Elizabeth Gritter: Church Family Led Racial Advances
Elizabeth Gritter teaches U.S. history at Middle Tennessee State University, and her book-in-progress examines Robert R. Church Jr. and black political mobilization in Memphis. She also is working on a documentary film, titled “River of Hope,” on this topic.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Robert R. Church Sr., reportedly America’s first black millionaire, and the national political start of his son Robert R. Church Jr., who became the country’s most prominent black Republican in the 1920s. These black Tennesseans, based in Memphis, made great strides for racial advancement.
Born in Mississippi to a white slaveholder and his Malay slave, Church Sr. worked as a steward on his father’s steamboats on the Mississippi River from Memphis to New Orleans. During the Battle of Memphis on June 6, 1862, a Federal fleet captured the steamboat Victoria, but Church escaped and stayed in Union-occupied Memphis.
After the war, Church Sr. opened a saloon along Beale Street. Along with the profits from his first wife, Louisa, who ran a hair salon, he amassed a business fortune that made him a millionaire....
comments powered by Disqus
- Decades After Trinity Nuclear Test in New Mexico, U.S. Studies Cancer Fallout
- Lawrence Of Arabia's Hand-Drawn, WWI Map Is Up for Auction
- Thousands Of FBI Documents About Civil Rights Era Destroyed By Flooding
- Ancient Egyptian Woman with 70 Hair Extensions Discovered
- Europeans drawn from three ancient 'tribes'
- Conservatives press the case against the new AP framework for US history
- Who wrote the new AP US History framework? Now we know.
- Pro-Israel groups going after federal support of Middle East Studies
- 100th Anniversary of Beard's 'An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution' commemorated
- University of Illinois Bigwig to Native American Studies scholar Jean O’Brien: Drop Dead