Can you help connect the “100 Greatest African Americans” to the global tree for Black History Month?

+49 votes

Welcome to the Black History Month Celebrate – A - Thon! The fun starts on February 1st and lasts until the 28th of the month.

This month, we are going to concentrate on connecting, sourcing, and generally improving the profiles of the 100 Greatest African-Americans!  So, how does one qualify as being one of the 100 Greatest African-Americans?  Do you have to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee?”  Well, if you do, you ARE on the list.  Sounds random, but it’s not.  In 2002, Molefi Kete Asante of Temple University compiled a list, and accompanying book, of the 100 Greatest African-Americans.  The list was compiled of African-Americans who:

• Demonstrate significant progress towards realizing full equality in the American social and political systems.

• Have been willing to sacrifice and take great risks for the “collective good.”

• Showed unusual determination in the face of great danger against even the most stubborn odds.

• Raised the social, cultural, and economic status of African-Americans.

• Had achievements revealing the best qualities of the African-American people.

Examples of completed profiles:

Featured Greatness:

1.  Who am I?  I lived from 1875 to 1950 and was a noted historian, author, and journalist.  I was actually one of the first scholars to study African-American history as a separate area of interest.  In fact, I have often been called “the father of black history.”  It was my idea to launch the celebration of “Negro History Week” which led to … Black History Month!

I am Carter G. Woodson -

2.  Who am I?  I was one of the first US heroes of World War II.  I was the first African-American to be awarded the Navy Cross and I also earned a Purple Heart.  On 7 December 1941, right after serving the breakfast mess (that’s military talk for FOOD, not my skill as a cook), we were hit by Japanese torpedoes.  I reported to “battle stations” only to find mine destroyed.  I ran over to “Times Square” to report for duty and was sent to aid the injured Captain in leaving the bridge, but he refused.  Next, I was sent to assist with the Browning .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine guns.  They expected me to stand around and feed the ammunition to the gun, but I didn’t have time for that, I was already firing even though I was untrained and had both guns loaded.  I fired that bad-boy until we ran out of ammunition, then assisted the injured to get out of harms way before the USS West Virginia sank.

I am Dorie Miller -

Our goal is to connect each profile to the global tree.  The profiles need varying degrees of improvement, to include a well-sourced biography with in-line citations.  Did you see what I just did?  That’s right, something for everyone (connectors, sorcerers, bio builders, you name it!)  Bear in mind that everyone on this list is NOTABLE.  Also, please do not feel that you are responsible to complete all the work needed on a profile – we are collaborating.  By now you must be really intrigued and ready to jump in and help out – here’s the link to the listing.  In the table you’ll find a link to the Wikipedia page, link to the WikiTree profile (if one exists) and other information:

Remember, your sources need to be full and specific so that they are useful to others.  If you find the source online, please link to it.  If it’s a page from a book, indicate the page number.  It would be helpful to create a Research Notes section just above the Sources to note what has and has not been done.  For instance, if you cannot find any sources, you can note that here so other researchers don’t waste their time looking where you have already looked.

Participants are encouraged to post often in this thread with their successes and other experiences and discoveries.  We will not be “tracking” at this time and no participation badges are planned.  This is a celebration of Black History Month.

Speaking of Black History...

Currently, the African-American Project is a sub-project of the History Project.  In order for it to be a top-tier, stand-alone project it will need more volunteers and participation.  Any level of volunteer is welcome, but the project does need another Leader and another Project Coordinator.  Links:

WikiTree profile: Space:African-American_Project
in Requests for Project Volunteers by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (544k points)
edited by Isabelle Martin

Somebody connected Jack Johnson and Joe Louis. This challenge is still in tenth place in terms of percent complete, but the percent complete has increased to 43.3%. (It will take seven more connections to pass Can you help connect a fast food founder? and grab ninth place.)

Erin connected Malcolm X, and somebody has connected Madam C J WalkerBenjamin Oliver David Jr., and Dorothy Height, so this challenge is now in 11th place in terms of percent complete, at 47.8%. The next challenge to catch is Can you help connect a fast food founder?, at 50%. In terms of people still to connect, it's in last place at 47, but that's because there are so many people in the list. The challenge with the next highest number of people to connect is Можете ли вы помочь подключить космонавта?, with 20 people.

Somebody has connected Ernest Everett Just, so this challenge is now 48.9% complete, and snapping at the heels of Can you help connect a fast food founder?, which is at 50%.

Somebody has connected Doris Miller, so this challenge is now tied for 10th place in terms of percent complete, at 50%.

Great. We've been working years to connect Doris Miller.
A couple of updates needed to the list:

On the list, you can update Hank Aaron to deceased. However, he is still not connected.

You can also update Bill Cosby to show that he is connected.

