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

1. Frank Johnson, musician, band leader, and composer. During the 1820s, Johnson published more compositions, mainly dances and marches. He also developed relationships with several Philadelphia militia units, including the First Troop Philadelphia City Calvary, and the Washington Guards Third Company (later called the Washington Grays). Through this relationships and his participation in musical events with these groups, Johnson’s reputation in Philadelphia won him national praise.

During the Antebellum period African American composers were rare in the U.S.    Johnson was among the few who were successful. Performing as a virtuosoof the (now rare) keyed Kent bugle and the violin, he wrote more than two hundred compositions of various styles—operatic airs, Ethiopian minstrel songs, patriotic marches, ballads, cotillions, quadrilles, quicksteps and other dances. Only manuscripts and piano transcriptions survive today.

Johnson was the first African American composer to have his works published as sheet music. He also was the first African American to give public concerts and the first to participate in racially integrated concerts in the United States. He led the first American musical ensemble to present concerts abroad, and he introduced the promenade concert style to America.

2. Melnea Cass, educator and activist. She helped to organize people to register to vote after the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1920. She was the founder of the Kindergarten Mothers, the Pansy Embroidery Club, Harriet Tubman Mothers’ Club, and the Sojourner Truth Club. She worked in the Northeastern Region of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs as a secretary and helped form the Boston local of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

3. Marita Odette Bonner, writer closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance.  Throughout her life, Bonner wrote many short stories, essays, and plays. After her parents death, Bonner wrote her first essay, “On Being Young-A Woman-And Colored” which addressed the negative conditions that black Americans, especially black women, had to endure during this time. This essay was published in 1925 and encourages black women to dwell on their problems but to outsmart negative situations. Bonner also wrote several short stories from 1925-1927. “The Prison-Bound”, “Nothing New”, “One Boy’s Story” and “Drab Rambles”. Bonner also wrote three plays, “Pot Maker,” “The Purple Flower – A Play” and “Exit, an Illusion”. Her most famous play was “The Purple Flower” which portrays black liberation. Many of Bonner’s later works such as “Light in Dark Places” dealt with poverty, poor housing, and color discrimination in the black communities, and shows the influence that the urban environment has on black communities. After marrying Occomy, Bonner began to write under her married name. Her short stories explored a multicultural universe filled with people drawn by the promises of urban life. After 1941, Bonner quit publishing her works and devoted her time to her family.

4. Rembert E. Stokes, bishop, educator, and administrator. Rembert E. Stokes, a 1940 graduate of Wilberforce University, became President of the University in 1956 and served until he was elected to the Bishopric of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1976. That year he was also presented the Distinguished Service Award by the Alumni Association and the Wilberforce University Stokes Learning Resource Center was named in his honor.


5. Lamont Dozier, songwriter and record producer, born in Detroit, Michigan. Dozier has either co-written or produced several US Billboard #1 hits.  Dozier is best known as a member of  Holland–Dozier–Holland, the  songwriting  and  production  team that was responsible for much of theMotown sound and numerous hit records by artists such as Martha & the Vandellas, The Supremes, The Four Tops, and The Isley Brothers. Along with Brian Holland, Dozier served as the team’s musical arranger and producer.

He is teaching a course of popular music at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.

He, along with the Holland brothers, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

6. Eddie Levert,  singer, and is the lead vocalist of the soul and R&B vocal group, The O’Jays.

The O’Jays were originally known as The Triumphs and The Mascots. They were officially known as The O’Jays after they got their name from DJ Eddie O’Jay. Their first big hit was “Lonely Drifter” which was lifted off their debut album Comin Through. The O’Jays are mainly known by their hits “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train” and “For the Love of Money.”

He starred and performed in the movie (The Fighting Temptations) and performed the song He Still Loves Me.

In 2009, he and his group won the BET Lifetime Achievement Award.


7. James Smith, Rhythm And Blues Artist (The Stylistics)

9. Tupac Shakur, Rapp artist. known by his stage names 2Pac, sold over 75 million albums worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world.

In addition to his career as a rap artist, he was also an actor.  The themes of most of Tupac’s songs are the violence and hardship in inner cities, racism, other social problems, and conflicts with other rappers during the East Coast – West Coast hip hop rivalry. Shakur began his career as a roadie and backup dancer for the Digital Underground.

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