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Karen Backstein

dancer and arts administrator, was born in New York City, the daughter of Julius J. Adams, a journalist who rose to managing editor of the New York Amsterdam News, and Olive A. Adams, an accomplished pianist. Her parents cultivated in her a deep appreciation of the arts, as well as a legacy of social activism that stayed with Adams throughout her life—both during her career as a dancer and after her retirement from the stage, when she helped found community-based arts centers for children in Harlem. The dance writer Muriel Topaz described the Adamses' home as a “center of social and political activity,” and noted that the Global News Syndicate, an organization of black newspapers, was founded in their small apartment (Topaz, 30).

When she was eight years old Adams entered New York s progressive Ethical Culture School an institution dedicated to the moral as well ...

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Jeffrey Green

Manager of a hostel for Africans in London in the 1920s and wife of Dr John Alcindor. Born in London of a French father, raised by her mother's family, she trained as a journalist. She was disowned by her family after her marriage in 1911 to John Alcindor, a Trinidadian.

While raising their three children, John (1912), Cyril (1914), and Roland (Bob, 1917), Alcindor also assisted her husband in his west London medical practice, often dealing with patients herself when the Harrow Road surgery was closed.

Along with her husband, Alcindor was active in the Pan‐Africanist movement (see Pan‐Africanism), and during the early 1920s was one of only two white women to serve on the committee of the London‐based African Progress Union, over which her husband presided from 1921.

Her husband's death in 1924 left the ...

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Charles Rosenberg

college president, activist for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). Born Mary Rice in Harrisonburg, Virginia, she was the acknowledged daughter of confederate general John R. Jones and Malinda Rice, who was hired as a servant in his household at the age of seventeen in 1873. There appears to have been some enduring affection between Jones and Rice. He acknowledged paternity of Mary and her brother William, and his first wife, Sarah, ill and often confined to bed, asked to see the children and gave them presents. Mary Rice was raised in part by John Rice, Malinda's brother, and his wife Dolly. She also spent time in Jones's household, and after Sarah Jones died in 1879 the general bought a house for Malinda and her children The immediate neighborhood was racially mixed ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

grande dame of Austin's African American community and cultural doyenne, was born Ada Collins on a family farm in Travis County, Texas, the fourth of nine children of Walter Collins and Cecilia Rucker Collins. She was a fifth-generation Texan, descended from two prominent African American families.

Anderson's middle-class immediate and extended family included African and African American slaves, white slaveholders, midwives, and Buffalo soldiers. One of her great-grandfathers was David Rucker, who was born a slave in Tennessee and freed when he was ten. Her other great-grandfather, Newton Isaac Collins, was born to a slave mother and an Irish slaveholder in Alabama but purchased his freedom only to be reenslaved in Texas when he arrived there in the 1820s.

Anderson inherited a rich legacy from her ancestors of defying odds and fighting for freedom She graduated from L C Anderson High School when it was still segregated ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

activist, lawyer, and the first woman of color to be admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court (active in women's clubs and the Chicago Urban League), was born Violette Neatley in London, England, to Marie Jordi Neatley, a thirty-two-year-old German-Swiss woman, and Richard E. Neatley (sometimes spelled Neatly), a thirty-four-year-old Jamaican of African descent. She moved with her parents to America in 1885, settling in Chicago, where her father worked as a day laborer. Violette Neatley graduated from North Division High School in 1899, leaving her parents' apartment on Wells Street in North Town to marry Amos Preston Blackwell. They remained in North Town, at 473 Park Avenue. Her husband worked as a valet and in 1900 informed the census which recorded him as black that he was born in Canada as were his parents However a divorced man of the same name ...

Article

Vickey Kalambakal

Susan Brownell Anthony was born in Adams, Massachusetts, to an unusual family. Her father was a Quaker; at the religious meetings she attended as a child, women were allowed to speak and were on an equal footing with men. The family was prosperous, and her parents encouraged freethinking and activism in their children. Anthony became an abolitionist and participant in the Underground Railroad. She is best remembered as one of the leaders and organizers of the women's suffrage movement.

Anthony's family moved from Massachusetts to Rochester, New York, in 1845. Over the next few years, the abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass also a resident of Rochester became a frequent visitor and speaker at Sunday meetings at the Anthony farm where abolition was discussed Like many reform minded people of the day Anthony also joined the local temperance society After being denied the chance to speak at ...

Article

Matthew Kustenbauder

a Luo woman, helped to found and lead two African-initiated churches. The third of four children, Aoko was born in July 1943 in the town of Awasi, nineteen miles east of Kisumu in Nyanza Province, Kenya. Her educational background is uncertain. In interviews she called herself “uneducated” and claimed to know neither Kiswahili nor English, suggesting that she did not attend school beyond the primary level. Young Aoko was winsome by all accounts—“photogenic,” “tall with a smooth blackness,” and a “beautiful well-proportioned face” (Dirven, 1970, p. 126).

Against Aoko’s wishes not to marry, in 1957 her conservative father arranged a marriage to Simeo Owiti, a Catholic friend from Njoro near Nakuru. Three years later, the couple relocated south of the Kenya border to Bugire in the North Mara district of Tanganyika. Here, Aoko attended Tatwe a Catholic mission run by the Maryknoll fathers where she learned the catechism ...

