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Nigerian writer, also known as Catherine Obianuju Acholonu-Olumba, was born on 26 October 1951 in Orlu of Igbo parentage. The daughter of Chief Lazarus Emejuru Olumba and Josephine Olumba of Umuokwara Village in the town of Orlu in Imo State, southeastern Nigeria, she obtained her early education at local primary and secondary schools in Orlu. At age seventeen, in an arranged marriage, she became the wife of Douglas Acholonu, a surgeon then living in Germany, by whom she had four children: Ifunanya, Nneka, Chidozie, and Kelechi. In 1974 she registered as a student of English and American language and literature and Germanic linguistics at the University of Dusseldorf and earned a master’s degree in her chosen field in 1977.

Upon returning to Nigeria in 1980, she accepted a teaching appointment at Alvan Ikoku College of Education in Owerri. While teaching, Acholonu was also writing her PhD dissertation. In 1982 ...

Article

Carolyn Wedin

author and performer. Born Marguerite Ann Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, to Bailey Johnson and Vivian Baxter Johnson, Angelou was given her shortened first name, Maya, by her brother Bailey. She later modified the name of her first husband, Tosh Angelos, to whom she was married from 1952 to 1955, to form her last name. Her parents divorced soon after her birth, and in 1930 she and her brother were sent to Stamps, Arkansas, where they were raised for most of the next ten years by their paternal grandmother, Anne Henderson (or “Momma”). After Angelou's graduation with honors in 1940 from Lafayette County Training School, she and her brother were put on a train for San Francisco, where they were to live with their recently remarried mother. In 1944 the unmarried sixteen-year-old Angelou gave birth to her only child, Clyde Johnson, later Guy Johnson ...

Article

Charles Orson Cook

one of the most prolific white scholars of African American history in the twentieth century. Herbert Aptheker was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915 and was educated at Columbia University in the 1930s, where he took an undergraduate degree in geology and an MA and a PhD in history. His first important publication, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), was based on his doctoral dissertation and challenged the prevailing wisdom that slaves were largely passive victims of white masters. In part an outgrowth of Aptheker's master's thesis on Nat Turner, American Negro Slave Revolts immediately became a controversial work and has remained so since. He was befriended by the influential African American historian Carter G. Woodson and the legendary black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, both of whom encouraged his interest in Negro history. Aptheker's other writings include a seven-volume Documentary History of the Negro People ...

Article

Daniel Douglas

(b. 14 August 1942), scholar. One of the foremost contemporary scholars in the field of African American studies, Asante was born Arthur Lee Smith Jr. in Valdosta, Georgia, one of sixteen children of Arthur Lee Smith and Lillie Smith. In 1964 he graduated cum laude from Oklahoma Christian University with a BA in communications. The next year he earned his MA, also in communications, from Pepperdine University. Three years later, in 1968, he earned his PhD in communications from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

After spending a year at Purdue University, Asante returned to UCLA as a faculty member. With the 1969 publication of his first major work, Rhetoric of Black Revolution he was named director of the university s Center for Afro American Studies He helped create the African American Library at UCLA and helped establish its MA program in Afro ...

Article

Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

Dantès Bellegarde was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1877. His family had long been at the center of Haitian politics. Bellegarde's mother was Marie Boisson and his father Jean-Louis Bellegarde. His maternal great-grandfather, Jacques Ignace Fresnel, was named judge by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution, who became the first leader of the independent state in 1804 and soon proclaimed himself Emperor Jean-Jacques I. This same great-grandfather was later minister of justice under President Jean-Pierre Boyer, who ruled all of Haiti from 1820 to 1843. Bellegarde's paternal grandfather, Jean-Louis de Bellegarde, was a duke and marshal in Haiti's second empire during the rule of Faustin Soulouque, who declared himself emperor and ruled from 1847 to 1859. Bellegarde's aunt, Argentine Bellegarde (1842–1901), was a noted educator and an early feminist. Bellegarde married Cécile Savain (1875–1965 ...

Article

Theresa Leininger-Miller

writer and artist, was born in Giddings, Texas, the daughter of Joshua Robin Bennett and Mayme F. Abernathy, teachers on an Indian reservation. In 1906 the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Gwendolyn's father studied law and her mother worked as a manicurist and hairdresser. When her parents divorced, her mother won custody, but her father kidnapped the seven-year-old Gwendolyn. The two, with Gwendolyn's stepmother, lived in hiding in various towns along the East Coast and in Pennsylvania before finally settling in New York.

At Brooklyn's Girls' High (1918–1921) Bennett participated in the drama and literary societies—the first African American to do so—and won first place in an art contest. She attended fine arts classes at Columbia University (1921) and the Pratt Institute, from which she graduated in 1924 While she was still an undergraduate her poems Nocturne and Heritage were published in ...

