Illustrious Phillipsites

They“Entered, Learned, and Served!”

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Timuel Dixon Black, Jr.

Timuel Black was born Timuel Dixon Black, Jr., in Birmingham, Alabama on December 7, 1918, but was raised in Chicago, Illinois.  In 1935 he graduated from the New Wendell Phillips High School now called DuSable High School.  He is a revered and highly respected African American, educator, political activist, community leader, oral historian, author, and philosopher.  He worked with activist Paul Robeson in the ’60s and was heavily involved in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Chicago Freedom Movement.  He has assembled a two-part oral history, titled Bridges of Memory, in which he interviews hundreds of African Americans, who like his family, settled on the South Side.  He published his autobiography, Sacred Ground, a title that refers not to religion but the spirituality he gained growing up in Chicago.  He also coined the popular term “plantation politics.”  He was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1979.

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Bishop Arthur Brazier

Bishop Arthur Brazier was born Arthur Monroe Brazier in Chicago, Illinois on July 22, 1921, and died October 22, 2010. He attended Wendell Phillips High School but dropped out after a year of attendance to begin working.  He was an African American bishop, prominent civic leader, author, real estate developer and founder of The Woodlawn Organization.  Reverend Brazier served as pastor of the Universal Church of Christ, before merging with Apostolic Church of God (ACOG). He was pastor emeritus of ACOG in Chicago, Illinois.  He was influential in Chicago's civil rights movement in the 1960s.  In addition to his church activities, Bishop Brazier enjoyed a career as a teacher and lecturer and authored Black Self-Determination, Saved By Grace and Grace Alone, and From Milk to Meat.  He was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1979.

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Judge Archibald Carey, Jr.

Judge Archibald Carey, Jr., was born Archibald James Carey, Jr., in Chicago, Illinois on February 29, 1908, and died April 20, 1981.  He graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1926.  He was a lawyer, judge, politician, activist, orator, speechwriter, clergyman, and the first African American delegate to the United Nations.  He was chosen to give a speech to the 1952 Republican National Convention, which met that year in Chicago and called for equal rights for all minorities.  His speech ended with "the famous crescendo" that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would echo eleven years later in his "I Have A Dream" speech.  Dennis Dickerson, a Vanderbilt University historian, states, "You have to understand the black church's oral traditions; it was customary for one preacher to say to another, 'I'm using that'" if he heard something he liked.  He was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1979.

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Nat “King” Cole

Nat “King” Cole was born Nathaniel Adams Coles in Montgomery, Alabama on March 17, 1919 and died February 15, 1965.  He attended Wendell Phillips High School but dropped out when he was 15 years old to pursue a music career.  He was an American jazz pianist and vocalist recording over one hundred songs that became hits on the pop charts.  He is best known for his soft baritone voice and for singles like "The Christmas Song," "Mona Lisa" and "Nature Boy."  His King Cole Trio was the model for small jazz ensembles that followed. Cole also acted in films and on television and performed on Broadway.  In 1956 he was the first African American to host a variety television series.  He was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1979.

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Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke was born Samuel Cook in Clarksdale, Mississippi on January 22, 1931, and died December 11, 1964.  He graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1948.  He was a singer, songwriter, civil-rights activist and entrepreneur.  He is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocals and importance within popular music.  He began singing as a child and joined the Soul Stirrers, a gospel group, before moving to a solo pop career where he scored a string of hit songs like "You Send Me," "A Change Is Gonna Come," "Wonderful World," "Chain Gang," "Twistin' the Night Away," and "Bring it on Home to Me."  He established his own publishing company for his music in 1959.  He negotiated an impressive contract with RCA in 1960 and secured a substantial advance, along with ownership of his master recordings after 30 years.  In 1961, Cooke started his own record label, SAR Records, with J. W. Alexander and his manager, Roy Crain.  He was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1979.

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Marla Gibbs

Marla Gibbs was born Margaret Theresa Bradley in Chicago, Illinois on June 14, 1931.  She graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1949.  She is an African American actress, comedian, singer, writer, and television producer.  She is known for her role as Florence Johnston in the sitcom "The Jeffersons" (1975-85).  Daughter Angela Elayne Gibbs produced an award-winning play by Christine Houston entitled "227," with Marla as the lead, at Marla's own local Crossroads Theatre, which the actress founded in 1981. The play was a solid hit and she wisely purchased the TV rights.  In 1985, she co-wrote with Ray Colcord the theme song for the “227” sitcom series in which she portrayed Mary Jenkins for five years.  Marla owned a jazz club in South Central Los Angeles called "Marla's Memory Lane,” a jazz and supper club that ran from 1981 to 1999.  She released her own music CD, "It's Never Too Late," in May 2006. She was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1979.

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Terry G. Hillard

Terry G. Hillard was born Terry Gleen Drew in South Fulton, Tennessee on August 11, 1943. He graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1961. He was the first African American Police Superintendent for the City of Chicago. He joined the Marines in 1963, served in Vietnam, returned to Chicago in 1968 and entered the Chicago Police Training Academy.  He became the first Black chief of detectives in 1995 and held that position until 1998 when he was appointed to the position of Police Ssuperintendent for the City of Chicago.  He served for five and a half years before retiring.  In 2005, he contributed to the book Chicago Police: An Inside View – The Story of Superintendent Terry G. Hillard, written about his leadership in the Chicago Police Department. He was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1996.

George E. Johnson

George Ellis Johnson Sr. was born in Richton, Mississippi on June 12, 1927.  He attended the New Wendell Phillips High School for three years before quitting to work full-time.  .  He was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1979.  In 1954 he borrowed $250 from a bank and another $250 from a friend to finance Johnson Products.  In 1964, Johnson founded Independence Bank and during the 1960s he became the exclusive sponsor behind the nationally syndicated dance show Soul Train.  In 1971, Johnson Products became the first African-American owned company to be listed on the American Stock Exchange.  That same year, Johnson became the first African-American to serve on the board of directors of Commonwealth Edison. 

