1. Nat Love, Cowboy, following the American Civil War. In 1907, Love wrote his autobiography, “Life and Adventures of Nat Love.” In his autobiography, Nat Love explains that his father was a slave foreman in the fields, and his mother managed the kitchen. Love also had an older brother Jordan and an older sister Sally.
Love was born a slave on the plantation of Robert Love in Davidson County, Tennessee, in 1854. Despite slavery era statutes that outlawed black literacy he learned to read and write as a child with the help of his father, Sampson Love. When slavery ended, Sampson attempted to start a family farm to raise tobacco and corn, but he died shortly after the second crop was planted. Nat then took a second job working on a local farm to help make ends meet. After a few years of working odd jobs, he won a horse in a raffle. He sold the horse for one hundred dollars and gave half to his mother, and he used the other half to leave town. He went west to Dodge City, Kansas, to find work as a cowboy. In Dodge City, he joined the cowboys from the Duval Ranch which was stationed in Texas. Because of his excellent horse riding skills, the Duval Ranch cowboys gave Nat the nickname “Red River Dick.” Once he joined the Duval cowboys he left Dodge City and returned with them to the home ranch in the Texas Panhandle. Nat Love’s autobiography tells of many adventures fighting against cattle rustlers and inclement weather. His many years of experience made him an expert marksman and cowboy. He entered a rodeo in Deadwood, South Dakota on the 4th of July in 1876. He won the rope, throw, tie, bridle, saddle and bronco riding contests. It was at this contest that the fans gave him the nickname“Deadwood Dick.” In October 1877, he was captured by a band of Akimel O’odham (Pima) while rounding up stray cattle near the Gila Riverin Arizona. Love reported that his life was spared because the Indians respected his fighting ability. A while after being captured, Love stole a pony and managed to escape into West Texas.
Love spent the latter part of his life working as a Pullman porter. He died in Los Angeles at age 67 in 1921.
In 1969, a clothing company in Boston took the name Nat Love to pay homage to this ‘groovy guy.’ Nat Love, Inc. introduced hot pants to the United States at the first National Boutique Show held at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City.
2. Donald Newcombe, nicknamed “Newk”, is an American former Major League Baseball right-handed starting pitcher who played for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers (1949–51 and 1954–58), Cincinnati Reds(1958–60) and Cleveland Indians (1960).
Newcombe is the only baseball player to have won the Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards in his career. In 1949, he became the first black pitcher to start a World Series game. In 1955, Newcombe was the first black pitcher to win twenty games in one season. In 1956, he was the first pitcher to win the National League MVP and the Cy Young Award in the same season.
Newcombe was also an excellent hitting pitcher, compiling a career average of .271 with fifteen home runs, and was one of few pitchers in the major leagues used as a pinch hitter.
3. Junior Walker (Autry DeWalt Mixon), Musician, Jr Walker & the All Stars signed to the Motown label in the 1960s, and became one of the label’s signature acts. Shot Gun was only one of their many hits.
4. Marla Gibbs (Margaret Bradley), television and film actress and singer. She is best remembered for playing Isabel Sanford’s and Sherman Hemsley’s sarcastic maid, Florence Johnston, on The Jeffersons and spinoff Checking In. She also starred as Mary Jenkins on the television series 227.
5. John Edgar Wideman, A Rhodes scholar and writer of such fictional works as ‘Hurry Home’, ‘Damballah’, and ‘Philadelphia Fire’. He will be the second African American to win a Rhodes scholarship. Professor at Brown University, contributing editorial board of the literary journal Conjunctions.
A widely-celebrated writer and the winner of many literary awards, he is the first to win the International PEN/Faulkner Award twice: in 1984 for Sent for You Yesterday and in 1990 forPhiladelphia Fire. In 2000, he won the O. Henry Award for his short story “Weight”, published in The Callaloo Journal.
His nonfiction book Brothers and Keepers received a National Book Critics Circle nomination, and his memoir Fatheralong was a finalist for the National Book Award. He is also the recipient of a MacArthur genius grant. Wideman was chosen as winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story in 1998, for outstanding achievement in that genre. In 1997, his novel The Cattle Killing won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction.
He has taught at the University of Wyoming, University of Pennsylvania, where he founded and chaired the African American Studies Department, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s MFA Program for Poets & Writers.
7. Sam Perkins, a retired American professional basketball player, also known by the nicknames “Sleepy Sam” and “Big Smooth.” He attended Samuel J. Tilden High School, Shaker High School and the University of North Carolina, where he was a teammate of Michael Jordan. He then played in the NBA from 1984 to 2001.
In 1980, he was selected large-school player of the year in high school by the New York State Sportswriters Association.
In 2008, Perkins was named vice president of player relations for the Indiana Pacers, with whom he played from 1999-2001.
In September 2008, Perkins was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.