1. John Merrick, entrepreneur born in Clinton, North Carolina, who founded the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. Merrick was born into slavery and raised by a single mother. He began working in business and entrepreneurship early with barbershops, and he involved the community in his businesses. He eventually founded not only the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, but many other companies, such as banks, in the Raleigh-Durham area.
1. Jacob Lawrence, painter; he was married to fellow artist Gwendolyn Knight. Lawrence referred to his style as “dynamic cubism”, though by his own account the primary influence was not so much French art as the shapes and colors of Harlem.
Lawrence is among the best-known twentieth century painters and was only in his twenties when his “Migration Series” made him nationally famous. A part of this series was featured in a 1941 issue of Fortune magazine. The series depicted the epic Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North. The collection has been split into two parts for public viewing.
2. Theodore Walter (Sonny) Rollins, Blues and Jazz Musician, Jazz saxophonist. Grammy-winning jazz tenor saxophonist. Rollins is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential jazz musicians. A number of his compositions have become jazz standards.
3. James Milton Campbell, Jr., better known as Little Milton, electric blues ,rhythm and blues, and soul singer and guitarist, best known for his hit records “Grits Ain’t Groceries” and “We’re Gonna Make It.”, “If Walls Could Talk”, “Let’s Get Together”
4. Benjamin “Benny” Latimore , Charleston, Tennessee), usually known professionally simply as Latimore, is an American R&B singer, songwriter and pianist.(Let’s Straighten It Out)
5. Alfa Anderson, R&B Singer (Chic), Chic was Disco and R&B band that was organized during 1976 by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards. It is best known for its commercially successful disco songs, including “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” (1977), “Everybody Dance” (1977), “Le Freak” (1978), “I Want Your Love” (1978), “Good Times” (1979), and “My Forbidden Lover” (1979).
6. Gloria Gaynor, Songstress, singer, best known for the disco era hits; “I Will Survive” (Hot 100 number 1, 1979), “Never Can Say Goodbye” (Hot 100 number 9, 1974), “Let Me Know (I Have a Right)” (Hot 100 number 42, 1980) and “I Am What I Am” (R&B number 82, 1983).
7. Michele L. Norris, A radio journalist and current host of the National Public Radio (NPR) evening news program All Things Considered since December 9, 2002. She is the first African American female host for NPR.