Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of America’s past. These stories are about Americans—people just like you—who have made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around the site and find what inspires you.

African-American leaders have been vital to making America strong.

The Rosenwald Schools: Schools for African-Americans in the Rural South

Rosenwald SchoolsThe Rosenwald Schools  were built in the early 20th century as a solution to the scarcity of schools for African-Americans in the rural South at that time.  The school-building program was the idea of educator Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) who approached Julius Rosenwald, (1862-1932), the president of Sears, Roebuck and Company.  The result stimulated the building of over 5,000 schools, vocational workshops, and teachers’ homes in the South.
While Southern states discouraged teaching slaves to read, the conclusion of the Civil War brought with it sporadic efforts to educate black children. Missionaries arrived to establish schools, and later in the century some communities permitted African-American children to enroll in public schools.

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"What can one person do?"
Read some of the stories on this site; you'll see that they revolve around single individuals who worked toward change.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Oscar Micheaux
Oscar Micheaux (1884-1951) had no mentors and no background that prepared him for any of the challenges he undertook, but he successfully amassed land in the West at a time when few African-Americans were homesteading; he published his own novels, one… Continue reading »

better McAlpin
Eighteen months ago I profiled Harry McAlpin.  He was a reporter for the National Negro Press Association and the Atlanta Daily World covering Washington and the president, but because he was black, he was not permitted to attend the presidential press briefings. In the 1940s black editors and… Continue reading »

Valaida 1
Jazz performer and pioneer Louis Armstrong called her the “second best trumpet player” in the world; Armstrong placed himself first.  Valaida Snow was born into a show business family in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her mother taught Valaida and her siblings to perform, and from a young age, Valaida showed great… Continue reading »

color Moms Mabley
Moms was a first; no previous stand-up female comedian preceded Mabley First woman comedian to be featured at the Apollo Theater (1930s); she went on to appear there more times than any other performer. Oldest person to have a song on the Top 40 Billboard chart. Her… Continue reading »

Cotton Candy booth
Had a true photographer’s eye for capturing people doing everyday things; took more than 80,000 images during his career, mostly of daily life in Pittsburgh but also of presidents, celebrities, and civil rights leaders. Known as “One-Shot”Harris, he was skilled at making subjects feel comfortable and rarely… Continue reading »

Alice Coachman in action
World-class athlete specializing in the high jump First African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal (1948 in London); paved the way for other young women to follow their dreams She formed the Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation to support and encourage young athletes as well… Continue reading »

This Day in History

On December 22, 1956, a gorilla was born in captivity for the first time ever.  The place was the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, and Colo, as she was named by the zoo staff, weighed approximately 4 pounds.  She is a western lowland gorilla whose parents were brought from French Cameroon, Africa in 1951.  Colo was raised by zookeepers in a nursery as her mother rejected her. Since that time, zoos have been able to create better environments so that mother gorillas can raise their young. Colo is still alive today and is now a great-grandmother.

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