Biographies of eight men and four women who struggled against racial prejudice and other obstacles to distinguish themselves. The line-up includes Crispus Attucks, escaped slave and ""the first American to die in the cause of American Revolution,"" who ""had already declared his own independence""; Madam C. J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire in this country; Ronald McNair, an astronaut who died aboard the Challenger, and Eddie Robinson of Grambling State University, the winningest football coach, pro or collegiate, in history. As usual, Haskins writes in a clear, deliberate way, smoothly integrating biographical facts, lessons received from parents and grandparents, and the significance of his subjects' achievements. He doesn't gloss over their imperfections--Malcolm X's criminal record, Matthew Henson's Eskimo offspring--but does present these men and women as models of courage and dignity. Some (Ralph Bunche, Charles Drew, Marian Anderson, Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chisholm) should already be well represented in most biography collections, but Romare Bearden or Eddie Robinson may be less familiar. Haskins draws his information from printed sources and has appended a good, if largely adult-level, bibliography. A serviceable collection. Illustrations and index not seen.