1. Gabriel Prosser, was a literate enslaved blacksmith who planned to lead a large slave rebellion in the Richmond area in the summer of 1800. However, information regarding the revolt was leaked prior to its execution, thus Gabriel’s plans were foiled. Gabriel, along with twenty-six members of the revolt, were hanged. In reaction, the Virginia and other legislatures passed restrictions on free blacks, as well as the education, movement and hiring out of the enslaved.
2. George Augustus Bridgetower, virtuoso violinist
3. George Washington Carver, scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor
4. Edgar Daniel(E. D.) Nixon, civil rights leader and union organizer who played a crucial role in organizing the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. Nixon also led the Montgomery branch of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union, known as the Pullman Porters Union. Nixon also served as president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Montgomery Welfare League, and the Montgomery Voters League.
5. Roy Butler, Jazz musician, learned how to play the tenor saxophone and began playing music in carnivals, minstrel shows, and small bands during his early years in Columbus, Ohio. He joined Sammy Stewart’s Orchestra and went to Chicago in 1922, playing local clubs. It was with this band that he made his first recordings and began clarinet and oboe lessons. Among his influences were Barney Bigard and Fletcher Henderson.
6. Beah Richards, actress of stage, screen and television. She was a poet, playwright and author.
She made numerous guest television appearances including recurrent roles on The Bill Cosby Show, Sanford and Son, Designing Women, The Practice, and ER (as Dr. Peter Benton’s mother.) She was the winner of two Emmy Awards, one in 1988 for her appearance on the series Frank’s Place, and another in 2000 for her appearance on The Practice.
7. William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr., comedian, actor, author, television producer, educator, musician and activist. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start at various clubs, then landed a starring role in the 1960s action show, I Spy. He later starred in his own series, the situation comedy The Bill Cosby Show, in 1969. He was one of the major characters on the children’s television series The Electric Company for its first two seasons, and created the humorous educational cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, about a group of young friends growing up in the city. Cosby has also acted in a number of films. During the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in what is considered to be one of the decade’s defining sitcoms, The Cosby Show, which aired eight seasons from 1984 to 1992.
8. Denise Nicholas, actress and social activist who was involved in the American Civil Rights Movement. She is known primarily for her role as high school guidance counselor Liz McIntyre on the ABC comedy-drama series Room 222, and for her role as Councilwoman Harriet DeLong on the NBC/CBS drama series In the Heat of the Night.
9. Ruth-Miriam Garnett, poet, writer, and workshop coordinator. Garnett’s parents took her and her siblings to picket lines to protest segregated facilities in the St. Louis area when she was a child. After the protests, their friends and colleagues would gather in their family living room, sing freedom songs, and converse about contemporary politics. Garnett holds a BA in Social Anthropology and English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University. She has done further work in Anthropology at Columbia University and Dance Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.
10. Tonya Lee Williams, actress, best known for her role as Dr. Olivia Barber Winters on the American soap opera The Young and the Restless, from 1990 to 2005, and for a brief time in 2007. She returned to the series in the fall of 2008.
11. Rolonda Watts, actress and former television talk show host. She was the host of the Rolonda, a syndicated talk show which aired from 1994 to 1997. She is currently the announcer of the courtroom show Judge Joe Brown.
12. Lisa Nicole Carson, actress. She is best known for her work on U.S. television, including supporting roles in NBC’s ER and Fox’s Ally McBeal. Carson appeared in the roles simultaneously, but has since appeared in no other roles.
13. Phoebe Snow (Phoebe Ann Laub) singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known for her 1975 hit “Poetry Man.”