1. Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley , was a West African slave turned slaveholder and plantation owner in early 19th century Florida. At 13 years old, she was captured and sent to Cuba where she was purchased by and married to Zephaniah Kingsley, a slave trader and plantation owner. They had four children together. Kingsley freed Anna in 1811 and gave her responsibilities for his plantations in East Florida. For 25 years, Kingsley’s unusual family lived on Fort George Island in modern-day Jacksonville, where Anna managed a large and successful planting operation. After gaining freedom, Anna was given a Spanish land grant for 5 acres (20,000 m2) and held 12 slaves. She later was awarded a land grant of 350 acres (1.4 km2) by the Spanish government.
After the United States took control of Florida and American discriminatory laws threatened the multi-racial Kingsley family, most of them moved to Haiti. Kingsley died soon after, and Anna returned to Florida to dispute her husband’s relatives’ contesting Kingsley’s will; they sought to exclude Anna and her children from their inheritance. The court honored a treaty between the United States and Spain, and Anna was successful in the court case, despite a political climate hostile toward blacks. She settled in the Arlington neighborhood of Jacksonville, where she died in 1870 at 77 years old. The National Park Service protects Kingsley Plantation, where Anna and Kingsley lived on Fort George Island, as part of theTimucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.
Tom Turpin was born in Savannah, Georgia, a son of John L. Turpin and Lulu Waters Turpin. In his early twenties he opened a saloon in St. Louis, Missouriwhich became a meeting-place for local pianists and an incubation point for early folk ragtime, such as musician Joe Jordan. Turpin himself is credited with the first published rag by an African-American, his “Harlem Rag” of 1897 (it was composed by 1892, a year before ragtime’s introduction to the world at the1893 Worlds Fair). His other published rags include “Bowery Buck,” “Ragtime Nightmare,” “St. Louis Rag,” and “The Buffalo Rag”.
Turpin was a large man, six feet (1.83 m) tall and 300 pounds (136 kg); his piano had to be raised on blocks so that he could play it standing up, otherwise his stomach would get in the way. In addition to his saloon-keeping duties and his ragtime composition, he controlled (with his brother Charles) a theater, gambling houses, dance halls, and sporting houses. He served as a deputy constable and was one of the first politically powerful African-Americans in St. Louis. His influence on local music earned him the title “Father of St. Louis Ragtime.”
3. Sara Martin, Blues Songstress (Up and Down/Jump Steady), one of the most popular of the classic blues singers. She was known as ‘The Famous Moanin’ Mama’. Sara Martin began her career as a vaudeville singer around 1915 in Illinois. In 1922 she was signed to a recording contract with Okeh Records by Clarence Williams. Williamswrote and played piano on a number of Martin’s early records. Sarah Martin was said to have excelled as a live performer and was a star on the TOBA circuit in the early 1920s. She had a deep, full-bodied voice that compared favorably with Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey but lacked the emotional punch of those two singers. She often sounded a bit wooden, like she was reading the lyrics on her records, although her diction was impeccable. She recorded four sides with Clarence Williams that included King Oliver on cornet in 1928.
“Death Sting Me Blues” from these sessions is one of her better records and shows Oliver to be a master of the Blues. While primarily a popular singer Martin could get low down on the blues and was billed as the “famous moanin’ mama” as well as “the colored Sophie Tucker” reflecting her dual roles as a Blues and vaudeville performer. See toured the country until the early 1930s and recorded with Okeh until 1928. In 1929 she appeared in the film “Hello, Bill” with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. The following year she appeared in the first all African-American sound film “Darktown Revue”. When the blues fad died out in the early 1930s Sarah retired from show business, but continued to sing gospel. She returned to her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky during the Depression where she ran a nursing home. Sara Martin also recorded under the names of Margaret Johnson and Sally Roberts.
Baskin worked as a journalist and reporter for the “Negro News” section of the Montgomery Adviser newspaper. Baskin was hired by Jet Magazine and the American Negro Press in 1955 to cover the bus boycott following the arrest of Rosa Parks.
Baskin was an active supporter of the bus boycott and the Civil Rights Movement. She is most famous for a photograph of her seated on a Montgomery bus in front of Martin Luther King Jr. following the desegregation of the city’s buses.
5. Don (Sugarcane) Harris, Singer, violinist and guitarist (Justine/Farmer John), Harris was born and raised in Pasadena, California and started an act called Don and Dewey with his childhood friend Dewey Terry in the mid 1950s. Although they were recorded by Art Rupe on his Specialty label, mostly utilizing the services of legendary drummer Earl Palmer, Don and Dewey didn’t have any hits. However, Harris and Terry co-authored such early rock and roll classics as “Farmer John”, “Justine”, “Leavin’ It All Up to you”, and “Big Boy Pete,” all of which became hits for other artists.
At some point in his career, Harris was given the nickname “Sugarcane” by LA bandleader Johnny Otis and it was to remain with him throughout his life.
6. Louis Clark “Lou” Brock, a former professional baseball player. He began his Major League Baseball career with the Chicago Cubs but, spent the majority of his career as the left fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. Brock was best known for breaking Ty Cobb’s all-time major league stolen base record. He is currently a special instructorcoach for the St. Louis Cardinals. Brock was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.
7. Bruce Smith, a former American football defensive end for the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. He was a member of the Buffalo Bills teams that played in four consecutive Super Bowls as AFC champions. The holder of the NFL career record for quarterback sacks, Smith was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, his first year of eligibility. While with the Washington Redskins he broke Reggie White’s record for sacks.
8. Nathan Morris, Rhythm and Blues Artist also known as Alex Vanderpool and a founding member of Boyz II Men. Morris sings baritone and soprano.
9. Vyshonn King Miller, better known by his stage name Silkk The Shocker (Formally Silkk), is a rapp artist from New Orleans, Louisiana. who records under the stage name Silkk The Shocker, is an American recording artist and actor. He originally went under the stage name “Silkk”, but later adopted “The Shocker” after his debut studio album in 1996 entitled, The Shocker. At the age of 15, he made his first appearance with his brother on the single “What’s Up With That”, which was on the debut album from Master P (Percy Robert Miller) entitled, Get Away Clean. He then began making numerous appearances on albums from TRU, which consisted of Silkk The Shocker, Master P, and C-Murder.