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Charlotte Crawford Watkins

Charles Eaton Burch was born on July 14, 1891, in Bermuda. His early education was in the elementary and secondary schools of Bermuda, and his advanced training was in the United States, at Wilberforce University (B.A., 1914), Columbia University (M.A., 1918), and Ohio State University (Ph.D., 1933). He taught in the academic department of Tuskegee Institute in 1916 and 1917, and from 1918 to 1921 he taught at Wilberforce as an instructor in English. In 1921 he was appointed to the faculty of Howard University, where he served, successively, as assistant professor (1921–1924), associate professor (1924–1936), and professor of English, and as acting head and (from 1933) head of the Department of English until his death on March 23, 1948 In addition to his work as a scholar Burch made two major contributions to Howard University In ...


Dorsia Smith Silva

educator and writer, was born in Hampton, Virginia and raised in a middle-class family. After receiving his bachelor's degree in American literature from Dartmouth College in 1939, Davis attended the University of Chicago and became a great enthusiast of the Harlem Renaissance. His master's thesis on the Harlem Renaissance was acclaimed by his professors and marked the beginning of his reputation as a dedicated scholar. Davis graduated with a master's degree in American Studies in 1942 and then entered the army to serve his country in World War II. While he steadily rose to the rank of a captain, he decided to return to academia as an instructor in American Civilizations and doctoral student in American literature at New York University in 1948 Being in a new academic setting inspired Davis to pursue a variety of literary interests such as the historical and cultural influences of poetry ...


R. Baxter Miller

scholar and educator, was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of James Stanley Dykes and Martha Ann Howard. Eva graduated from M Street High (later Paul Laurence Dunbar High School) in 1910. As valedictorian of her class, she won a $10 scholarship from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to attend Howard University, where in 1914 she graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English. After a year of teaching Latin and English at the now defunct Walden University in Nashville, Tennessee, and for another year elsewhere, she was urged by James Howard, a physician and uncle on her mother's side, to enter Radcliffe College in 1916. Subsequently, she earned a second BA in English, magna cum laude, in 1917. Elected Phi Beta Kappa, she received an MA in English in 1918 and a PhD in English philology in 1921 Her dissertation was titled ...


educator, literary and cultural critic, and leading scholar in African and African American studies, was born Louis Smith Gates in Keyser, West Virginia. Gates, nicknamed “Skip” by his mother at birth, grew up in nearby Piedmont, the son of Henry Louis Gates Sr., a mill worker and janitor, and Pauline Coleman Gates, a homemaker and seamstress. Born four years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education and encouraged by his parents, he excelled in Piedmont's integrated schools, including the Davis Free School and Piedmont High School, as did his older brother Paul, known as “Rocky,” who would become Chief of Oral Surgery at Bronx Lebanon Hospital.

At age fourteen Gates experienced two cataclysmic events in his young life the first a misdiagnosed slipped epithesis a hip injury that led to three surgeries in a year and the second his joining the Episcopal ...


Frances Smith Foster

scholar, teacher, editor, and author, was born Nellie Yvonne Reynolds in New York City, the daughter of Harry, a taxi driver, and Nellie Reynolds, a homemaker. Graduating cum laude from Queens College in 1969 with a BA in English, McKay was accepted into the PhD program at Harvard University for British and American Literature.

McKay was part of the first cohort of African American graduate students determined to include the literatures, histories, and religions of African Americans in their research and study. However, McKay often reminisced about Harvard not having any black literature class and how her graduate colleagues taught one another. Not only did they have to teach one another but they also had to create their own bibliographies and share the few extant copies of the books. McKay dedicated her life to filling this void.

In 1973 she began teaching at ...


Mildred T. Nichols

university professor, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the last of seven children born to Charles F. Nichols and Julia E. King, who were Plymouth Church of the Brethren missionary immigrants from Christ Church, Barbados. Reared in a tradition of rigorous and Calvinistic Bible study, his gift for learning became obvious during childhood. His father, anticipating future job discrimination, enrolled him in a vocational school to learn the printing trade. Soon after, he was accepted at the prestigious Boys High School, where he excelled and was the salutatorian of the 1938 class. Nichols attended Brooklyn College on a State of New York university scholarship and a Rachel Herstein scholarship administered by the NAACP. He was a member of the debate team and the glee club, and graduated cum laude in 1942 with a BA in English.

Except for unskilled jobs in the garment district Nichols was unable to ...


Theodore O. Mason

Born in 1941 in Trinidad, Arnold Rampersad received a BA and MA from Bowling Green State University and an MA and PhD from Harvard. He has held teaching positions at Stanford, Rutgers, and Columbia. Rampersad was Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature at Princeton and is Sara Hart Kimball Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Stanford University. From 1991 to 1996, he held a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, Rampersad was a 2010 recipient of the National Humanities Medal.

Although he began his career specializing in Herman Melville, Rampersad is best known for biographies of W. E. B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes. In The Art and Imagination of W. E. B. Du Bois (1976 Rampersad sought to trace the intellectual development of one of this century s preeminent black political and social ...


Greta Koehler

professor of English and African American studies, was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, to Harold N. Tate, an engineer, and Mary Austin Tate, a mathematician. Her parents received their degrees from North Carolina Central University in Durham. During World War II they came to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, where her father served as an engineer in the army and her mother worked for the U.S. Department of Defense. Tate was an honor student at Rumson–Fair Haven Regional High School in New Jersey and received her bachelor's degree in English and American Literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1968.

Tate subsequently entered the graduate program in Harvard's English Department, where she was one of only a few black women. She received her Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language in 1977 Tate started teaching at Howard University in Washington DC and joined ...


Charles Boewe

university professor, was born Kenny Jackson in Omaha, Nebraska, the only child of the Reverend Joseph Harrison Jackson and Maude Thelma (Alexander) Jackson. Kenny's father was a distinguished pulpit orator and well-regarded writer who traveled widely, especially after he became head of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., in 1953, and had responsibility for its eight million members. Although Maude Jackson often accompanied her husband on his trips, he had to be in Kentucky while she stayed in Nebraska for the birth of their baby, a fact commemorated in their daughter's unusual first name. The family moved to Chicago in 1941 when Kenny s father became pastor of the Olivet Baptist Church there In Chicago her father s well stocked library and her mother s work with amateur dramatic groups helped prepare Kenny for the intellectual life she would pursue Although she was not born there Chicago ...