Who was Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson?

Halle Tanner was born 1864, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the oldest daughter to Benjamin Tanner and Elizabeth Tanner. The Tanners was an educated black family living in Pennsylvania and her father was a prominent minister at the African Methodist Church. As an young girl Halle, was well educated and became familiar with the work of prominent Black American intellectuals. She began working with her father on The Christian Recorder, a newspaper of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Benjamin ministered.


In 1886, at the age 22 Halle married Charles Dillon, and the couple had a child. Two years later at the age 24 years old Halle became a widow when her  husband died from an known cause. Halle moved back home with her family with her child. After the death of her husband Halle decided to enter medical school. After three years of study at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, where she excelled, and earned her M.D. in 1891, at the age 27, graduating with honors.

The same year of her graduation, Prominent Black American educator Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915), founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama had written a letter to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in request for an nomination for a teaching position he had been struggling to fill for four years. Dr. Dillon stepped up and accepted Washington offer of $600 a month, including lodging and meals. Dr. Dillon arrived at Tuskegee Institute in August 1891, to began service.


Before Dr. Dillon could began work she face an obstacle, she had to pass the Alabama State Medical Examination. Booker T. Washington helped her prepare for her exam by asking Cornelius Nathaniel Dorsette the first Black American licensed physician in the city to help her prepare. The fact that Dr. Dillon was sitting for the examination caused a public stir in Montgomery the states capitol. Dr. Dillon spent ten days taking the exam, addressing a different area of medicine each day. Her examiners included the directors and leading figures of most of the state’s major medical institutions. Dillon impressed them with her responses and she passed the test.

Dr. Dillon was the first woman and Black American woman to practice medicine in the state of Alabama.


During her brief tenure at Tuskegee, she was responsible for the health care of the school’s 450 students and 30 faculty and staff. She also established a training school for nurses and founded the Lafayette Dispensary to serve the health care needs of local residents, often mixing medicines herself for their use. She also taught two classes each day.

In 1894, at the age 30 while working at Tuskegee University Dr. Dillon married the Reverend John Quincy Johnson an theologian and mathematic professor who also worked at Tuskegee University. The newlyweds left Tuskegee and moved first to Columbia, South Carolina, where Reverend Johnson became president of Allen University, a private school for black students. They later moved from Hartford, Connecticut and to Atlanta, Georgia, and then to Princeton, New Jersey, as Reverend Johnson pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees in theology. Finally, in 1900, the couple settled in Nashville, Tennessee with their three children where Reverend Johnson became the pastor of Saint Paul A.M.E. Church. Dr. Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson died on April 26, 1901, at the age 37, in Nashville from complications during childbirth.

Who was Charles Remond Douglass

Charles Remond Douglass was born on October 21, 1844, in Lynn, Massachusetts to parents Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey; c. February 1818 – February 20, 1895), and Anna Murray-Douglass (1813 – August 4, 1882).


Charles was the third born and the youngest of the Douglass children. Six years before Charles was born his father Fredrick successfully escaped slavery on September 3, 1838, and made it all the way to Philadelphia where he changed his name from Bailey to Douglass to symbolize his newly found freedom and married already free black woman Anne Murray. In 1847, at the age 2, Charles father moved the family to Rochester, New York where Charles began his education. As a child Charles worked delivering copies of his father’s newspaper North Star.


Douglass became the first African-American man to enlist for military service in New York during the American Civil War when he volunteered for the 54th  Massachusetts Infantry Regiment . His oldest brother Lewis Henry Douglass (1840–1908), also served in the 54th, ultimately becoming a sergeant major in that regiment. Due to illness in November of 1863, Charles was not able to deploy with the troops, remaining at the training camp in Readville, Massachusetts. He went on to join another black military regiment, the 5th Massachusetts Calvary, in which he rose to the rank of first sergeant. The following year of 1864, Charles was discharged from service due to poor health, at the request of his brother, Lewis.

In 1866 Charles married Mary Elizabeth Murphy, also known as Libbie. The couple had six children: Charles Frederick, Joseph Henry Douglass (1871–1935), Annie Elizabeth, Julia Ada, Mary Louise, and Edward Douglass. Of these six, Joseph Henry was the only one to live to adulthood, becoming a famous violinist. Douglass and his wife were married until her death in 1879. On December 30, 1880, Douglass married his second wife, Laura Haley Canandaigua. The couple had one son together, Haley George Douglass (Nov. 27, 1881 – Jan. 21, 1954), who became a school teacher at Dunbar High School in Washington D.C, and mayor of Highland, Beach Maryland.


