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Marilyn Demarest Button

educator, administrator, writer, and activist, was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of Thomas Cornelius Cuthbert and Victoria Means. She attended grammar and secondary school in her hometown and studied at the University of Minnesota before transferring to Boston University, where she completed her BA in 1920.

Following her graduation, Cuthbert moved to Florence, Alabama, and became an English teacher and assistant principal at Burrell Normal School. Promoted to principal in 1925, she began to lead students and faculty in bold new perspectives on gender equality and interracial harmony.

In 1927 Cuthbert left Burrell to become one of the first deans of Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. In her essay, “The Dean of Women at Work,” published in the Journal of the National Association of College Women (Apr. 1928 she articulated her belief that covert sexism at the administrative level of black colleges limited their ...


William L. Andrews

William Pickens, one of the most popular African American speakers of his era, was born in Anderson County, South Carolina, on 15 January 1881, the son of former slaves who worked as tenant farmers. His parents moved their family to Arkansas in 1888 in search of better economic and educational opportunities. From the beginning a zealous student, Pickens's first systematic schooling came in 1890 in Argenta, across the river from Little Rock. With funds earned from a variety of manual labor jobs, Pickens paid his way to attend the Little Rock High School, from which he graduated at the top of his class in 1899. He then obtained admission to Talladega College in Alabama, where he studied for three years before entering Yale University in 1902 At Yale Pickens won the Henry James Ten Eyck prize in oratory for a speech on Haiti and was elected to ...