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.


James Reese Europe: Bandleader Who Popularized Jazz and Ragtime

James Reese Europe (1880-1919) was a gifted musician who James Reese Europeachieved numerous firsts in bringing African-American musicians and music into the mainstream.  As a conductor and composer, he is credited with bringing ragtime and jazz to European audiences. He enlisted in what was to become the 369th Regiment (Harlem Hellfighters) during World War I and was bandleader and also became an officer in charge one of the machine gun squads, making him the first African-American officer to command troops during wartime.

James Reese Europe’s Early Years

Europe was born in Mobile, Alabama. His father was a minster and an Internal Revenue Service employee who moved his family to Washington, D.C. in 1889 to accept a job with the Post Office.  Both parents and some of Europe’s siblings were musically talented, as was James Reese Europe, and Europe was admitted to a prestigious school for blacks in D.C.  There he studied violin, piano, and composition.

Continue reading…


"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


Matthew Henson
Matthew Henson (1866-1955) was hired by explorer Robert Peary (1856-1920) to be his valet; Peary saw in the young man the potential to be an asset on future expeditions. Henson proved his worth as Peary’s most skilled and reliable member of many expeditions, including numerous attempts to… Continue reading »

Dorothy Dandridge
Dorothy Dandridge (1922-1965) was a successful actress and singer. She started performing as a child in local variety shows, and then eventually made a career for herself in films. Her portrayal of the lead role in Carmen Jones brought her positive acclaim, including the honor of being … Continue reading »

Black America
Black America was the brainchild of Nate Salsbury (1846-1902), the man who was also behind the very successful, long-running Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. In 1894 Salsbury found Brooklyn’s Ambrose Park free for a time, since the Wild West Show had just decamped to a new city. Salsbury… Continue reading »

Major Taylor
Marshall “Major” Taylor (1878-1932) was a champion cyclist who set numerous world records and was the first African-American cyclist to become an international sports star. At the time Taylor raced, cycling was a relatively young sport, but its popularity grew quickly. Endurance races, long distance races, and sprints… Continue reading »

Marie Van Brittan Brown
Marie Van Brittan Brown and her husband, Albert, created an early closed-circuit television system to be used for home monitoring.  That security system was the forerunner of all advanced home security technology in use today.  How Marie Van Brittan Brown Became an Inventor Marie Van Brittan (1922-1999)… Continue reading »

Gordon Parks
Gordon Parks, best-remembered as a gifted photojournalist, was also an author, composer and film director, achieving remarkable success in each field. His journalistic platform in Life magazine permitted him to affect the world he covered—from gang life in Harlem to poverty in Brazil. Parks’ coverage of the Civil Rights… Continue reading »

This Day in History

On March 6, 1899 Frederick Bayer & Co. was granted a patent for Aspirin, the brand name for acetylsalicylic acid, now the most common drug found in household medicine cabinets. Bayer lost the patent on Aspirin during World War I. Eventually the company name and trademarks for the U.S. and Canada were purchased by Sterling Products (later Sterling Winthrop). By 1994 Bayer was an independent company again, and bought back the patent on aspirin and other OTC drugs.

site by: Deyo Designs
Copyright © 2011-2014 Kate Kelly, America Comes Alive | Site Map
Follow Kate >
Get every new post on America Comes Alive! delivered to your inbox.