From 1867 to 1869, Charles  served as one of the first African-American clerks in the Freedmen’s Bureau when he and his family moved to Washington, D.C.. Charles also served as secretary and treasurer for the District of Columbia schools after he was appointed a trustee in 1872.While working in the district he actively employed the first African-American teachers in the county’s schools and assured they received equal pay. He served as a clerk to the Santo Domingo Commission in 1873, then returned to the Caribbean when United States President Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885), appointed him consul to Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo. In 1875 Charles became a clerk in the United States Consulate in  Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, where he remained until 1879 when he returned to the United States after his  first wife’s death. He then moved to Corona, New York and entered the West India commissions business. In 1882 Douglass began working as an examiner for the Pension Bureau in Washington, DC.After 53 years in government service, he retired in August 1920.


After Charles father purchased the “New National Era” in 1870, he became a correspondent for the paper. He became a real estate developer and developed a 26-acre tract with 1400 feet of beach front summer resort in Maryland  in 1892 that became known as Highland Beach.  His youngest son, Haley George would later become mayor of Highland Beach For many years he served as president of the Bethel Literary and Historical Association, a cultural and literary institution for African Americans in Washington, D.C. Charles also became a member of the District of Columbia’s branch for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Charles Remond Douglass died  on November 23, 1920 at the age 76, in Washington D.C, after a short illness attributed to Bright’s Disease. He was buried at Columbian Harmony Cemetery in Washington, D.C. He was survived by his wife Laura, and his two sons Joseph Douglass and Haley George Douglass.


Highland Beach

Highland Beach, Maryland, the oldest of the major black resort towns, was founded along the western shore of Chesapeake Bay in the summer of 1893, by Charles Remond Douglass and his wife Laura Douglass after they was turned away from a restaurant at the nearby Bay Ridge resort because of their race.

Charles Douglass was the son of prominent abolitionist and 19th century Civil Rights activist Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey February 1818 – February 20, 1895. Major Charles Douglass, however, was prominent in his own right.  He was a retired officer formerly with the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, the famed regiment first established during the American Civil War, and longtime Treasury Department clerk.


Located in Anne Arundel County, 35 miles east of Washington D.C. and a few miles south of Annapolis, Maryland, Highland Beach became the first African American-owned summer resort community in the United States. In fact it was established because of an act of racial discrimination. In 1890 Major Douglass and his wife were denied entry into a restaurant at The Bay Ridge Resort on Chesapeake Bay because they were African American.  In response Douglass entered the real estate business and began purchasing beachfront property directly south of Bay Ridge.  When he acquired slightly more than 40 acres for $5,000 he began developing the property as a summer resort community by selling lots to family and friends. Among the earliest purchasers were Blanche Kelso Bruce (March 1, 1841 – March 17, 1898), the Reconstruction-era U.S. Senator from Mississippi, former Virginia Congressman John Mercer Langston (December 14, 1829 – November 15, 1897), former Louisiana Governor Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback (born Pinckney Benton Stewart May 10, 1837 – December 21, 1921), Washington hotel owner James Wormley (January 16, 1819 – October 18, 1884), and Judge Robert Heberton Terrell and his wife, Mary Church Terrell (September 23, 1863 – July 24, 1954).  Robert Terrell was the first black judge in the District of Columbia.


Charles Douglass also began building a large family summer house which he named Twin Oaks.  Intended primarily as a retirement residence for his father, Twin Oaks soon became a gathering place for many influential African Americans who lived in the Washington-Baltimore area but who visited Frederick Douglass there.  Although Fredrick Douglass died before he could move permanently into the house, Highland Beach, as the surrounding community was now called, quickly became popular with prominent African Americans.  Part-time residents and guests over the years included a who’s who of black America including Paul Leroy Robeson (April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976), Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915), William Edward BurghardtW. E. B.Du Bois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963), James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967),  Robert Clifton Weaver (December 29, 1907 – July 17, 1997), and Alexander Murray Palmer “Alex” Haley (August 11, 1921 – February 10, 1992).

Charles Douglass claimed his greatest success in establishing Highland Beach was in circumventing restrictive property covenants in the area that prevented the sale of real estate to blacks and other people of color.  Originally intended as a summer resort, Highland Beach by 1915 was a year round community with many houses and properties still retained by descendants of the original owners.