Somebody has connected Ida Wells-BarnettPaul Laurence Dunbar, and Walter Francis White, so this challenge is now in 9th place in terms of percent complete, at 52.7%.

Oh, that was me. Sorry I forgot to comment here.

Emma McBeath has connected Jesse Owens, so this challenge is now in 9th place in terms of percent complete, at 53.8%. In terms of people still to connect, it's at the bottom of the list, with 42.

Somebody connected Roy Wilkins, so this challenge is now 54.9% complete.

22 Answers

+19 votes
Best answer

William Monroe Trotter-1505 is now connected!  His mother Virginia Isaacs Trotter was a direct descendant of Monticello slaves belonging to Thomas Jefferson and his father-in-law.

by Sarah Heiney G2G6 Mach 4 (43.4k points)
selected by Carol Baldwin
Wow, this is awesome good news! Thank you so very much for all you've done!
I think I will spend a little while working on adding more connections to William Monroe and his family.  If I can make those branches longer, they might connect up with one of our unconnected profiles!
+21 votes
I will admit that Jackie Robinson has been a thorn in my side for quite awhile now, and I'm still working to get him connected. I return to him from time to time, and always find new family to add - but sadly no connection as of yet. I'll add a few more here and there throughout the month of February and hope that the several hundred profiles connected to him will someday be connected to the global tree.

And my latest "cousin" to him recently added:

(which is somewhat amusing, as his step-father was a "Robinson" - very likely to be no relation, though)
by Scott Fulkerson G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
And just to copy it to this thread - here's the latest one I've added to his tree:
I found out that Delanor was Jackie's sister-in-law, and the 5th wife of his brother Matthew. You will want to check out Matthew's first wife Grace because she also married a James BROOKS and you mentioned that name here in your message above, so maybe there is another link for you.

Thanks! I did take a look at Delanor and their 4 children in the photo and couldn't find anything myself that you had not already found. Good sleuthing! Since Mack and Delanor/Delanowere likely California born or transplants, I doubt they had anything to do with James Philen Brooks, as he was Alabama born, lived there all his life, and was buried there. So it's more likely it was another James Brooks. I'll still take another look at it, as anything is possible.

I've run into a lot of dead ends with much of his family due to sloppy records - I'm finding a number of years where people seem to vanish on the census only to reappear a decade later and I'm missing nearly 20 years of information as a result. It makes for difficult consistency.

As far as Edney Sims is concerned, if you're fairly confident of a married name, I'd go with it and just make a notation in the biography in case someone follows behind and brings new information to the table. I've had a number of records that I originally noted as "maybe" and added them as "potential" only to discover later that I was right and gone back later and marked them as confirmed.

Note that I did find this record that I'm adding to her profile:

"United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch( : 12 April 2016), Edney Simes in household of Henry Simes, Georgia, United States; citing p. 2, family 7, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 545,645.

It appears to be her - and references her parents and siblings. It might unlock something in her family you're looking for.

Nevermind - I see you laid out that Census info - just didn't have a link. Sounds like you're already on that track. :)
One potentially "interesting" thing from that Census - and it's an assumption too far for me to confirm - but the eldest person in that household - Rose Lasiter (probably Lassiter?) - born 1806 in Georgia - possibly a grandmother? If so, possibly her mother's maiden name? Not enough information to go on, but the age is right and I'd bet that she's related somehow.
And based on your information I did update the children's LNAB. :)
I ran into a dead end with SIMS, so now I am working on James Philen Brooks-12517 because there are some open pathways. Can you please share info about why you think his mother Elizabeth Charley-67 married a BROOKS ?
I have not been able to see any links for Elizabeth's first marriage to a BROOKS.

Re: Elizabeth Charley-67 second marriage by 1910 to Lorenza "Low" Robinson-25805 ... His death record named his parents as Lorenza Robinson and Sarah Matthews, who I haven't been able to trace. However, one interesting point I found, is that this Lorenza is always listed as black, but on the 1880 census, he is living with his brother Miles, who is listed as mulatto.

Also please review the info for James Philen Brooks-12517 born 1897. On the 1900 census, he is 1 of 4 grandchildren living in the household of thier grandfather Gabriel Charley-74. His mother Elizabeth Charley-67 claims that all 3 of her children are living and they are in the same household ... under her maiden surname CHARLEY. But the 4th grandchild is called James FILEN. This infers that he is a child of Elizabeth's sister ... perhaps who died in childbirth and Elizabeth has taken James in ?

Also because of this 1900 census, it appears that McKinley Robinson-25806 is also not a son of Lorenza Robinson-25805 ... soI don't think the male descendants of Mckinley will match the Y-DNA of his siblings.

