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George White

psychiatrist, educational reformer, and author. Born to working-class parents during the Great Depression, James Pierpont Comer became a world-renowned child psychiatrist. He spent his childhood in East Chicago, Indiana, but then traveled to the East Coast and did work at some of America's most prestigious academic institutions. By the early twenty-first century he stood as an intellectual pioneer and an advocate for disadvantaged children.

Comer's parents lacked extensive formal education, and both worked outside the home—his father as a laborer at a steel mill and his mother as a domestic. Yet they created an environment that cultivated self-esteem, confidence, and high academic achievement for James and his siblings. After completing high school in 1952, Comer attended and graduated from Indiana University, but his negative experiences in Bloomington encouraged him to attend medical school elsewhere. He earned his MD in 1960 from Howard University and a ...

Article

Robert Fikes

surgeon and medical educator, was born Claude Harold Organ Jr. in Marshall, Texas, the second of three children born to Claude Harold Organ Sr., a postal worker, and Ottolena Pemberton, a schoolteacher. At age sixteen Claude Jr. graduated as valedictorian from Terrell High School in Denison, Texas, and followed his sister to Xavier University, a historically black Catholic school in New Orleans, from which he graduated cum laude in 1948.

Inspired by the achievements of the celebrated physician-inventor Charles Richard Drew and encouraged by two maternal uncles Organ chose to study medicine He was not allowed to enroll at the University of Texas because of his race His application to Creighton University in Omaha Nebraska however was accepted and he became only the second African American to be admitted into its medical school A focused hard driven student with a gift for public speaking Organ ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

novelist, short-story writer, and children's book author. Ann Lane grew up in the white, middle-class town of Old Saybrook, Connecticut. The daughter of a pharmacist, she initially followed in her father's footsteps, earning a degree in pharmacy from the Connecticut College of Pharmacy in 1931 and then working in the family drugstore for seven years. In 1938 she married the writer George Petry and moved to Harlem to pursue a writing career.

In Harlem she worked as a reporter for the Amsterdam News and the People's Voice. She also began volunteering at an after-school program for latchkey children. This exposure to poverty and the difficulties faced by urban black women had a profound influence on her writing.

In the 1940s Petry published several short stories in periodicals including Phylon and The Crisis. A grant from Houghton Mifflin allowed her to write her first novel, The Street ...

Article

Willie Hobbs

psychiatrist, author, and educator, was born in the East Harlem section of New York City, the seventh of eight children of Christopher Poussaint, a typographer and printer, and Harriet Johnston Poussaint, a homemaker. At the age of nine, Poussaint was stricken with rheumatic fever. A lengthy convalescence forced him to take up reading and avoid most of the physical activities that other children his age would normally participate in. But it was his love of reading that flourished during this time and fueled his academic prowess. His thirst for knowledge carried into extracurricular activities, where he taught himself how to play the clarinet, the saxophone, and flute.

Poussaint graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1952. He immediately went on to attend Columbia University as a premedical student with a concentration in French, and he graduated in 1956 In medical school Poussaint chose to ...

Article

Crystal Renée Sanders

college administrator, educator, and clinical psychologist, was born Beverly Daniel in Tallahassee, Florida, to Robert Daniel, who taught art at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and Catherine Maxwell Daniel. Raised in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Tatum is a fourth-generation college professor following in the footsteps of her paternal great-grandfather William Hazel, who was the first dean of Howard University's school of architecture; her paternal grandparents Victor and Constance Daniel, who led Maryland's Cardinal Gibbons Institute; and her father. Tatum earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Wesleyan University in 1975, graduating magna cum laude. She also received a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Michigan in 1976 and 1984, respectively. In 2000 Tatum earned a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from Hartford Seminary. While at the University of Michigan, she married Travis James Tatum ...