When founder Charles Douglass died in 1920, the town’s leadership fell into the hands of his son, Haley Douglass who in 1922 led the effort to make Highland Beach the first African American incorporated municipality in the state’s history.  Once incorporated, Douglass and his allies controlled the community for the next three decades and succeeded in their major objective, insuring that the community remained small and exclusive.

Ironically in the community’s determined effort to keep newcomers out, it could not control the land surrounding Highland Beach.  Beginning in the 1940s white and black developers built competing resort communities that attracted newly affluent African Americans.  Also, the older formerly all-white resort community of Arundel-on-the-Bay had become predominately black by 1960.

By the 1990s the combination of high taxes, encroaching upscale housing developments filled with luxury homes, and the flight of younger blacks to newer resorts, left the elderly residents of Highland Beach increasingly isolated. Only about 1,000 residents remained in the community by 2010.



What was the National Afro-American League?

The National Afro-American League (NAAL), was an organization that focus to obtain full citizenship and equality for  African Americans.

The NAAL was established in 1887, it’s founders was Timothy Thomas Fortune (October 3, 1856 – June 2, 1928) and Bishop Alexander Walters (August 1, 1858 – February 2, 1917), with Joseph Charles Price (February 10, 1854 – 1893), serving as the league first president. The league first was named Afro-American League (AAL), but two years after the organization was established the name was changed to National Afro-American League. The purpose behind the organizing of the NAAL was to sought equal opportunities in voting, civil rights, education, and public accommodation. The organization also fought to end lynching’s in the South, but the league mainly focused on obtaining full citizenship and equality for African Americans.


NAAL had it’s first meeting on January 25, 1890, and during the meeting the members adopted an constitution to not allow politician to join in order to stay away from political control. That same year Jim Crow was created and the league had a whole new problem to fight. The league began fighting Jim Crow on legal grounds.

The NAAL had several successful lawsuits including a legal victory involving the bar of a New York City hotel where Fortune himself was refused service. However, due to many who have supported the NAAL stop donating to the League and began donating to National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the organization was unable to continue its efforts and disbanded in 1893. Five years later, the NAAL revived again, but became the Afro American Council (AAC) with Fortune again in a leadership role and Alexander Walters  (August 1, 1858 – February 2, 1917), as president.


Who was Timothy Thomas Fortune?

Timothy T. Fortune was an prominent Black American civil rights leader, journalist, writer, editor, and publisher.

Fortune was born into slavery in Marianna, Jackson County, Florida on October 3, 1856, to parents Emanuel and Sarah Jane Fortune. The Fortune’s was emancipated in 1863, by United states 16th President Abraham Lincoln. Fortune began his education at Stanton High School for Negros (now Stanton College Preparatory School). After graduating Fortune moved North to Delaware where he found work as an customs inspector. Fortune enrolled into Howard University where he studied law, but after one year of school Fortune decided he wanted to be an journalist.


Fortune moved to Alexandria, Virginia where he meant his wife Carrie C. Smiley. And in 1876, he found his first newspaper People’s Advocate. After receiving a lot of racial discrimination, Fortune decided to moved his family to New York in 1881. Settled in New York, Fortune established another newspaper called New York Globe, ended up changing the name twice. First to New York Freeman and finally to New York Age. Fortune became known as the greatest black newspaper writer.


After what Fortune witnessed what was happening to Black Americans throughout the South he used his journalist popularity and began to fight for civil rights for black Americans. In 1887, Fortune established the National Afro-American League (NAAL), along with another prominent black American Bishop Alexander Walters (August 1, 1858 – February 2, 1917). The league main focus was to obtain full citizenship and equality for Black Americans. The league was short lived disbanding in 1893, due to lack of support and funds.

In 1927, at the age 67 Fortune was made editor of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., (17 August 1887 – 10 June 1940), newspaper called Negro World. He held that position until his death.

Timothy Thomas Fortune died on June 2, 1928, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was 72.

Who was Bishop Alexander Walters?

Bishop Alexander Walters was an American clergyman and noted civil rights leader.

Alexander Walters was born August 1, 1858 in Bardstown, Kentucky the oldest son of Henry and Harriet Walters, the sixth of eight children.  By the age of ten, Walters had shown such academic progress that he was awarded by the African Episcopal Zion Church a full scholarship to attend private schooling. In 1877 at the age of nineteen, Walters received his license to preach and began his pastoral duties in Indianapolis, Indiana. In his career as a pastor, Walter served in cities across the country including Louisville, San Francisco, Portland (Oregon), Chattanooga, Knoxville and New York. In 1892, as a minister at the Seventh District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Walters was selected as bishop.


