USA Famous People of Alabam Bios

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Henry Louis (Hank) Aaron (1934 - ) Baseball player that holds the record for home runs and runs batted in; born in Mobile.

On April 8, 1999, at Turner Field in Atlanta, Major League Baseball celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of Henry Aaron’s 715th home run, which propelled him past Babe Ruth to the top of the game’s all-time home run list. Those expecting to recapture the spark of that long-ago moment may have felt a letdown. The ceremony, while touching and heartfelt, was a made-for- television event that featured stock-footage clips of Aaron and a few neatly crafted tomes recited in Aaron’s honor. In retrospect, there may have been no tribute more fitting, for the Aaron with whom we have become comfortable is, after all, a creation of the media.

More than a “sports bio” of a baseball icon, HAMMERING HANK is a fascinating account of how the media shaped Henry Aaron, baseball’s most prolific home run hitter. It is, first and foremost, the story of a baseball life. But it also is a look at a life affected more than most by events outside of baseball. • (Hank) Aaron Books

Ralph Abernathy civil rights activist, Linden - Ralph David Abernathy (March 11, 1926 – April 17, 1990) was a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement of the 20th Century, a minister, civil rights leader and a close associate of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Following King's assassination, Dr. Abernathy took up the leadership of the SCLC Poor People's Campaign and led the March on Washington, D.C. that had been planned for May 1968. Ralph David Abernathy was awarded five Honorary Doctorate degrees.

Ralph David Abernathy, Sr., was born March 11, 1926, on his father's 500-acre farm in Linden, Alabama. After serving in the United States Army during World War II, he enrolled at Alabama State University, in Montgomery, Alabama, graduating with Honors and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics in 1950. At Alabama State University, he would later become a professor of mathematics and a dean. His interest in philosophy and involvement in political activism developed in college as the Student Body President, while he was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, where he led demonstrations protesting the lack of heat and hot water in his dormitory and food service in the cafeteria. In 1951 he earned a Masters of Science in Sociology from Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University). As the Vice President of the Montgomery Improvement Association, he completed his Master’s Thesis in Sociology for Atlanta University,  • Ralph Abernathy Books

Tallulah Brockman Bankhead actress, Huntsville Tallulah Brockman Bankhead (January 31, 1902 – December 12, 1968) was an American actress, talk-show host and bon vivant

Bankhead was born in Huntsville, Alabama to William Brockman Bankhead and Adelaide Eugenia Bankhead (nιe Sledge) and was named after her paternal grandmother. Her mother, Adelaide, died as a result of blood poisoning on February 23, 1902, shortly after Bankhead's birth. Bankhead has been described as "an extremely homely child", overweight and with a deep, husky voice resulting from chronic bronchitis. However, others described her as an exhibitionist, performer, personality, and star from the very beginning.

Bankhead came from a powerful Democratic political family in the South in general and Alabama in particular. Her father was the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1936-1940 (in the 74th, 75th, and 76th Congresses), immediately preceding Sam Rayburn. She was the niece of Senator John H. Bankhead II and granddaughter of Senator John H. Bankhead. Bankhead herself was a Democrat, albeit one of a more liberal stripe than the rest of her family. • Tallulah Bankhead Books • Tallulah Bankhead Movies

Hugo LaFayette Black jurist, Harlan (February 27, 1886 – September 25, 1971) was an American politician and jurist. A member of the Democratic Party, Black represented the state of Alabama in the United States Senate from 1927 to 1937, and served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1937 to 1971. Black was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 63 to 13. He was first of nine Roosevelt nominees to the Court, and with the exception of William O. Douglas, he outlasted them all. Black is widely regarded as one of the most influential Supreme Court justices in the 20th century.

The fourth longest-serving justice in Supreme Court history, Black is noted for his advocacy of a textualist reading of the United States Constitution and of the position that the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights were imposed on the states ("incorporated") by the Fourteenth Amendment. • Hugo LaFayette Black Books

George Washington Carver (1864 - 1943), educator and agricultural chemist at Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute.

