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Eleanor Hinton Hoytt

Widely recognized and honored as one of the great civil rights and women’s rights leaders of contemporary history, Dorothy Irene Height spent decades inspiring and leading countless organizations in the struggle for equality and human rights for all people. To mark her ninety-second birthday on 24 March 2004, Dorothy Irene Height was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush. The ceremony in the Capital Rotunda in Washington was to honor her lifetime of achievements and service to the country as one of the preeminent social justice and civil rights activists of her time.

In her memoir, Open Wide the Freedom Gates, Height chronicles her life and work for justice, equality, and opportunity for women and black families. In it, she recounts her close relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary McLeod Bethune, as well as her encounters with W. E. B. Du Bois ...


Eslanda Robeson's father died when she was six, and the family moved from her native Washington, D.C., to New York City. In 1921, she married singer and actor Paul Robeson. Eslanda Robeson received a B.S. in chemistry from Columbia University and, in 1945 a Ph ...


Shane Graham

British journalist, editor, broadcaster, human rights activist, and author of numerous books on South Africa, Europe, and other subjects, was born on 3 August 1926 in Billingham, England. Born to Michael Sampson, chief scientist for Imperial Chemical Industries, and his wife Phyllis, his full name was Anthony Terrell Seward Sampson. He won a scholarship to attend Westminster School beginning in 1941. After graduating in 1944 he joined the Royal Navy, where he was briefly stationed in war-torn occupied Germany. In 1947 Sampson returned to Britain to attend Christ Church, Oxford University, where he studied Elizabethan drama.

After graduating in 1950 Sampson worked a number of jobs but struggled to discover the next step in his life’s path. Then in 1951 he was invited by the South African publisher Jim Bailey to move to Johannesburg and take over the editorship of the struggling new magazine Drum Under Sampson s ...


Leon Howard Sullivan was born in Charleston, West Virginia, and raised by his grandmother who encouraged him to help the disadvantaged. He pursued this goal by entering the ministry. He was pastor of Philadelphia's Zion Baptist Church from 1950 to 1988. In 1964 he founded the Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America (OIC), which provided educational and vocational training for unskilled African American workers. For this work Sullivan was awarded the prestigious Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1971. By 1980 the OIC had grown into a national force, and by 1993 despite funding cuts, the OIC's programs had been instituted in several sub-Saharan African countries.

In 1977 Sullivan enumerated six principles that were guidelines for American corporations doing business in South Africa Known as the Sullivan Principles these guidelines were designed to use American corporate power to promote ...


Lorna Lueker Zukas

Zimbabwean author and human rights activist, was born at the Dadaya Mission in Zimbabwe (formerly Southern Rhodesia) on 18 March 1943. Her missionary father, Reginald Stephen Garfield Todd, served as Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia (1953–1958). His plan to extend the franchise, majority rule, and human rights to blacks led to his expulsion from political life and left the family ostracized from white society. Her mother, Jean Grace Wilson Todd, designed and implemented the Southern Rhodesian African Educational System and fully supported her husband and daughter’s political activities. Garfield Todd received a papal medal in 1973 for his peace and human rights work and a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth of England in 1986. Serving as a senator in Zimbabwe’s first parliament (1980–1985), he left government service after becoming disillusioned with Robert Mugabe’s leadership.

Judith Todd likewise dedicated her life to the freedom struggles of blacks in Zimbabwe In ...