In 1898, Bishop Alexander Walters began to devote his attention to the ongoing African American civil rights struggle.  In partnership with T. Thomas Fortune, the editor of the New York Age, Walters founded the National Afro-American Council and served as its president.  This organization focused primarily on challenging racially discriminatory legislation and in particular the “separate but equal” Plessy vs. Ferguson U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1896.  Walters also challenged Booker T. Washington’s ideas of accommodation to segregation and discrimination.

Bishop Walters, in partnership with W.E.B DuBois, was a member of the 1908, Niagara Movement from which he helped in organizing the founding conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  Walters became vice president of the NAACP in 1911. Bishop Walters declined an invitation by President Woodrow Wilson to be minister (ambassador) to Liberia in order to prompt AMEZ Church education programs in the United States.


Until his death in 1917, Bishop Alexander Walters continued to remain active in his leadership of AMEZ Church affairs and maintained his devoted support as a formidable civil rights advocate of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Bishop Alexander Walters died on February 2, 1917.

Who was Joseph Charles Price?

Joseph Charles Price, founder and first president of Livingston College, in North Carolina, was born free on February 10, 1854 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. His mother, a free black woman named Emily Paulin, moved with her son to New Bern, North Carolina which was then occupied by Union forces, to escape the violence of the Civil War. Shortly after, she married David Price and Joseph took his stepfather’s name.  In New Bern Joseph Price studied at St. Cyprian Episcopal School founded for the children of ex-slaves by Boston educators.  He later attended Shaw University in Raleigh in 1873 but transferred to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1875.  Price graduated as valedictorian in 1879 after winning several oratorical prizes.  Impressed with the young Price, Bishop James Walker Hood of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church appointed him to its delegation to the World Ecumenical Conference meeting in London, England.


In London Price amazed audiences with his powerful speaking.  Called “The World’s Orator” by the British press, Price was encouraged by the delegation to stay in England and raise funds for the reestablishment of Zion Wesley Institute, later to be Livingston College.  The original school was founded in 1870 as a seminary for training A.M.E. Zion ministers but closed after only three years in operations.  Over the next year, Price was able to raise $10,000 for the school and returned to North Carolina in 1882.  The town of Salisbury offered the school $1,000 and 40 acres called “Delta Grove” belonging to J.M. Gray.  The school opened later that year with 28-year-old Joseph Price as its president.

For the next ten years Price served as president of Livingston College. In 1890 he became involved in the Afro-American League and was elected president of the National Protective Association.  That same year he was voted one of the “Ten Greatest Negroes Who Ever Lived.” Price advocated education to help ameliorate the damages done by generations of slavery and discrimination for whites as well as blacks. He died in Salisbury, North Carolina in 1893.



Black Americans Hunted and Killed Phoenix Election Night Riot

The Phoenix Election riot beginning on November 8, 1898, was a riot and mass lynching initiated by white South Carolinians in the name of Redemption in Greenwood County, South Carolina. Over a dozen prominent black leaders were murdered and hundreds were injured by the all white mob.

The small town of Phoenix was the home of the land-owning white Tolbert family. Its patriarch John R. Tolbert had risen to Colonel in the Confederate Army, but held to liberal principles, voted Republican, and encouraged the local black population to assert their rights. The state legislature had closed all Phoenix polls in 1868 to block the Tolbert’s influence.

On election night 1898 an altercation at a Tolbert-owned store, a white Democratic partisan named J.I. Etheridge was shot and killed. This triggered four days of violence directed mainly at the black population. On the 9th the white mob on horseback encountered a four-year-old Benjamin Elijah Mays (August 1, 1894 – March 28, 1984), and his father, a moment that Mays “never forgot”.Three hundred heavily armed men gathered. An estimated twelve African-Americans were fatally shot or hung, through the 13th. An elderly black woman named Eliza Cooke was also shot and killed. Whites who refused to join were also threatened.

U.S. Senator Benjamin Ryan Tillman (August 11, 1847 – July 3, 1918) was a politician of the Democratic Party and who was the Governor of South Carolina from 1890 to 1894, spoke on the riot a year later, and was quoted as saying, “If you want to uproot the snake [of black voting] and kill it, go and kill the Tolbert’s.”