This book is well written. Unlike many of the biographies on the bookshelves of the national chains these days, this biography was not written to sell so much as to inform and enlighten. The author gives us a very close glimpse of Carver, from his youth through his college years and professional life. The reader feels as though he has met this man at one time or another because the author has presented Mr Carver's progression and accomplishments through life in a very human light. There are constant reminders of the motives behind Carver's decisions and actions which stem from his personal Christian belief that he is on mission to fulfill a purpose and find meaning in his life and career by serving others. I believe that this biography is very informative and does great service to a great man by accurately presenting the facts of his life and his deepest feelings and thoughts. This book was written at a time before the onslaught of cheap biographies which are now published to entice the reader with "national enquirer" style gossip and political correctness, the sole purpose being to ring the cash register. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about Georre W. Carver on a deeper level. • George Washington Carver Books

Nathaniel Adams “Nat King” Cole (1917 - 1965) Popular singer known as the man with the velvet voice and song “Unforgettable”; born in Montgomery.

Title is "The Incomparable Nat King Cole" His Career . His Life . His Legacy!!!! He was one of the greatest singers in his time and will never be forgotten for his beautiful smooth voice. This book was a Collector's Edition given to me. I have never seen such a wonderful book published with pictures from his career and life time. It even has his Eulogy and pictures of his funeral. Also a personal statement from Glenn Wallichs, Chairman of the Board of Capitol Records. On the back page is a list of his Capitol Records and Album. No one can replace this man's voice. • Nat King Cole Books

Marva Collins educator, Monroeville born August 31, 1936, to Henry and Bessie Knight, Jr. in Atmore, Alabama, is an educator who in 1975 started Westside Preparatory School in Garfield Park, an impoverished neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. She ran the school for more than 30 years until it closed in 2008, due to lack of sufficient enrollment and funding.  She is famous for applying classical education successfully with impoverished students, many of whom had been wrongly labeled as 'learning-disabled' by public schools. She once wrote, "I have discovered few learning disabled students in my three decades of teaching. I have, however, discovered many, many victims of teaching inabilities."  She has written a number of manuals, books and motivational tracts describing her history and methods, and currently (2006) has a web site and public speaking service. She was most widely publicized in the 1981 biographical TV movie The Marva Collins Story starring Cicely Tyson and Morgan Freeman.

She graduated from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia known today as Clark Atlanta University, and then taught school for two years in Alabama, then moved to Chicago, where she taught in public schools for fourteen years. In 1975 she started Westside Preparatory, which became an educational and commercial success. In 1996 she began supervising three Chicago public schools that had been placed on probation. In 2004 she received a National Humanities Medal, among many awards for her teaching and efforts at school reform. • Marva Collins Books

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald writer, Montgomery (July 24, 1900 – March 10, 1948), born Zelda Sayre in Montgomery, Alabama, was an American novelist and the wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. She was an icon of the 1920s—dubbed by her husband "the first American Flapper". After the success of his first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), the Fitzgeralds became celebrities. The newspapers of New York saw them as embodiments of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties: young, seemingly wealthy, beautiful, and energetic.

Even as a child her audacious behavior was the subject of Montgomery gossip. Shortly after finishing high school, she met F. Scott Fitzgerald at a dance. A whirlwind courtship ensued. Though he had professed his infatuation, she continued seeing other men. Despite fights and a prolonged break-up, they married in 1920, and spent the early part of the decade as literary celebrities in New York. Later in the 1920s, they moved to Europe, recast as famous expatriates of the Lost Generation. While Scott received acclaim for The Great Gatsby and his short stories, and the couple socialized with literary luminaries like Ernest Hemingway, their marriage was a tangle of jealousy, resentment and acrimony. Scott used their relationship as material in his novels, even lifting snippets from Zelda's diary and assigning them to his fictional heroines. Seeking an artistic identity of her own, Zelda wrote magazine articles and short stories, and at 27 became obsessed with a career as a ballerina, practicing to exhaustion. • Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Books

Bobby Goldsboro entertainer, Dothan (born January 18, 1941) is an American country and pop singer-songwriter

Born in Marianna, Florida, Goldsboro's family moved 35 miles north from Marianna to Dothan, Alabama in 1956. He graduated from Dothan High School in 1959, and later enrolled at Auburn University. Goldsboro left college after his second year to pursue a musical career. He played guitar for Roy Orbison from 1962 to 1964, while releasing a few unsuccessful singles.

