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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 ...

Article

Lawrie Balfour

The son of a Baptist minister from Barbados and a Virginia schoolteacher, John Gibbs St. Clair Drake grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Staunton, Virginia. As a student at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia from 1927 to 1931, he majored in biology, but his study of anthropology with Professor W. Allison Davis defined Drake's future.

After graduating Hampton, Drake worked as a high school teacher in rural Virginia and continued his interest in anthropology. His contributions to a social survey of life in a Mississippi town were published as part of Davis's study titled Deep South: A Social Anthropological Study of Caste and Class (1941). Drake also became involved in the peace movement, spending his summers with Quaker activists. Reflecting on the “peace caravan” that took him and other demonstrators through the South during the summer of 1931 Drake commented that he just ...

Article

Frank A. Salamone

anthropologist, was born John Gibbs St. Clair Drake Jr. in Suffolk, Virginia, the son of John Gibbs St. Clair Drake Sr., a Baptist pastor, and Bessie Lee Bowles. By the time Drake was four years old his father had moved the family twice, once to Harrisonburg, Virginia, and then to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The family lived in a racially mixed neighborhood in Pittsburgh, where Drake grew to feel at ease with whites. His strict Baptist upbringing gave him a deep understanding of religious organizations. His father also taught him to work with tools and to become an expert in woodworking, a skill Drake later employed in his field research.

A trip to the West Indies in 1922 with his father led to major changes in Drake s life The Reverend Drake had tried to instill in his son a deep respect for the British Empire but the ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

community activist, social service worker, and history conserver, was born Alfreda Marguerita Barnett in Chicago, Illinois. She was the youngest child of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the journalist, suffragist, and anti-lynching crusader, and Ferdinand Barnett, the attorney, civil rights activist, and founder of Chicago's first black newspaper. Along with her three full siblings—Ida, Herman, and Charles Aked—Alfreda had two half-brothers, Albert and Ferdinand Jr., from her father's first marriage. Duster recalled her childhood as happy and both her parents as kind, dedicated people of integrity. She described her father as gentle and quiet, her mother as outspoken and firm. Other activists like Carter G. Woodson, William Monroe Trotter, and Hallie Quinn Brown regularly visited the Barnett home.

The Barnetts lived in a largely middle class interracial sometimes racially tense area on Chicago s South Side A bright student who handled herself confidently among ...

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Lawrie Balfour

Taught from an early age that education was the key to both personal success and social justice, E. Franklin Frazier used his learning as a weapon during his lifelong battle against racial inequality. In a tribute to Frazier, the Journal of Negro Education called him “a nonconformist, a protester, a gadfly.” He attacked the pretension of the black middle class and went to jail for picketing D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, a film that perpetuated demeaning stereotypes of African Americans. Frazier publicly defended W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson, although by doing so he risked being branded a Communist.

Frazier grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., on scholarship. Shortly after graduating from Howard with honors in 1916 he began his career as a professor Despite teaching commitments throughout the 1920s and 1930s Frazier earned a master ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Gilberto Freyre was born into an upper-class family in Brazil's northeastern state of Pernambuco. The son of a law professor, he was educated in his hometown, Recife, and studied social and political sciences at Baylor University in Texas and Columbia University in New York. At Columbia, Freyre was influenced by the pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas, who led the academic challenge against theories of racial determinism. After a brief imprisonment in 1930 on federal charges that he was “a leftist agitator,” Freyre traveled to Portugal and then back to the United States, where he taught a course on the development of Brazilian society at Stanford University. This led to his most famous book, Casa grande e senzala, published in 1933 (The Masters and the Slaves, 1946). In 1934 he helped organize the Primeiro Congresso Afro-Brasileiro First Afro Brazilian Congress in Recife A political conservative Freyre served ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

Born to former slaves in Lowndes County, Alabama, Elizabeth Ross Haynes became a pioneering urban sociologist. Haynes graduated valedictorian of the State Normal School (now Alabama State University) in 1900. She received an A.B. from Fisk University in 1903, and later received an M.A. in sociology from Columbia University in 1923.

After graduation from Fisk, Haynes taught school and worked for segregated branches of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). In 1910, she married George Haynes, a sociologist and cofounder of the National Urban League; their son was born in 1912. After her marriage, Haynes continued to work in unsalaried positions.

From 1918 to 1922, Haynes worked for the U.S. Department of Labor, and from 1920 to 1922 she served as domestic service secretary for the U S Employment Service Throughout her career Haynes was especially concerned with black women ...

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LaNesha NeGale DeBardelaben

educator and author, was born in Flat Creek, Kentucky, the younger of two children of William Morton, a grocer and small truck-business owner, and Susie Anna Stewart Morton, a schoolteacher. Shortly after her birth, Morton's family relocated near Lexington, Kentucky. Her early childhood was defined by several moves between Lexington and various small towns in Kentucky; the family finally settled in Winchester, Kentucky, a community of approximately eight thousand people.

Morton's maternal grandfather, the Reverend H. A. Stewart, was the minister in the local Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. The Reverend Stewart, born enslaved in 1846 played a monumental role in guiding Morton s development and he challenged her to think critically independently and to pursue all things with excellence As a result Morton excelled academically in the all black schools of Winchester including the high school which lacked the resources to matriculate students or award ...

Article

Carolyn Wedin

white settlement-house worker, journalist, author, and NAACP cofounder, chair (1919–1932), and treasurer (1932–1947). Born in Brooklyn Heights, New York, Mary White Ovington was the third child of four of Theodore and Louise Ketcham Ovington. With his brother, her father founded and grew the Ovington Brothers gift shops, which provided a comfortable living when economic times were good but which suffered fires and bankruptcy when depressions hit, as in 1893 when Mary had to leave what was then called the Harvard Annex (later Radcliffe College) without obtaining a degree.

To her Unitarian upbringing Ovington credited her lifelong determination to base actions on fact and reason rather than emotion As the only unmarried of three daughters she fought against the expectation that she would stay home to take care of her aging parents but she also was unsuited to the teaching or nursing roles available to women of ...

Article

Karen Beasley Young

television and radio personality, political commentator, author, and social advocate, was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, the eldest of ten children, four of whom were adopted, to Emory G. Smiley, a noncommissioned officer in the United States Air Force, and Joyce M. Smiley, a missionary and apostolic Pentecostal minister. Smiley grew up in the Kokomo, Indiana, area and attended Indiana University in Bloomington. He was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and graduated in 1986 with a degree in law and public policy. While he was at Indiana University, a close friend of Smiley's was killed by local police, who claimed to have done so in self-defense. This act of violence changed the course of Smiley's life, and he began to lead protests against the police in defense of his friend, which set Smiley on a path of social advocacy.

During Smiley s ...