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Leigh Kimmel

politician and the first African American statewide elected officeholder in Illinois, was born in Centralia, Illinois, the son of Earl, a worker with the Illinois Central Railroad, and Emma Burris. His family also ran a store to supplement his father's railroad wages. Because both of his parents were busy during the day, when Burris was four years old he would often accompany his older siblings to school, where he would sit on the platform outside the door, listening to the class being conducted inside.

While he attended Centralia Township High School he was active in sports becoming an All State defensive safety in football in spite of being only five feet six inches inches tall He also became increasingly aware of racial discrimination in his community during high school and at sixteen he helped to integrate the Centralia public pool When the city unofficially designated the pool for whites only ...


Steven Leikin

diplomat, preacher, and author, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Sallie Montgomery. Nothing is known of his biological father. His mother, however, was an African American, and Dennis was of mixed race parentage. In 1897 he was adopted by Green Dennis, a contractor, and Cornelia Walker. During his youth Dennis was known as the “mulatto child evangelist,” and he preached to church congregations in the African American community of Atlanta before he was five years old. By the age of fifteen he had toured churches throughout the United States and England and addressed hundreds of thousands of people.

Despite his success as an evangelist Dennis had ambitions to move beyond this evangelical milieu. In 1913, unschooled but unquestionably bright, he applied to Phillips Exeter Academy and gained admission. He graduated within two years and in 1915 entered Harvard.

Dennis s decisions to ...


Maitseo Bolaane

, Botswana politician and businessman, was born 4 March 1942 to Gaolathe Dadanaye and Gasemotho Phathi Ndaba in the small village of Nkange, North-East District. Immediately after his birth, his father, a carpenter, moved his small family from Nkange to the neighboring and prosperous village of Tutume. It was here that young Baledzi Gaolathe lived his early years, often accompanying his father on his assignments and carpentry projects. His father died when he was still young. After his father’s death, Gaolathe’s mother moved the family to Selolwane village, within walking distance of Tutume, where the family stayed with a grandmother, Mmaduwe. Gaolathe did not stay long in Selolwane, as he was taken by a paternal aunt to Changate, where he learned the skills of growing crops and rearing livestock. The slow-paced life of livestock rearing in rural Botswana nurtured his lifelong love for nature and outdoor activities.

In 1952 ...


Ntewusu Aniegye

Ghanaian business leader, nationalist, and politician, was born on 17 June 1913 in Warri, Nigeria, to Emma Dey and Awummee Gbedema from Anyarko, in the present-day Volta region of Ghana. Gbedemah was the eldest son among six siblings. He received his elementary education from 1916–1927 in Keta in the Volta region, and Accra. In 1928 he sat for the Junior School Certificate Examination and passed, enabling him to attend Achimota School.

At Achimota, after failing to earn the required grade in the qualifying examination, Gbedemah could not obtain a scholarship to pursue his dream of a career in medicine. He did, however, gain employment as a part-time proofreader and editor of the Times, owned by J B Danquah a leading Gold Coast as present day Ghana was called during the colonial era nationalist and one of the founding members of the United Gold Coast Convention UGCC His work with ...


Maitseo Bolaane

government official and central banker in Botswana, was born in Cape Town on 23 December 1936. His father Henry Hodgson Hermans was the senior partner in a leading Cape Town law firm. His mother Marjorie Stanhope (nee Lamb) Hermans was a civil rights activist, prominent in the Black Sash organization, and in the Anglican Church. She also managed the family cattle ranch in the Bechuanaland Protectorate after the death of her father in 1945.

Hermans, nicknamed “Quill,” completed his matriculation in 1955 at Diocesan College, Rondebosch, South Africa. He holds an MA in geography (1959) from Oxford University (Trinity College), a diploma in economics, social, and industrial development from University of Pittsburgh (1960), an MA in African studies (1961) from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and an MA in development economics from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee (1967).

Before taking ...


Alexandre Hatungimana

prime minister of Burundi from June 1993 to February 1994, was born Sylvie Ntigashira in Mugoyi in the province of Bujumbura on 24 November 1953. After primary and secondary studies with the sisters of the Ijenda parish, she attended the University of Burundi (Faculty of Economic Sciences), from which she graduated in 1979 with a degree directed toward banking credit. In 1990 she obtained a Diplôme d’études supérieures (DES) in banking and finance at the Centre International de Formation de la Profession Bancaire in Paris. The same year, on returning to her country, she was hired at the Banque Centrale BRB (Banque de la République de Burundi) where she directed the department of research and statistics (1990–1991), the focal point of the IMF and the World Bank in Burundi. From 1991 to 1993 she maintained the Programme d’Ajustement Structurel (PAS) attached to the prime ministry. In 1973 ...


