worked on racial justice issues connected with the civil rights movement and represented activists throughout the Mississippi Freedom Summerof 1964. She also helped get a Head Start program established in her community.
10. Harrison Branch, Professor of art and photographer whose works will be exhibited and collected in the U.S. and in Europe and will appear in the landmark photography book, “An Illustrated Bio-Bibliography of Black Photographers,” 1940-1988, edited by Deborah Wills Ryan.
11. James “Jimmy Jam” Harris, Musician, songwriter, and music producer.
12. Virginia Estelle Randolph, was an educator in Henrico County, Virginia. She was named the United States’ first “Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teacher” by her Superintendent of Schools, Jackson T. Davis, and she led a program funded by the Jeanes Foundation to upgrade vocational training throughout the U.S. South as her career progressed. Her work is widely associated with vocational education. Two schools of the Henrico County Public Schools system were named in her honor.