Goldsboro's solo career picked up steam with the Top Ten hit "See the Funny Little Clown." The self-penned single reached No. 9 on the U.S. national charts in early 1964. Goldsboro would go on to have 11 Top 40 hits on the national Hot 100, and 12 on the country chart. His biggest hit was 1968's "Honey", a maudlin tear-jerker about the death of a man's young wife. The song, written by Bobby Russell, was recorded in one take. It topped the U.S. chart for four weeks, reached Number 2 in the UK Singles Chart on two separate occasions (1968 and 1975), and was a #1 single in Australia. The single sold in excess of one million copies. It also became his first country hit, and marked a career transition, as his songs became more successful on the country chart than on the pop side. Goldsboro's last Top 40 hit on the Hot 100 came in late 1973, but he remained a fixture in the country top 40 into the early 1980s.• Bobby Goldsboro Discography • Bobby Goldsboro Books

William Crowford Gorgas army officer, physician, Mobile - KCMG (October 3, 1854 – July 3, 1920) was a United States physician and 22nd Surgeon General of the U.S. Army (1914-18). He is best known for his work in abating the transmission of yellow fever and malaria by controlling the mosquitoes that carry them at a time when there was considerable skepticism and opposition to such measures. Born at Toulminville, Alabama, Gorgas was the first of six children of Josiah Gorgas and Amelia Gayle Gorgas.

After studying at The University of the South and Bellevue Hospital Medical College, Doctor Gorgas was appointed to the US Army Medical Corps in June 1880. Gorgas was assigned to three posts -- Fort Clark, Fort Duncan, and Fort Brown -- in Texas. While at Fort Brown (1882-84), he survived yellow fever and met Marie Cook Doughty, whom he married in 1885. In 1898 after the end of the Spanish-American War Gorgas was appointed Chief Sanitary Officer in Havana, working to eradicate yellow fever and malaria. • William Crowford Gorgas Books

Lionel Leo Hampton (April 20, 1908 – August 31, 2002) was an American jazz vibraphonist, pianist, percussionist, bandleader and actor. Like Red Norvo, he was one of the first jazz vibraphone players. Hampton ranks among the great names in jazz history, having worked with a who's who of jazz musicians, from Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich to Charlie Parker and Quincy Jones. In 1992, he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

Lionel Hampton was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1908, and was raised by his grandmother. Shortly after he was born, he and his mother moved to her hometown Birmingham, Alabama.. He spent his early childhood in Kenosha, Wisconsin before he and his family moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1916. As a youth, Hampton was a member of the Bud Billiken Club, an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America due to segregation. During the 1920s—while still a teenager—Hampton took xylophone lessons from Jimmy Bertrand and started playing drums.[5] Hampton was raised Roman Catholic, and started out playing fife and drum at the Holy Rosary Academy near Chicago • Lionel Hampton Website • Lionel Hampton Discography • Lionel Hampton Books

William Christopher Handy composer, Florence (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958) was a blues composer and musician, often known as the "Father of the Blues".

Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a not very well-known regional music style to one of the dominant forces in American music.

Handy was an educated musician who used folk material in his compositions. He was scrupulous in documenting the sources of his works, which frequently combined stylistic influences from several performers. He loved this folk musical form and brought his own transforming touch to it. • William Christopher Handy Books • William Christopher Handy Discography

Emmylou Harris (born April 2, 1947, Birmingham, Alabama) is an American country singer-songwriter and musician. In addition to her work as a solo artist and bandleader, both as an interpreter of other composers' works and as a singer-songwriter, she is a sought-after backing vocalist and duet partner, working with numerous other artists. Emmylou Harris is the daughter of a career military father, a Marine Corps officer who was reported missing in action in Korea in 1952 and spent ten months as a prisoner of war. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, she spent her childhood in North Carolina and Woodbridge, Virginia, where she graduated from Gar-Field Senior High School as class valedictorian. In high school she also won a drama scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she began to study music seriously, learning to play the songs of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez on guitar. Leaving college to pursue her musical aspirations, she moved to New York, working as a waitress to support herself while performing folk songs in Greenwich Village coffeehouses. She married fellow songwriter Tom Slocum in 1969 and in the following year recorded her first album, Gliding Bird. Harris and Slocum soon divorced, and Harris and her newborn daughter Hallie moved in with her parents in the Maryland suburbs on the edge of Washington, D.C • Emmylou Harris Website • Emmylou Harris Discography • Emmy Lou Harris Books
Kate Jackson actress, Birmingham Kate Jackson (born October 29, 1948) is an American actress, director, and producer. She is a three-time Emmy Award nominee, twice in the Best Actress category and once in the Best Supporting Actress category. She has also been nominated for several Golden Globe Awards, and has won the title of Favorite Television Actress in England, and Favorite Television Star in Germany several times for her work in the television series, Scarecrow and Mrs. King.