Article

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Ottilie Assing was the eldest daughter of David and Rosa Maria (Varnhagen) Assing. Her mother was an energetic teacher with a flair for singing and storytelling; her father was a well-known doctor who penned poetry and was prone to depression. David, born with the surname of Assur, was raised as an Orthodox Jew but associated with Christians. He and Rosa, who was not Jewish, raised Ottilie and her younger sister, Ludmilla, as "freethinking atheists, as true daughters of the Enlightenment, who saw themselves as members of a universal human race of thought and reason." They saw education as a "secular form of individual salvation."

Assing's life was not always easy; she witnessed savage anti-Jewish riots, and by the age of twenty-three she had lost both parents. In 1842 she and her sister moved from their hometown to live with an uncle Ludmilla adapted ...

Article

Kimala Price

women's health advocate, was born Byllye Yvonne Reddick in Waynesville, Georgia, the daughter of L. Alyce M. Ingram, a schoolteacher. The name and occupation of her father is unknown. Although Byllye was born in Georgia, her family eventually settled in Deland, Florida, a town of five thousand people near Daytona Beach. Her mother, a graduate of Bethune‐Cookman College, was a schoolteacher in nearby Perry, Florida. When Byllye was a teenager, her mother enrolled in a graduate program at New York University to earn a master's degree in education. Consequently, Avery's mother spent her summers in New York, away from her daughter, which was the only time in which she could take courses. Avery's father died during the last year of her mother's graduate studies.

Byllye attended Talladega College in Alabama and graduated in 1959 with a BA in Psychology. She soon married Wesley Avery whom she had met ...

Article

Ada Uzoamaka Azodo

Senegalese educator, novelist, and activist, was born into a well-to-do and ardently religious Lébou family, which had its own mosque in the family compound, bringing the neighborhood together for prayers several times a day. The Lébous, tall, regal, staunchly Muslim, and predominantly fishermen, are a subtribe of the Wolof ethnic group related to the Lébous of Saint-Louis (Ndar in Wolof) in the northern Sahel region of Senegal. They were the first inhabitants of the city of Dakar (Ndakarou in Wolof) in the Cape-Vert peninsula, composed of the villages of Ngor, Ouakam, and Yoff. Mariama’s father was Niélé Bâ, born in 1892. Her mother died when Mariama was two years old. Hence, she never got to know her nor did she ever see a photograph of her. Niélé Bâ fought as a tirailleur African infantry soldier on the French side in World War I becoming on his return to ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

Mariama Bâ, the daughter of Senegal’s first minister of health, was born into a highly educated Muslim family. Bâ’s father had a strong belief in the value of education and, ignoring traditional prohibitions, insisted that his daughter pursue higher education. Bâ attended a prestigious French boarding school near Dakar, passing the entrance examination with the highest marks of all candidates in West Africa that year.

While still a student Bâ began writing essays for local journals and newspapers Her writing revealed her as an articulate and political young woman one essay for example attacked assimilation a French policy encouraging Africans to adopt French identity and culture An active participant in women s organizations the young Bâ found her voice as a spokesperson for African women facing new troubles in the traditional institution of marriage Bâ would later confront these difficulties in her own life when as a ...

Article

Iris Berger

South African labor organizer and women’s movement leader, was born in the diamond-mining town of Kimberley, the fourth of six children. Her father Herman Maswabi had come from Bechuanaland (now Botswana) to work on the mines and was a steward in the local Methodist church; her mother, Sara Voss, also Tswana, came from Kimberley. When her father’s brother and sister-in-law died, Baard’s family took in their children, and her parents sent her to stay with her father’s sister in Ramotswa, a village not far from Gaborone, where she was confirmed in the local Lutheran church. After Baard, then around eight years old, suffered serious burns in a cooking fire, her mother brought her back to the family home in Beaconsfield, just outside of Kimberley. She attended a Methodist school, learning in both English and Tswana. Shortly after she returned, her mother passed away during the 1918 flu epidemic.

When Baard ...

Article

Baqi<ayn>e Bedawi Muhammad

Sudanese intellectual, educator, political leader, and women’s advocate, was born on 1 January 1932 in the city of El Obeid, Province of Kordofan, and raised by an Islamic family. Her grandfather, al-Shaykh Mohammed al-Badawi, was a prominent Islamic scholar, and his house in Omdurman was a gathering place for well-known Islamic scholars from North Africa, such as al-Shaykh Mohammed Abdu of Egypt. Al-Badawi’s father, al-Fatih Mohammed al-Badawi, was a district commissioner who replaced the position of the British officer after Sudan independence in 1956. Although girls’ formal education was boycotted by the masses for being based on Western values, he was an open-minded and progressive individual with liberal ideas regarding girls’ education. In this atmosphere al-Badawi and her two sisters were raised.

As a district commissioner al Badawi s father s moved and worked in different regions of Sudan This situation compelled al Badawi to receive her elementary intermediate ...

