Clarence Brooks

(1896-1969) Clarence Brooks was born in San Antonio, Texas in December 1896. In 1915, Brooks along with actor Noble Johnson, Noble’s brother, George Johnson, Dr. James T. Smith, and Dudley A. Brooks formed The Lincoln Motion Picture Company, a company that sought to make films correcting distortions of African American images in motion pictures while also…

Read More

Sidney P. Dones

(1888-1947) Sidney Preston Dones was born in Marshall, Texas in 1888. After graduating from Wiley College in 1905 he moved to Los Angeles. In 1906, Dones moved to El Paso, Texas where he unsuccessfully tried to establish an African-American colony in Mexico.   Returning to California, he began to prosper by buying and selling real estate.  He…

Read More

Nina Mae McKinney

Born Nannie Mayme McKinney to Hal and Georgia McKinney on June 12, 1912 in Lancaster, South Carolina, McKinney was brought up by a great-aunt, Carrie Sanders, in Lancaster when her parents moved to New York in search of better opportunities. Stage struck at an early age, she appeared in plays at the black Lancaster Industrial…

Read More

Herb Jeffries

a/k/a Herbert Jeffery a/k/a The Bronze Buckaroo Update:  On May 26, 2014, Variety reported that a pioneer in African American-targeted Western movies and jazz singer Herb Jeffries, a/k/a the “Bronze Buckaroo,” died. He was 100.  Jeffries died of heart failure in West Hills, California on Sunday, May 25, 2014, according to the LA Times.  His health had been…

Read More

Jeni LeGon

Also known as:  Jennie May Ligon, Jennie Le Gon, Jenny Le Gon, Jeni Le Gon, Jeni Legon DOB:  August 14, 1916 DOD:  December 7, 2012 Ms. LeGon was a rare female tapper who distinguished herself as a solo performer in the first half of the 20th century. She wore pants rather than skirts when she…

Read More

Evelyn Preer

Evelyn Jarvis was born July 26, 1896 in Vicksburg, MS. She was the oldest of three children born to Frank and Blanche Jarvis. After the death of Frank Jarvis, the family migrated to Chicago where Evelyn completed grammar and high school. She was brought up in a stern, religious household but Evelyn convinced her mother…

Read More