She also co-produced that series through her production company, Shoot the Moon Enterprises Ltd. with Warner Brothers Television. She is perhaps best-known for her role as Sabrina Duncan in the hugely popular 1970s television series Charlie's Angels. Jackson has starred in a number of theatrical and TV films, and played the lead role on the short-lived television adaptation of the film Baby Boom.

Jackson is a breast cancer survivor following two bouts with the disease in the late 1980s, and she serves as a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. • Kate Jackson Books • Kate Jackson Movies

Percy Lavon Julian inventor, Montgomery (April 11, 1899 – April 19, 1975) was an African American research chemist and a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. He was the first to synthesize the natural product physostigmine; and was an African American pioneer in the industrial large-scale chemical synthesis of the human hormones, steroids, progesterone, and testosterone, from plant sterols such as stigmasterol and sitosterol. His work would lay the foundation for the steroid drug industry's production of cortisone, other corticosteroids, and birth control pills. He later started his own company to synthesize steroid intermediates from the Mexican wild yam. His work helped reduce the cost of steroid intermediates to large multinational pharmaceutical companies.

During his lifetime he received more than 130 chemical patents. Julian was one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate in chemistry. He was the first African-American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, and the second African-American scientist inducted from any field. • Percy Lavon Julian Books

Mae Jemison (1956 - ) First African-American woman in space.

Mae Carol Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama, the youngest child to Charlie Jemison and Dorothy Green. Her father was a maintenance supervisor for a charity organization, and her mother worked most of her career as an elementary school teacher of English and math at the Beethoven School in Chicago. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, when Jemison was 3, to take advantage of better educational opportunities there. Jemison says that as a young girl growing up in Chicago she always assumed she would get into space. "I thought, by now, we'd be going into space like you were going to work."She said it was easier to apply to be a shuttle astronaut, "rather than waiting around in a cornfield, waiting for ET to pick me up or something." • Mae Jemison Books

Helen Keller (1880 - 1968) Blind and deaf author and lecturer; born in Tuscumbia.Helen Keller would not be bound by conditions. Rendered deaf and blind at 19 months by scarlet fever, she learned to read (in several languages) and even speak, eventually graduating with honors from Radcliffe College in 1904, where as a student she wrote The Story of My Life. That she accomplished all of this in an age when few women attended college and the disabled were often relegated to the background, spoken of only in hushed tones, is remarkable. But Keller's many other achievements are impressive by any standard: she authored 13 books, wrote countless articles, and devoted her life to social reform. An active and effective suffragist, pacifist, and socialist (the latter association earned her an FBI file), she lectured on behalf of disabled people everywhere. She also helped start several foundations that continue to improve the lives of the deaf and blind around the world. • Helen Keller Books
Coretta Scott King civil rights leader, Marion (April 27, 1927 – January 30, 2006) was an American author, activist, and civil rights leader. The widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King helped lead the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

Mrs. King's most prominent role may have been in the years after her husband's 1968 assassination when she took on the leadership of the struggle for racial equality herself and became active in the Women's Movement.

Coretta Scott King was the second of three children born to Obadiah "Obie" Scott (1899-1998) and Bernice McMurray Scott (1904-1996) in Perry County, Alabama. She had an older sister named Edythe, born in 1925, and a younger brother named Obadiah Leonard, born in 1930. The Scotts owned a farm, which had been in the family since the American Civil War, but were not particularly wealthy. During the Great Depression the Scott children picked cotton to help earn money. Obie was the first black in their neighborhood to own a truck. He had a barber shop in their home. He also owned a lumber mill, which was burned down by white neighbors. • Coretta Scott King Books

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968) Famous minister and civil rights leader; lived in Montgomery.

Celebrated Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson is the director and editor of the Martin Luther King Papers Project; with thousands of King's essays, notes, letters, speeches, and sermons at his disposal, Carson has organized King's writings into a posthumous autobiography. In an early student essay, King prophetically penned: "We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance.... We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime." Such statements, made throughout King's career, are skillfully woven together into a coherent narrative of the quest for social justice. The autobiography delves, for example, into the philosophical training King received at Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary, and Boston University, where he consolidated the teachings of Afro-American theologian Benjamin Mays with the philosophies of Locke, Rousseau, Gandhi, and Thoreau. Through King's voice, the reader intimately shares in his trials and triumphs, including the Montgomery Boycott, the 1963 "I Have a Dream Speech," the Selma March, and the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. •

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