Article

Meghan Elisabeth Healy

liberal historian and politician active in South Africa, was born Violet Margaret Livingstone Hodgson on 11 January 1894 in Glasgow, Scotland. Her father, John Hodgson, emigrated to the Orange Free State, South Africa, shortly after Margaret’s birth, working as a merchant while Margaret’s mother, Lillias, raised their three young children in Scotland. After fighting against the British with the Irish Brigade in the Anglo-Boer War, John Hodgson went to the Atlantic island of Saint Helena as a prisoner of war. When war ended in 1902, officials repatriated him, but he was ostracized in his community. Six months after his return, he illegally boarded a ship bound for Port Elizabeth, where he worked as a bookkeeper. In 1904, John Hodgson’s family joined him in the Cape. He harbored liberal political beliefs, supporting legal equality and the extension of a nonracial franchise in southern Africa.

After attending the Holy Rosary ...

Article

Owen J. M. Kalinga

Malawi's first female president, and the second female head of state in postcolonial Africa, was born Joyce Mtila on 12 April 1950 in Ntogolo Village Traditional Authority Malemia Zomba District Ntogolo the site of the Domasi Church of Scotland Mission and from the early 1930s the home of the Jeanes Training College was one of the centers of education in colonial Malawi Her father Gray Mtila was in the colonial police service serving for a long time in Zomba town and her mother Edith was a homemaker and later a retail assistant in one of the Peoples Trading Center establishments Joyce Mtila attended primary schools in Zomba district and after completing high school at Providence Secondary School she trained in office management and worked for some years during which time she married Roy Kachale The union produced three children For part of the 1970s the Kachales lived in Nairobi ...

Article

Kathleen Sheldon

leading activist in the anticolonial movement in Guinea, was born in Bramaya-Ouassou. She went to Conakry in 1936, where she eventually joined the Foyer de la Basse Guinée, a mutual aid association for people from Lower Guinea. She worked as a tailor in Conakry before she was involved in a group that supported Sekou Touré during the nationalist struggles of the 1950s. She is remembered as the woman who approached Touré during the general strike of 1953 which was a key event in the Guinean nationalist struggle He asked her to help mobilize women to support the strike At a meeting of the strike committee where the women s wing was present for the first time Bangoura spoke for the women saying they would defend the men s activities and if the men were afraid the women were prepared to take their places at the front of the ...

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Byron Motley

was born in Los Angeles, California on 3 October 1953, the only daughter and youngest of four children born to Wilhelmina (née Duckett) and DeWitt Bass, a mail carrier. Bass became interested in community activism at an early age while watching the civil rights movement unfold nationally on television with her father and experiencing unrest in her own community. The 1968 presidential campaign of Senator Robert Kennedy sparked the future congresswoman’s first foray into the political scene when, as a middle school student, she served as a precinct leader for Kennedy in California’s Democratic primary.

After graduating from Hamilton High School on the west side of Los Angeles in 1971 Bass studied psychology at the University of San Diego for two years She worked as a clinical instructor at the University of Southern California s Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program for nearly a decade She eventually ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Burundian politician and diplomat, was born on 23 May 1956. Her parents belonged to a prominent Tutsi family. From 1979 to 1981, after she had completed her undergraduate studies, Batumubwira worked as a journalist for the newspaper La Voix de la Révolution du Burundi. She eventually received a master’s degree in communication. In 1981, she became a public relations administrator for the United Nations information center in Bujumbura, the Burundian capital. She held this position until 1995, even after the Burundian civil war commenced in the early 1990s. She married Jean-Marie Ngendahayo, a prominent politician in his own right, who served as Burundi’s foreign minister from 1993 to 1995 She joined the Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie Forces de défense de la démocratie CNDD FDD National Council for the Defense of Democracy Forces for the Defense of Democracy a rebel movement ...

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Darlene Clark Hine

organizer of black women and advocate for social justice, was born Mary Jane McLeod in Mayesville, South Carolina, the child of the former slaves Samuel McLeod and Patsy McIntosh, farmers. After attending a school operated by the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen, she entered Scotia Seminary (later Barber‐Scotia College) in Concord, North Carolina, in 1888 and graduated in May 1894. She spent the next year at Dwight Moody's evangelical Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Chicago, Illinois. In 1898 she married Albertus Bethune. They both taught briefly at Kindell Institute in Sumter, South Carolina. The marriage was not happy. They had one child and separated late in 1907. After teaching in a number of schools, Bethune founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Training Negro Girls in Daytona, Florida, in 1904 Twenty years later the school merged with a boys school the ...

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Elaine M. Smith

Long deemed the most influential black American woman, Bethune is, by scholarly consensus, one of the most important black Americans in history regardless of gender, alongside Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King Jr. Unflinchingly, she championed the democratic values that define the nation. She took personally the well-being of the body politic, particularly in the crisis of two world wars. President Franklin D. Roosevelt viewed Bethune as a great patriot devoted to advancing all Americans. Bethune’s accomplishments were so impressive in relationship to resources, and her interest in people, regardless of nationality and locality, was so genuine, that any freedom-loving country could feel proud to claim her as its own.