Travis Boyce and Winsome Chunnu-Brayda

civil-rights activist, soldier, commercial banker, and stock broker, was born Joseph Alfred McNeil on 25 March 1942 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Even prior to entering college, civil-rights activism was not new to McNeil. As a youth in Wilmington, he participated in a boycott of Pepsi-Cola for discriminatory hiring practices. By attending a segregated school, McNeil was shielded from the hostility that one would otherwise experience at an integrated school. His teachers constantly emphasized to him and his classmates that they are entitled to the same rights and opportunities as their white counterparts.

McNeil graduated from Wilmington's Williston High School in 1959 and that fall entered North Carolina Agriculture and Technical College in Greensboro on an alumni association scholarship. An engineering-physics major, McNeil was also a cadet in the Air Force ROTC program. During his freshman year, McNeil befriended Franklin McCain, David Richmond, and Ezell Blair (later Jibreel Khazan ...


Cyril Daddieh

an economist and international banker-turned-politician in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), was born in Dimbokro on 1 January 1942. This birthplace and his subsequent claim to Ivoirian nationality is highly contested in Abidjan, the Ivoirian commercial capital. He attended secondary school in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and then proceeded to the University of Pennsylvania on a Fulbright scholarship as a national of Burkina Faso. He received his bachelor’s degree (BA) in mathematics, followed by an MA and a PhD in economics, awarded in 1967 and 1972. respectively.

“ADO,” as Ouattara is popularly known to his supporters, has had an illustrious career in international banking and finance spanning nearly four decades. He first joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 1968 as chief economist Ouattara left five years later to join the Central Bank of West African States BCEAO as head of mission in Paris where he ...


Agnes Leslie

the first woman to become a paramount chief in Botswana, was born in 1950, the first child of Paramount Chief Kgosi Mokgosi III. “Mosadi,” which translates as “woman” in Setswana, was born in Ramotswa, a village about twenty miles (32 kilometers) south of the capital city, Gaborone. Ramotswa is also the capital of the Balete or Bamalete, ethnic group. She had seven sisters and one brother. Her father died in 1966, and after that a paternal uncle served as a regent for her brother, who was nine years her junior. Seboko attended Moedin College in Otse Village, south of Gaborone, and obtained the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate in 1969. She started working as soon as she finished high school in order to help her mother with her siblings when her father died. She pursued a career in banking for twenty-four years, joining Barclays Bank in 1971 ...


Owen J. M. Kalinga

one of the most powerful and feared politicians during the thirty years of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda's dominance of Malawi, was born on 4 September 1932 in Dedza District in the present-day Central Region of Malawi. His father, Zenas Tembo, originally from Mzimba District in the north of the country, trained as a teacher and pastor at Mvera, a major center of the Dutch Reformed Church, now part of the Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP). His mother, Esnati Nachulu, was from the Mphezi chieftainship of matrilineal heritage in the Matawamilonde area in Dedza, which then became the home of the Tembos.

John Tembo went to Mlanda Mission primary school from which he proceeded to Blantyre Secondary School Four years later he passed the Cambridge School Certificate and entered Pius XII College later renamed the National University of Lesotho on a Nyasaland government scholarship After graduating with a B A ...


Steven J. Niven

banker, lawyer, and political activist, was born on the campus of Kittrell College in Vance County, North Carolina. He was the younger of two children born to John Leonidas Wheeler, the president of Kittrell College, and Margaret Hervey. Shortly after John was born, his father left Kittrell to work for the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company in nearby Durham. The family moved again in 1912 to Atlanta, Georgia, where John’s father took a position as a regional supervisor for the North Carolina Mutual. The move ensured that John Hervey Wheeler enjoyed a relatively comfortable childhood among Atlanta’s black elite. He was a member of the prestigious Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal church, attended public school in Atlanta up to the seventh grade, earned local fame as an accomplished violinist, and completed his high school education at Morehouse College. Wheeler graduated summa cum laude from Morehouse in 1929 ...


Jeremy Rich

president of Benin, was born on 1 July 1952 in the central Beninese town of Tchaourou. His father belonged to the Nago ethnic community, a Yoruba-speaking group that long lived in what became the independent country of Benin. Boni’s mother belonged to the small Bariba ethnic group from the northern part of the country. Boni’s family was Muslim, but he later converted to Pentecostal Christianity. He later married Chantal De Souza, a member of the very wealthy De Souza family from the coastal city of Whydah. The couple had five children.

He began his studies in 1959 at the École Publique in Tcharourou. Later, he attended secondary school at Lycée Mathieu Bouke in the northern Beninese town of Parakou, where he ultimately passed his baccalaureate examinations in 1972 He received a master s degree in economics from the National University of Benin He received several other graduate degrees from ...