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African American Leaders

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Ashley White

General Writing

Martha McCully

3/28/02

Jesse Jackson, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B DuBois are all African American leaders. All of these men were leaders in their own time and their own sense, living in different eras with different views, but they all shared common ground. All four were African Americans trying to overcome obstacles and become influential leaders in their society.

Jesse Jackson was an African American civil rights activist and political leader. He was born in Greenville, South Carolina in 1941. Jackson overcame numerous childhood insecurities. He was shunned and taunted my classmates and neighbors. However, instead of letting this adversity defeat him, Jackson developed his exceptional drive and understanding for the oppressed. He worked hard in school, finishing 10th in his class while actively involved in sports. His academic and athletic background earned Jackson a football scholarship at the University of Illinois in Chicago. It was here Jackson realized discrimination was inescapable. After 3 years he left the University and attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, an institution for African-American students. He proved himself to be scholar athlete.

Soon after college Jesse Jackson began his civil rights quest. He founded two groups, the PUSH operation and the rainbow coalition, in order to promote racial and economic justice in the United States. Then, in 1984 and 1988 Jackson campaigned as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Even today, Jackson is renowned spokesman and continues to work for racial and economic justice.

Mumia Abu-Jamal was a radio journalist in Philadelphia, known as "the voice of the voiceless". He was born in Philadelphia on April 24, 1954. Mumia Abu Jamal was the Minister of Information for the Philadelphia Black Panthers at a very early age. By the age of 15 he had attracted much attention through his protests and thus, the FBI began keeping a file on him. He worked as a print and radio journalist who had aired on National Public Radio and National Black Network. He had also served as president of the Philadelphia Society of Black Journalists. Jamal's style of journalism allowed the voices of ordinary people to be broadcast.

He was an African American that was put on trial for a murder charge. However, Jamal's case has been much publicized for reasons that have no direct bearing on his guilt or innocence: Jamal is a self -proclaimed black "revolutionary," and an extraordinarily articulate and talented journalist. That is what drew attention to his trial. For the last 17 years Mumia has been locked up and denied any visits from family or press. Although imprisoned and "silenced" he is still considered an influential voice.

Booker T. Washington rose up from slavery and illiteracy to become the foremost educator and leader of black Americans at the turn of the century. He was born on April 5, 1856 in Franklin County, Virginia. As a child he worked in the salt mines but always found time for education. Washington constantly dreamed of college but as an African American this dream was nearly impossible. His scrupulous working habits from the mines set him out for college at the Hampton Institute. He graduated in 1876 and became a teacher at a rural school. After 2 years of teaching, he went back to the Hampton Institute and was a "professor" here for 2 more years. His next challenge would be at a new all black college, Tuskegee Institute where he would become president. Under Washington's

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