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Ralph E. Luker

journalist, dentist, and civil rights activist, was born in Blackstock, South Carolina, the son of Jesse Max Barber and Susan Crawford, former slaves. Barber studied in public schools for African American students and at Friendship Institute in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he graduated as valedictorian. In 1901 he completed the normal school course for teachers at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, and afterward entered Virginia Union University in Richmond. There Barber was president of the literary society and edited the University Journal. In 1903 Barber earned a bachelor's degree and spent the summer after graduation as a teacher and traveling agent for an industrial school in Charleston, South Carolina.

By November 1903, Barber had moved to Atlanta to accept an offer from a white publisher, Austin N. Jenkins, to assist in launching a new literary journal, the Voice of the Negro ...

Article

Alexander J. Chenault

dentist and pioneer in the field of public health, was born in Washington, D.C., on 14 October 1884, the son of John Robert and Blanche Maguire Brown. Roscoe was a superior student, serving as the senior captain of the cadet corps at the M Street High School, later known as the Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School in the District, from which he graduated in 1903. He then attended Howard University, having earned a scholarship. Brown received his dental degree from Howard University's College of Dentistry in 1906. Brown married the former Miss Vivian Jeanette Kemp, a public school teacher, in 1921, and together they had two children, a son, Roscoe Conkling Jr., and a daughter, Portia.

From 1907 to 1915 Brown practiced dentistry in Washington D C and then Richmond Virginia During this time he also taught hygiene and sanitation at the Richmond Hospital Training ...

Article

Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, dentist, and politician, was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Gary W. Cable, a teacher and postal worker, and Mary Ellen Montgomery Cable, a public school administrator and civil rights activist. In 1894 the family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Cable attended public school and graduated from integrated Shortridge High School in 1908. He moved on to the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for the next school year and enrolled at Harvard University in 1909.

Cable had not participated in organized athletics in high school, but he tried out for the freshman track team at Harvard and caught the eye of Coach Pat Quinn. With Quinn's guidance, Cable developed rapidly. In the annual Harvard-Yale freshman meet, he won the hammer throw and he also performed well in the 220-yard hurdles and the broad jump (now the long jump) in intramural competitions.

He easily made ...

Article

Louis M. Abbey

periodontist, public health specialist, and educator, was born Clifton Orin Dummett in Georgetown, British Guiana (later Guyana), the youngest of four children of Eglantine Annabella Johnson, a homemaker, and Alexander Adolphus Dummett, a pharmacist and registered dentist. Clifton attended St. Phillips Elementary School from 1924 until 1930 and Queen's College high school from 1930 until 1936, both in Georgetown, British Guiana. His values were strongly influenced by his father, mother, and uncle, Reginald Johnson, an Edinburgh-trained public health physician in Georgetown. “I came from a family that believed in the equality of man. I respected all peoples and demanded similar respect from those with whom I came in contact” (personal communication with the author).

Right after high school, in 1936 Alexander Adolphus Dummett obtained a student visa for his son to study in the United States at Howard University in Washington D ...

Article

Elvatrice Parker Belsches

dentist, dental and medical organizational leader, hospital founder, and author, was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, the oldest of the six children of William B. Ferguson and Cornelia Taylor Ferguson. William Ferguson was a noted educator in Portsmouth, Ohio, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and at the Christiansburg Industrial Institute in Virginia. David's brother George R. Ferguson, MD, served as assistant secretary for the National Medical Association (NMA), and his nephew William Ferguson Reid, MD, was the first African American elected to the Virginia legislature in the twentieth century.

In 1885 William Ferguson moved his family to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where David Ferguson completed grammar school and embarked upon the first of two invaluable dentistry apprenticeships. In 1889 Ferguson began apprenticing for the white dentist Dr. E. T. Barr for whom he worked until shortly before returning to Portsmouth Ohio to enter high school ...

Article

Robert Fikes

dentist, civil rights activist, and art and book collector, was born Jack Johnson Kimbrough in Lexington, Mississippi, the son of Samuel Gulbridge Kimbrough, a blacksmith, and Mary Hoover. Jack was named after the famed African American boxer Jack Johnson. When he was seven, the Kimbroughs, intimidated by local Ku Klux Klansmen and seeking better economic opportunities, moved from Mississippi to Alameda, California, where relatives resided. After graduating from Alameda High School in 1926 Jack attended Sacramento Junior College He continued his studies at the University of California at Berkeley where he studied chemistry while working as a janitor waiter cook and landscaper His interest in science as well as the relatively shorter time that it took to earn a dentistry degree than a medical degree persuaded him enroll in the University of California Dental School in San Francisco from which he graduated with ...

Article

Pamela Blackmon

orthodontist, educator, and U.S. Army colonel, was born in Chicago, the son of Eugene Renfroe and Bertha. A 1921 graduate of Austin O. Sexton Grammar School, Renfroe attended James H. Bowen High School, where he was the first African American student in the school's history to achieve the rank of cadet commander in the Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC). This was one of many “firsts” that characterized his life.

Renfroe next enrolled at Crane Junior College, then he was admitted to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry. While there, he became the first student to tackle a full course load while also working full-time outside of the college. Undaunted by the difficulties of such a feat, he still managed to graduate first in a class of 127 dental students in 1931.

By the time Renfroe joined the Illinois National Guard in ...

Article

J. D. Bowers

civil rights activist, religious pioneer, dentist, and investor, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, the youngest son of Thomas Gustavius Somerville, an Anglican minister. Little is known about his mother. He was educated in the Jamaican public schools, where he learned that social status and racial attitudes often triumphed over equality, and between 1897 and 1900 he attended and graduated from Mico College in Kingston with a teaching degree.

Rather than strain against the prevailing practices, Somerville left home for the United States in December 1901 at age nineteen in the company of a childhood friend seeking both adventure and a future devoid of racial intolerance Arriving in San Francisco with some money from his father Somerville quickly settled in Los Angeles a city whose prospects he considered promising Even in Los Angeles however he felt the pangs of America s racial prejudice He was ...