Scott, you will be interested to see a HATCHER database I found and cited on

Also I found a small family tree of only 14 people on by the great-grandson of James Philen Brooks (aka Robinson). I sent a message with no response. But then I found that he has unfortunately just passed away last October 2017. He was only in his 30s. [ Obituary]
On an incredibly positive note - and it wasn't me - but Jackie Robinson is now connected.

Awesome!!! :D
+17 votes
I would like to work on Jesse Owens, as part of my work with Olympians.  However, I cannot make any edits right now because he is project protected.
by Kristin Merritt G2G6 Mach 1 (16.6k points)
I just added both of his parents so you should be able to work with them, adding their parents, Jesse's siblings, etc.

From a preliminary glance it looks like Jesse's mother Mary Emma went by both her father's name Fitzgerald and her mother's name Alexander.  I went with Fitzgerald for her LNAB, let me know if it needs to be changed.
Being project protected just is so that someone takes care to discuss any major changes or controversial changes are discussed with the project.  He would also fall under the purview of the African-American Project and changes can be discussed here no problem.
According to

3. It protects the parents. You need to be a manager of the profile, or a Project Coordinator or Leader to edit the parents of a PPP.

Since Jesse didn't have parents, I'm not sure if that meant no one but coordinator, Leader, or manager was allowed to add them, so I went ahead and did it.  But in any case, everyone should feel free to edit the profiles (especially biographies) and discuss any major changes here.  If you're having trouble connecting family members because of PPP, contact me or Lucy and we'll sort it out :)
Thanks for going ahead and adding the parents for me!  I am trying to get more information on them currently.  Hoping that maybe I can make a connection to the big tree!
It has not been easy so far to find the true parents for Jesse's mother, Mary Emma Fitzgerald/Alexander.  The 1880 census shows Emma as a cousin to Philip Fitzgerald.  She is listed as Emma Alexander and right above her is Winnie Alexander.  On Emma's death certificate, it lists her parents as Philip Fitzgerald and Winnie Alexander.  Philip is married to Parthena at the time of the 1880 census, so Winnie Alexander is not his wife.  Maybe Philip became her adopted father? Maybe Emma was born out of wedlock to Winnie Alexander?  Based on this information and the fact that the 1880 census is the first record for Emma, I believe the last name at birth should be changed to Alexander and Fitzgerald appears to have been used later.  What do you all think?
I agree with you, Kristin, and I went ahead and made the change.
+14 votes
I'd be interested in being involved in this project. Not sure what it means to be a project leader or coordinator.

Is there someplace where I can read up on these roles? Or could you share the info you have?

by Yvonne Gammell G2G6 (8.3k points)
Here's the page for Project Coordinators:

Right now we're a small project, but as we grow in membership we will need a second project coordinator chosen from among our members to help with the tasks listed on the page.

Project Leaders are usually WikiTree Leaders, which you can read about here:
+13 votes

The answer to connecting Langston Hughes may lie with his uncle John Mercer Langston. He was an Oberlin College graduate and married another Oberlin graduate, Caroline Matilda Wall, the daughter of Colonel Stephen Wall, a white planter, and his slave Priscilla (Prissy) Ely. This Colonel Wall had a bunch of other children with at least three of his slaves, whom he freed and endowed with a stipend of $1,000.00 each. In addition, John Mercer had a son and at least two grandsons who also attended Oberlin. I'll see what I can come up with with those college records.

by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (545k points)
I hope this all pans out.
Langston Hughes is currently connected to the tree via Ralph Quarles:

The Asante list was updated a few hours ago to reflect that he is indeed connected :)
+12 votes

I started working on Mary (Church) Terrell.

I found that her father was also notable.  Her father was born a slave and was owned by his biological father, Charles B. Church.  Then I hit the wall and can't find any birth or other records for Charles.  I haven't given up of course.

by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (544k points)
I found a connection, I just have to be sure the sources pan out.
Way to go, Lucy!
I think she is connected, but I also found that I ran into my own family.  But it is a line that is not in my personal tree.  I also connected her differently than I planned, so I think there may be three connections.
+15 votes

This is awesome! My February is booked!

I connected Katherine Dunham.

by Karen Lowe G2G6 Pilot (141k points)

Also connected Ira Francis Aldridge.

Wow, Karen!  Great job!

Also Guion Bluford. I phoned his second cousin André Vann at NCCU yesterday. :)

Karen, I'll bet cousin André was surprised when you called!
Ha! If he was it didn't show. Mr. Vann is such a knowledgeable and friendly historian and genealogist. I hope he'll decide to join us!
Woo go Karen! :D
+11 votes

These profiles are not connected - feel free to add your research and make the connections.

Dorothy Height:  Added one source to her profile and created profiles for her parents and her only sibling.  She is not connected, but it's a start.

