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Dorsia Smith Silva

writer, educator, and preacher, was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Addie Mae Leonard, a teacher's aide. In 1990 Dyson was adopted by the auto worker Everett Dyson when Leonard married him. As a child, Dyson read avidly and enjoyed the Harvard Classics. His intellectual vigor earned him a scholarship to the prestigious Cranbrook Kingswood School in 1972. However, Dyson behaved poorly and was expelled in 1974. He then attended Northwestern High School and graduated in 1976.

In 1977, Dyson married his girlfriend, Terrie Dyson, who gave birth to Michael Eric Dyson II a year later. Due to the pressures of being a young couple, Dyson and his wife divorced in 1979. To help focus his life, Dyson became a licensed Baptist preacher in 1979 and ordained minister in 1981 with his pastor Frederick G. Sampson II s assistance He ...

Article

Anthony A. Lee

Badi Foster was born in Chicago to an interracial Baha'i family. His father (William) was black, and his mother (Ruth) was white. When Badi (which means “wonderful” in Arabic and is the name of a celebrated Baha'i martyr) was eleven, his parents moved to Morocco as pioneers (missionaries) for the Baha'i religion. He spent his adolescence in that country, learning French and Arabic. He attended the American School in Casablanca to the eighth grade, and then transferred to the American School of Tangiers where he completed his high school education in 1960.

As a consequence of learning new languages and negotiating new cultures Foster discovered that although Morocco had its own structures of inequality and oppression American notions of race were unknown there He explains that as a boy therefore he was vaccinated against racism never internalizing ideas or racial inferiority and gaining important insights even as a teenager ...

Article

Bobby Donaldson

One of the chief advocates of the Black Aesthetic, Addison Gayle, Jr., was born in Newport News, Virginia, on 2 June 1932. Inspired by the growing example of Richard Wright, young Gayle became a fastidious reader and hoped that a writing career would enable him to over come the strictures of poverty and racism. By the time he graduated from high school in 1950, Gayle had completed a three-hundred-page novel.

Unable to attend college or secure profitable employment, Gayle joined the air force. During his short stint, he wrote copious drafts of his novel, short stories, and poetry and submitted them for publication. After an honorable discharge and several rejection letters from publishers, Gayle reluctantly returned to Virginia.

In 1960, Gayle enrolled in the City College of New York and received his BA in 1965. The following year he earned an MA in English ...

Article

Virginia C. Fowler

Nikki Giovanni emerged from the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s to become one of the most widely admired and emulated poets and speakers of her time. Acting on her belief that poetry is “the culture of a people” and that it should, like food, be available to everyone, Giovanni for more than thirty-five years crisscrossed the country to weave her tapestry of poetry and lecture before audiences of every kind.

Nikki Giovanni was born Yolande Cornelia Giovanni Jr. in Knoxville, Tennessee her mother s hometown Just two months after Giovanni was born her parents took the family north to Cincinnati Ohio to find better employment and a freer environment Like many children whose parents were a part of the Great Migration however Giovanni and her sister returned South in the summer staying in Knoxville with their maternal grandparents andabsorbing many of the traditions and values associated with southern ...

Article

Jennifer Curry

New Yorker columnist and author of popular nonfiction, was born in Fareham, England, the youngest of three sons born to Graham M. L. Gladwell, a British mathematician, and Joyce (Nation) Gladwell, a Jamaican-born family therapist. His parents met while attending university in England in the 1950s; during that time interracial couples were not common, and Joyce Gladwell later wrote of the couple's struggle for acceptance, as well as of her own experiences growing up a “brown face” in Jamaica, in her book Brown Face, Big Master, which was published in 1969. That same year the Gladwell family relocated to Elmira, Canada, which is just outside Toronto, after Graham Gladwell—who has authored numerous mathematical texts—accepted a teaching position at the University of Waterloo.

In “Black Like Them,” a 1996 article written for the New Yorker Gladwell described Elmira as a close knit sleepy town in which ...

Article

Pero Gaglo Dagbovie

A scholar of national renown, Darlene Clark Hine has published pathbreaking scholarship; introduced and developed new and existing fields of scholarly inquiries; provided leadership for various groups of scholars; and mentored and trained several generations of historians. She served as president of the Organization of American Historians (2001-2002) and the Southern Historical Association (2002-2003). During her productive, decades-long career as a professional historian, Hine has taught at eight different universities, published several books, cowritten and coedited a dozen scholarly volumes, edited three major works, written more than fifty journal articles and chapters in anthologies, presented more than sixty papers in professional venues, lectured at universities all over the United States, and served on countless programming, advisory, and nominating committees and editorial boards. Since the mid-1980s, Hine has received numerous grants, awards, and honors, including honorary doctorates from Purdue University and Buffalo State College, the Detroit News ...

Article

Amanda J. Davis

writer, activist, editor, speaker, was born Barbara Smith in the central part of Cleveland, Ohio. Smith's mother died at age thirty-four, exactly one month before Smith's tenth birthday; her father, she writes, was a “total mystery” to her. Smith and her twin sister, Beverly, were reared in a modest, working-class home by their mother, maternal grandmother, and great-aunt Phoebe. When Smith was six years old she and her family moved into a two-family house that her aunt LaRue and uncle Bill had bought and she lived there until she was eighteen and went away to college It is this house that Smith most vividly remembers as home and from which she learned many of the fundamentals of black feminism before such a term even existed As Smith watched the women in her family struggle with dignity strength and perseverance against a segregated society marred ...

Article

Lisa C. Lakes

author, businessman, and inspirational speaker, was born Clifton LeMoure Taulbert in Glen Allan, Mississippi, the eldest child of Mary Esther Taulbert, a schoolteacher who later became a Head Start Center director, and Willie Jones, a Baptist preacher. Because his mother was unmarried at the time of his birth, Taulbert's great-grandparents, Joe and Pearl Young, raised him so his mother could continue her education. When his great-grandmother became too ill to care for him, Taulbert moved to live with his great-aunt, Mrs. Elna Peters Boose, or “Ma Ponk.”

Taulbert s childhood memories included patronizing the black minstrel show working with his uncle in an icehouse and being the first black hired to work in the white owned Hilton Food Store Before graduating from high school Taulbert worked the cash register in addition to his duties of stocking cleaning and delivering groceries A bright and ...