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Beverly Lanier Skinner

scholar, professor, and cultural critic, was born in Hampton, Virginia, the youngest of nine siblings in one of Hampton's most socially prominent black families. His father, Andrew Davis, born a slave, was an 1872 graduate of Hampton Institute and was the “leading plasterer and plastering contractor in Hampton” (Negro History Bulletin, Jan. 1950). He and his wife, Frances S. Nash, were strict disciplinarians who taught their children to refuse any form of charity during the difficult Depression era and to refuse menial job offers from whites. Davis's parents also taught him high standards of decorum, including not eating watermelon, not shelling peas on the front porch, and avoiding “emotional excesses” (for example, “shouting” in church and talking loudly), he recalled in a 1944 essay called “When I Was in Knee Pants” (47).

Davis s parents sent him to the ...

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Jeff Shantz

writer and union activist, was born in rural Alabama. As a youth Denby endured the hardships of farm labor. During the 1920s he joined the Great Migration of African American workers who migrated to the northern industrial centers in search of employment. Denby ended up in Detroit, where he found work as an auto assembler on the production lines.

The 1930s were a period of militant mobilization and organization among workers in the auto industry and Denby became a leading participant in the wildcat strikes that swept through the industry in the 1930s and 1940s crucial struggles in the development of the United Auto Workers UAW His involvement in these organizing campaigns both reinforced his view that struggles over race and class were intricately enmeshed and convinced him that working class gains could not be made unless unions were prepared to attack systemic racism a perspective that was not ...

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Amy Sparks Kolker

noted astrophysicist, astronomer, and writer, was born in New York City, second of three children born to Cyril deGrasse Tyson, a former commissioner for human resources for the mayor of New York City, and Sunchita Tyson a gerontologist Tyson grew up in New York City attending the Bronx High School of Science His interest in science particularly astronomy began early when he was nine years old he saw his first magnified view of the moon through a pair of binoculars Receiving a telescope for his twelfth birthday only furthered his already intense fascination with the universe Tyson also took regular trips to the Hayden Planetarium and benefited from the classes offered there When he was fourteen years old he participated in an astronomy camp held in the Mojave Desert These experiences gave Tyson enough expertise in the field of astronomy to begin giving lectures on ...