Booker T. Washington and the Atlanta Compromise

The Atlanta compromise was an agreement struck in 1895 between Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915), president of the Tuskegee University, and other Black American leaders, and Southern white leaders. The compromise was announced on September 18, 1895, at the Atlanta Exposition Speech. The agreement was that Southern Blacks would work and submit to white Political rule, and Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic education and due process in law. The compromise also was that blacks would not agitate for equality, integrations or justice, and whites would fund blacks educational charities.


The agreement was never written down. Essential elements of the agreement were that blacks would not ask for the right to vote. The Compromise agreement had it’s critics, none more than two prominent black leaders of that time W.E. Du Bois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) and William Monroe Trotter (April 7, 1872 – April 7, 1934). Both men ), took issue with the compromise, instead believing that African-Americans should engage in a struggle for civil rights. W. E. B. Du Bois coined the term “Atlanta Compromise” to denote the agreement. The term “accommodationism” is also used to denote the essence of the Atlanta compromise.

After Washington’s death in 1915, supporters of the Atlanta compromise gradually shifted their support to civil rights activism, until the modern Civil Rights Movement commenced in the 1950s.

Why would Booker T. Washington find the Atlanta Compromise acceptable is unclear. His motives behind it is also unclear.


Lynching at the Peoples Grocery

The People’s Grocery was owned by prominent blacks in Memphis. The store was located outside of Memphis. One of the owners were Thomas or Tommie Moss an friend to Ida B. Well.

It all began on a Wednesday afternoon of March 2, 1892 when a young black boy named Armour Harris and a white boy named Cornelius Hurst got into a fight over a game of marbles outside of the Peoples Grocery. Hurst father stepped in and began beating Harris. Two black worker at the Peoples Grocery Will Stewart and Calvin McDowell came to Harris defense. When a white grocer William Barrett, who store were located right across the street from the Peoples Grocery, saw that the Hurst was outnumbered he also intervened. At one point during the altercation Barrett was clubbed. After everyone disperse and the police was on scene Barrett identified Steward as the one who assaulted him.

On the following day the police returned to Peoples Grocery to arrest Stewart, but was met by McDowell who told the officers that no one matching Steward description was within the store. Barrett became frustrated and hit McDowell in the face with his revolver knocking McDowell to the floor and dropping his revolver. It was said that McDowell picked up the revolver and fired at Barrett missing. McDowell was taken into police custody.

Hearing about McDowell arrest and the police looking to arrest Steward the black community rallied together to discuss what they should do. Barrett and other whites brought it to the authorities attention of blacks conspiracy against whites.

On the night of March 5, 1892, armed white men marched down to the Peoples Grocery a few were police officers in plain clothing. The black men were waiting inside the store anticipating a attack from whites and they were also armed and ready. What the black men did not know was some of the mob were police officers. When the white mob entered the store shots were fired and several whites were hit. Over powered the injured whites retreated to Barrett store and called in other police officers. When the Black men surrendered to the officers believing they had an arguable case in the court.

Thomas Moss was also arrested even through he was not involved, but because he was an owner of the store whites believed he was the ringleader and he was also indicted for his attitude when he was arrested.

None of the injured Officers died from their wounds.

On Wednesday, March 9, 1892, at about 2:30 a.m. seventy-five men in black masks surrounded the Shelby County Jail and nine entered. They dragged Thomas Moss, Will Stewart, and Calvin McDowell from their cells and brought them to a Chesapeake & Ohio railroad yard a mile outside of Memphis.

At the railroad yard McDowell “struggled mightily” and at one point managed to grab a shotgun from one of his abductors. After the mob wrested it from him they shot at his hands and fingers “inch by inch” until they were shot to pieces. Replicating the wounds the white deputies had suffered they shot four holes into McDowell’s face, each large enough for a fist to enter. His left eye was shot out and the “ball hung over his cheek in shreds.” His jaw was torn out by buckshot. Where “his right eye had been there was a big hole which his brains oozed out.” The Appeal-Avalanche  newspaper added his injuries were in accord with his “vicious and unyielding nature.”

Will Stewart was described as the most stoic of the three, “obdurate and unyielding to the last.” He was also shot on the right side of the neck with a shotgun, and was shot with a pistol in the neck and left eye.

Moss was also shot in the neck. His dying words, reported in the papers, were, “Tell my people to go West, there is no justice for them here.”

This event sparked an emigration movement that eventually saw 6,000 blacks leave Memphis for the Western Territories.