Article

Jody Benjamin

film and television historian, was born in Philadelphia to Roslyn, a homemaker and arts advocate, and John Dudley Bogle, vice president and advertising director of the Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest continually published black newspaper in the country. Bogle's father was educated at the Virginia Theological Seminary where his maternal grandfather, Robert Clisson Woods, had also been president. His father had studied history and was a charismatic speaker on behalf of African Americans' civil rights. Bogle's mother decided against college and eloped with John Bogle when she was a teenager. Because of her upbringing in a highly educated family, however, she had developed a deep knowledge and appreciation for the arts and culture, which she passed on to her children.

While Bogle was still an infant his large family moved to a suburb of Philadelphia and he grew up in a predominately white middle class community Bogle ...

Article

Robert E. Fleming

writer, was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, the son of Paul Bismark Bontemps, a bricklayer, and Maria Carolina Pembroke, a schoolteacher. He was reared in Los Angeles, where his family moved when he was three. He graduated from Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, in 1923.Bontemps then moved to Harlem, New York, where the Harlem Renaissance had already attracted the attention of West Coast intellectuals. He found a teaching job at the Harlem Academy in 1924 and began to publish poetry. He won the Alexander Pushkin Prize from Opportunity, a journal published by the National Urban League, in 1926 and 1927 and The Crisis (official journal of the NAACP) Poetry Prize in 1926. His career soon intersected that of the poet Langston Hughes, with whom he became a close friend and sometime collaborator. In Harlem, Bontemps also came to know Countée Cullen, W ...

Article

Jason Miller

poet and community activist. Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, to David Anderson Brooks, a janitor, and Keziah Wims Brooks, a former schoolteacher. The house in Kansas belonged to Brooks's grandmother, and soon the family moved to their home in Chicago, Illinois, where Gwendolyn grew up in the city's South Side with her parents and younger brother, Raymond. For most of her life she remained associated with the South Side. Brooks attended Forrestville Elementary School, and it was during these earliest years of her education that her mother began to encourage in her an interest in poetry and verse recital.

Brooks attended Hyde Park High School for a time but later transferred from that mostly white school first to an all black school and later to an integrated one Though her home life afforded her some stability and happiness Brooks was keenly aware of the ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

Best known for his weekly Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television show Tony Brown's Journal, Tony Brown has become a controversial figure in the landscape of American race relations. Although once active in the Civil Rights Movement, he has criticized present-day black activists for prioritizing civil rights at the expense of black business initiatives and education programs in computer technologies. He advocates black economic self-sufficiency and has consistently opposed welfare as well as Affirmative Action policies that he believes mainly benefit middle-class blacks. “If America were capitalist,” said Brown in an interview with Matthew Robinson of Business Daily, “it could not be racist. Racism is flourishing because we are awash in socialistic controls.”

Born in Charleston, West Virginia, Brown was reared by two domestic workers, Elizabeth Sanford and Mabel Holmes who informally adopted him at the age of two months after his father deserted the family ...

Article

Teresa Tomkins-Walsh

teacher, historian, author, and lecturer, son of Ellen and Ira B. Bryant Sr., was born in Crockett, Texas, on 18 October 1904. Both Ira Sr. and Ellen were educators. When the family moved to Houston in 1920, Bryant Jr. entered Colored High School (later Booker T. Washington High School). Ira Bryant graduated in January 1924, and then worked aboard a ship to save money for college and travel. Bryant attended Fisk University in Tennessee from 1924 to 1928, graduating with a bachelor's degree. He finished his master's degree at the University of Kansas in 1934 and his Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California in 1948.

In 1929 Bryant began teaching social science at Phillis Wheatley High School in Houston. Working as a teacher, Bryant wrote and published The Development of the Houston Negro Schools (1936 During ...

Article

Teresa Tomkins-Walsh

author, historian, teacher, and pianist, was born Olga Thelma Scott on 26 September 1905 in Houston's Third Ward, the only child of Ella and Walter Scott. Ella Scott, the daughter of slaves, was a full-time wife and mother; she was an excellent seamstress who sewed for her family but also taught neighbors to sew clothes, make quilts, and embroider. Walter Scott worked in a tobacco shop. Later, he followed in his father's footsteps to become a mail carrier, delivering mail to the homes of elite white families in the Second Ward.

Encouraged by the example of her paternal uncle, Emmett J. Scott, Bryant studied hard. She spoke as salutatorian at her Douglass Elementary School graduation in 1918 presenting her essay America s Share Is Our Share Bryant s family expected her to attend college and she expected to study out of state Although there ...

Article

Charlotte Crawford Watkins

Charles Eaton Burch was born on July 14, 1891, in Bermuda. His early education was in the elementary and secondary schools of Bermuda, and his advanced training was in the United States, at Wilberforce University (B.A., 1914), Columbia University (M.A., 1918), and Ohio State University (Ph.D., 1933). He taught in the academic department of Tuskegee Institute in 1916 and 1917, and from 1918 to 1921 he taught at Wilberforce as an instructor in English. In 1921 he was appointed to the faculty of Howard University, where he served, successively, as assistant professor (1921–1924), associate professor (1924–1936), and professor of English, and as acting head and (from 1933) head of the Department of English until his death on March 23, 1948 In addition to his work as a scholar Burch made two major contributions to Howard University In ...