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John H. Johnson

John H. Johnson was born John Harold Johnson in Arkansas City, Arkansas on January 19, 1918, and died August 8, 2005.  He graduated from the New Wendell Phillips High School now called DuSable High School in 1935.  He was a businessman and publisher. Johnson was the founder of the Johnson Publishing Company which was headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.  His mother allowed him to use her furniture as collateral for a $500 loan.  He used this loan to publish the first edition of "Negro Digest" in 1942.  Johnson's "Ebony" (1945)  and "Jet" (1951–2014) magazines were among the most influential African American publications in media beginning in the second half of the twentieth century.  In 1982, Johnson became the first African American to appear on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans.  In 1987, Johnson was named Black Enterprise Entrepreneur of the Year. He was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1979.

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Annie Lee

Annie Lee was born Annie Frances Lee in Gadsden, Alabama on March 3, 1935, and died November 24, 2014.  She graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1953. She was a renowned African American artist.  She is known for her depiction of African American everyday life.  Her work is characterized by images without facial features, and she used body language to show emotion and expression in her work.  Her most popular paintings are "Blue Monday" and "My Cup Runneth Over."  She donated her time and artwork to help the Tom Joyner Foundation raise money to support students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Her "Higher Education: A Way to Soar" painting celebrates the successes of the students at these colleges.  When several of her paintings appeared on the sets of popular television shows such as "The Cosby Show" and "A Different World," the exposure helped popularize her work.  She was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1987.

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Attorney James D. Montgomery, Sr. 

Attorney James D. Montgomery, Sr., was born James Douglas Montgomery in Louise, Mississippi on February 17, 1932.  He graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1949.  He is a prominent African American attorney in Chicago.  His commitment to civil rights and his community led him to establish his own firm, James D. Montgomery & Associates, Ltd., where he became involved in several landmark civil rights cases including Hampton v. Hanrahan, a case where the Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton, and Rockford Black Panther leader, Mark Clark, were murdered during a Chicago police raid.  In 1983 he became the first African American Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago.  He was appointed by Mayor Harold Washington.  He is a skilled litigator renowned for his handling of civil rights cases, as well as criminal, personal injury and medical malpractice cases.  In 2018 his book, Full Circle: Race, Law, and Justice co-authored with Walter M. Perkins and Michelle Thompson, was released and published by the distinguished Third World Press Foundation.  He was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1979.

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Roebuck "Pops" Staples

Roebuck “Pops” Staples was born Roebuck Staples in Winona, Mississippi on December 28, 1914, and died December 19, 2000.  He was an African American gospel and R&B singer/musician and founder of the Staples Singers.  He attended Wendell Phillips High School night school.  Wanting to instill the importance of education in his children (Cleotha, Mavis and Pervis), he attended night school and did not form the Staples Singers until Mavis graduated from high school in 1948.  The Staples Singers began recording in 1953 and had their first success with the 1957 release "Uncloudy Day."  As the group perfected a distinctive sound based on vocal harmonies and Pops Staples' guitar, they became known as "The First Family of Gospel."  As the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum, the Staples family became good friends with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and expanded their repertoire to include songs that reflected social change and their commitment to the struggle.  After Dr. King's assassination, they released a memorable song, "A Long Walk to D.C."  The group had its biggest commercial success in the 1970s with "Respect Yourself" (1971), "I'll Take You There" (1974), and "Let's Do It Again" (1976).  In the 1980s, rather than retiring, Pops Staples began a solo career.  His second solo album, "Father Father," won a Grammy Award in 1994.  He said, "I don't consider myself a blues singer, I try to carry a message of good news to everybody.  I'm not a bluesman. I'm a message-man."  He was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1992.

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Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington was born Ruth Lee Jones in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on August 29, 1924, and died December 14, 1963.  She attended Wendell Phillips High School but dropped out when she joined the Sallie Martin Gospel Singers in 1939.  She was a renowned jazz singer.  Her involvement with the St. Luke's Baptist Church gospel choir occurred after she won an amateur talent contest at Chicago's Regal Theater where she sang "I Can't Face the Music."  She was a singer and pianist who has been cited as "the most popular black female recording artist of the '50s."  She was primarily a jazz vocalist but performed and recorded in a wide variety of styles including blues, R&B, and traditional pop music.  In 1959, she made a sudden breakthrough into the mainstream pop market with "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes."  She was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.  She was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1979.

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Claude "Buddy" Young

Claude “Buddy” Young was born Claude Henry K. Young in Chicago, Illinois on January 5, 1926 and died September 5, 1983.  He graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1944.  He was an African American football legend.  When his Englewood High School coach refused to let him play because he was too small, he switched to rival Wendell Phillips High School and returned to score four touchdowns against his old school.  The 5'4" Young, also known as the "Bronze Bullet," had exceptional quickness and acceleration.  He won the National Collegiate Championships in the 100 and 220-yard dash, tied the world record for the 45 and 60-yard dashes, and was the Amateur Athletic Union's 100-meter champion.  He was the shortest man ever to play in the National Football League (NFL).  In the NFL he played for the Dallas Texans and Baltimore Colts.  He totaled 9,419 yards and scored 44 touchdowns in nine professional seasons.  He worked for the Baltimore Colts until 1964.  NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle hired him as an Assistant Commissioner to become the first African American executive of a major sports league.  He was inducted into the Wendell Phillips Hall of Fame in 1979.