Gwendolyn Brooks:  Added a few sources to her profile and created profiles for her parents. She is not connected, but at least she is connected to parents.

Edward Brooke:  Added several sources to his profile and the profiles of his parents, and created profiles for his first wife and his paternal grandparents.

by Star Kline G2G6 Pilot (547k points)
edited by Star Kline
I wonder if Dorothy Height will prove to be related to Mary Terrell Church?  I cam across a similar surname so far - Haight.
If you can find a connection, go for it!  I'm just trying to get a few started so they're not lonely profiles connected to nobody.
+12 votes

I just connected Arna Bontemps via his father's second wife's sister's husband (phew!) Benjamin Francis Baham  :D 

Don't give up, you never know where that connection will pop up!

by Sarah Heiney G2G6 Mach 4 (43.4k points)
I don't even know what you just said. But That's Great.
+11 votes

Oh my goodness I'm freaking out haha.  I was about to give up trying to connect Senator Edward Brooke when I suddenly got it...his sister's husband's mother's sister's husband Wesley Syphax-2 was the great-grandson of George Washington Parke Custis aka Martha Washington's grandson, which means not only is Edward Brooke now connected but he's closely connected to our featured profile of the week George Washington! :D

by Sarah Heiney G2G6 Mach 4 (43.4k points)
+10 votes
I've marked Gwendolyn Brooks as connected but it's pending a merge, so I'll keep an eye on it (Leath-99 is her aunt's husband's father)
by Sarah Heiney G2G6 Mach 4 (43.4k points)
+8 votes
Ugh!  I'm working on Walter White and can't find the connection.  I'm trying to stick to one avenue, but I need PROOF!  They say he is descended from President Harrison, but where's the PROOF?  He's supposed to only be 1/64th black, but I still need what?  PROOF!  Okay, I feel a little better.  I read his autobiography, very interesting, but he did not state how he is connected to the global tree.  I would have taken his word for it, really!
by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (544k points)
+11 votes
I think I'm related to Harriet Tubman and Barack Obama, so I'm going to try to help.
by Anonymous Vaughan G2G6 Mach 2 (22.7k points)

Somebody has connected Harriet Tubman, so now we're all related to her! That puts this challenge in tenth place in terms of percent complete, at 38.9%, and in last place in terms of people still to connect, at 55. (It is at a disadvantage that way, since it has a much longer list of people to connect than most challenges.)

+10 votes
Romare Bearden and Ralph Bunche are now connected.
by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (450k points)

Also Countee Cullen, W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry Highland Garnet, and Kwame Ture.

+9 votes

I added a mother-in-law for Alexander Twilight, who was one of Vermont's early black leaders.  He was the first person of color to graduate from Middlebury College, and was an educator in Vermont.  His wife's mother was one of those people who had only wrong surnames on all those ancestry trees. One of them was Mary Conant, and as I have worked on my own Conant lines, I thought I could flesh that out.  Well, she wasn't a Conant.  The last name was McLellan, which then was spelled M'Lellan.  I was able to use her husband's RW pension file to find some facts for her.

by Carolyn Adams G2G6 Mach 7 (75.4k points)
edited by Carolyn Adams
It seems like it was pretty common to spell Mc/Mac names with an apostrophe around the time of the Revolutionary War and earlier. I've seen records of my own family where the name was spelled M'Fater and M'Fatter, for instance. I think it was common shorthand of the day, like how they wrote John as Jno.
+6 votes

Well, much to my surprise, I managed to connect John Hope Franklin to the main tree with hardly any effort. That leaves this challenge in 9th place in terms of percent complete at 33.7%. (But making three more connections would push it up to 7th place if there isn't any progress in Rhode Island or Yukon.) In terms of people still to connect, it's still in last place, but of course that's because the list was so much longer to begin with. 

by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (450k points)
+7 votes
While he is still living, Bill Cosby has been connected as he is a remote cousin of Jackie Robinson (pretty far remote, but still), so Bill and Jackie are connected fairly closely.
by Scott Fulkerson G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
edited by Scott Fulkerson
+7 votes

For those who aren't into connecting, but do want to see the list of Great African-Americans on the Relationship Finder Quick Links page be longer than it is, here is the subset of people from the list who are deceased and connected, but have no great-grandparents listed on WikiTree:

So if anybody can find great-grandparents for any of these people, we could add them to the list of Great African-Americans on the Relationship Finder Quick Links page, too.

by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (450k points)
edited by Greg Slade
+10 votes

Will be working on Sarah Breedlove Walker and have also begun on one of her CEO's, Violet Davis Reynolds. 

by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (842k points)
So glad to see Sarah getting worked on. I was tempted to do it myself. Thanks so much!
+5 votes

Charles Richard Drew is now connected. (Not by me.)

by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (450k points)

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