Article

Maxwell Akansina Aziabah

Ghanaian prime minister and sociologist, was born in Wenchi in the British Gold Coast colony on 11 July 1913. His mother was Nana Yaa Nsowaa, a prominent member of the royal Safoase Yefre matrilineage of Wenchi, and his father was Yaw Bosea. His mother later remarried, not long after Kofi was born. It is believed that Busia grew up under the tutelage of his stepfather, Kwabena Janso, since his biological father had little to do with him. At age six he was baptized Joseph Busia, a misspelling of his biological father’s surname that he would retain throughout his career.

As a boy Busia developed a keen interest in religious studies, which was bolstered by his contact with Wesleyan Methodist missionaries, notably the Reverend William Whittle and his wife Alice Whittle, a teacher. Busia impressed the Whittles, who encouraged his academic interests. In 1922 the Whittles brought Busia with ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Horace Cayton was born in Seattle, Washington, to activist and publisher Horace R. Cayton Sr. and Susie Revels Cayton, daughter of former United States senator Hiram Revels. Cayton dropped out of high school and joined the military, traveling to California, Mexico, and Hawaii before returning to Seattle in 1923. He finished high school and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in sociology.

In 1934 Cayton served as assistant to the U.S. secretary of the interior, completing a study of African American workers in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1935 he was named an instructor of economics and labor at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. By 1936 he returned to Chicago to direct a Works Progress Administration (WPA) study that focused on inner-city life.

Cayton worked as a columnist for the Pittsburgh Courier and coauthored a book with George S. Mitchell titled Black Workers and ...

Article

veteran of the strike of 1954, and leader of the Black pride movement in Honduras, also known as Santos Centeno García, was born on 3 February 1933 in Trujillo in the Colón department. His mother was Juana Ruperta García Castro, a Garifuna, born in Trujillo and a housewife, and his father was Santos Pio Centeno Velázquez, a Garifuna, born in Sangrelaya and a worker at the Standard Fruit Company. He married María Cruz Gotay Mejia, with whom he fathered eight children.

Garifuna people or Black Caribs are the result of the encounter between fugitive African slaves who arrived to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with the wreck of two Spanish ships in 1635, Maroons, fugitive African slaves from neighboring islands, local Indian Arawaks, and Caribs. In 1976 a revolt took place in Saint Vincent promoted by Victor Hughes a radical French colonial administrator and controlled by British ...

Article

Christopher Williams

scholar and activist, was born John Henry Clark in Union Springs, Alabama, the first of five children to John Clark and Willella (Willie) Mays, sharecroppers. Later Clarke changed the spelling of his name, dropping the “y” in Henry and replacing it with “ik” after the Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen. He also added an “e” at the end of Clarke.

Clarke s great grandmother Mary who lived to be 108 inspired him to study history The young Clarke sat on her lap listening to stories and it was through her he later said that he first became aware of the word Africa Clarke grew up in the Baptist church and wanted to satisfy his intellectual curiosity regarding the Bible and its relationship to African people Like a detective he searched the Bible looking for an image of God that looked like him His dissatisfaction with what he found later ...

Article

Joycelyn K. Moody

Lucille Sayles Clifton was born in Depew, New York, to Samuel L. and Thelma Moore Sayles. Her father worked for the New York steel mills; her mother was a launderer, home-maker, and avocational poet. Although neither parent was formally educated, they provided their large family with an appreciation and an abundance of books, especially those by African Americans. At age sixteen, Lucille entered college early, matriculating as a drama major at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Her Howard associates included such intellectuals as Sterling A. Brown, A. B. Spellman, Chloe Wofford (now Toni Morrison), who later edited her writings for Random House, and Fred Clifton, whom she married in 1958.

After transferring to Fredonia State Teachers College in 1955 Clifton worked as an actor and began to cultivate in poetry the minimalist characteristics that would become her professional signature Like other prominent Black Aesthetic ...

Article

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

Shirley C. Moody

educator, author, and philanthropist, was born Camille Olivia Hanks in Washington, D.C., to Guy Hanks, a chemist who earned an MA from Fisk University, and Catherine Hanks, a nursery school owner and Howard University graduate. Camille, the eldest of four siblings, attended a series of parochial schools, starting with St. Cyprian's Elementary School in Washington, D.C. She then attended St. Cecilia Academy, also in Washington, and completed her secondary education at Ursuline Academy in Bethesda, Maryland.

Although Camille Hanks had displayed an earlier interest in biology, Latin, and algebra, when she entered the University of Maryland at the age of eighteen she decided to major in psychology. During her sophomore year she was introduced to a twenty-six year old up-and-coming comedian named Bill Cosby. On their second date the young comedian proposed, and the couple was married ten months later, on 25 January 1964 About this same time ...