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Sherri J. Norris

chemical engineer and environmental engineering entrepreneur, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the second of four daughters of Ernest Buford Abron and Bernice Wise Abron, both educators. Abron was educated in Memphis public schools and was a member of the National Honor Society. Abron divorced and had three sons, Frederick, Ernest, and David; she is occasionally credited as Lilia Ann Abron-Robinson.

Abron stayed close to home when she attended LeMoyne College, a historically black college in Memphis, Tennessee. She considered medical school, but she was persuaded by her advisor, Dr. Beuler, to pursue a career in engineering instead. Her decision was a risky one. She did not know of any African Americans with engineering degrees who were actually working as engineers; instead, she once said in an interview, they were often working in post offices. In 1966 Abron received her BS in Chemistry from ...

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Rita Kohn

designer, businesswoman, and civic leader, was born Alpha Coles in Lynchburg, Virginia, the youngest of eight children of Alphonso Carroll Coles and Minnie Pugh Coles. Growing up, Blackburn attended a segregated school system, and went on to win a scholarship to Howard University, from which she graduated with honors, attaining a bachelor of arts in Design and a master of fine arts in painting and Art History. In 1964 she moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband, Walter Scott Blackburn, who had completed his degree in architecture at Howard. She commenced work as a freelance designer of clothing and interiors.

Blackburn's petite figure and radiant good looks created opportunities for her to model, and she accepted a steady job at the prestigious L. S. Ayres & Company in downtown Indianapolis. Concurrently, she hosted a half‐hour daily talk show from 1972 to 1978, Indy Today on WISH ...

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Tom J. Ward

physician and businessman, was born in New Roads, Louisiana, the second of the seven children of George Frederick and Armantine (maiden name unknown) of Point Coupeé Parish, Louisiana. Frederick received his early education at the plantation school run by the wife of Louis F. Drouillard, the landlord for whom his parents were sharecroppers. In 1890 Frederick left Point Coupeé for New Orleans, where he enrolled at Straight University. He graduated in 1894, then enrolled at the New Orleans Medical College. Because he would not have been able to study in any of the city's hospitals because of his race, Frederick did not complete his medical education in New Orleans; instead, he left for Chicago in 1896 and enrolled at the College of Physicians and Surgeons In Chicago he had the benefit of clinical training at Cook County Hospital Frederick received his MD from the College of ...

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David T. Beito

physician, civil rights leader, and entrepreneur, was born Theodore Roosevelt Howard in the town of Murray, Calloway County, Kentucky, to Arthur Howard, a tobacco twister, and Mary Chandler, a cook for Will Mason, a prominent local white doctor and member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA). Mason took note of the boy's work habits, talent, ambition, and charm. He put him to work in his hospital and eventually paid for much of his medical education. Howard later showed his gratitude by adding “Mason” as a second middle name.

Theodore Howard attended three SDA colleges: the all-black Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama; the predominantly white Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska; and the College of Medical Evangelists in Loma Linda, California. While at Union College he won the American Anti-Saloon League's national contest for best orator in 1930.

During his years in medical school in ...

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Mary Krane Derr

physician and community leader, was born Edith Mae Irby in Conway, Arkansas, to Mattie Irby, a domestic worker, and her husband Robert, a sharecropper. Several childhood experiences—some traumatic—shaped Edith's early choice of medicine as her profession and the relief of racial health disparities as her special focus. When she was only five, an illness rendered her unable to walk for eighteen months. At six she lost her thirteen-year-old sister and almost lost an older brother in a typhoid fever epidemic. She noticed that people who could afford more medical care fared better with the disease. When she was eight a horse-riding accident fatally injured her father.

The year of her father s death a white doctor and his family hired Edith to help care for their eighteen month old child They told Edith that she was highly intelligent and encouraged her to consider a medical career Members ...

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Pamela C. Edwards

entrepreneur, inventor, and activist, was born in Monterey, Virginia, to George Emmanuel Stewart, a teacher, and Annie Dougherty Stewart, a housewife. The couple had thirteen children, but only four daughters lived beyond infancy. After relocating their family to Dayton, Ohio, Stewart's parents divorced and, in 1912, she moved to Chicago to live with her mother. In Chicago, Stewart attended Edgewood High School, worked temporary jobs, and, on 4 April 1916, she married Dr. Robert Joyner, a podiatrist from Memphis, Tennessee. The couple had two daughters: Anne Joyner Fook and Barbara Joyner Powell, who both became educators. At some point during her early Chicago years, Stewart made the decision to become a beautician and that decision would shape her future.

Joyner became the first black graduate of the A.B. Molar Beauty School in 1916 and she opened her own beauty shop ...

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Jeannette Elizabeth Brown

chemist and corporate leader, was born in Pavo, Georgia, the second of three daughters of Willie Clark and Ola Watts Campbell. Her mother Ola had a third-grade education, and her father Willie was illiterate. Reatha was raised in Moltrie, Georgia, by her mother and aunt after her parents separated when she was young. She had to pick cotton and do the heavy fieldwork that was the typical life in the 1940s for poor sharecroppers' children. African American girls in the rural segregated South had few role models, but she received strong encouragement from her family and community to use her academic ability to overcome social disadvantages.

Clark started school at the age of four in the one room schoolhouse at Mount Zion Baptist Church Clark attended the segregated Moultrie High School for Negro Youth A teacher there encouraged her love of math and science even though the school ...

Article

Nazneen Ahmed

Alias of Azaj Warqnah Ishete (1865–1952), Ethiopia's first modern‐trained physician and Ethiopian Minister to London at the time of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Born in Gondar, at the age of 3 Ishete was abandoned by his family during the capture of the fortress of Magada in 1868. Two British officers took him to India, assumed responsibility for his education, and christened him Charles Martin. Martin graduated from Lahore Medical College in 1882, becoming a medical officer in Burma in 1891. He was reunited with his family and his Ethiopian name on his visit to Addis Ababa in 1899. On another trip in 1908 as temporary medical officer in the British legation he treated the ailing Emperor Menilek. In 1919 he returned to Ethiopia to settle practising medicine and undertaking various forms of development work including the founding ...

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Jeri Chase Ferris

slave, nurse, landowner, and philanthropist, was born a slave in Hancock County, Georgia, of unknown parents. Though her slave name was Bridget, she was almost always called Biddy, and not until she achieved her freedom in Los Angeles, California, in 1865 did she take the surname Mason. It is not definitively known why she chose “Mason,” although Amasa Mason Lyman was the company captain on Biddy Mason's journey from Mississippi to Salt Lake City, and later to San Bernardino. Biddy was an infant when she was given or sold to the John Smithson family of Mississippi, to whom she belonged until she was eighteen. Smithson then gave her, along with two other slaves, as a wedding present to his cousin Rebecca when she married Robert M. Smith Biddy Mason s new duties included nursing care of the frail Rebecca Smith and the making ...

Article

Robert G. McGuire

The son of Charles E. and Alicia (Martin) Petioni, Charles Augustin Petioni was born on August 27, 1885, in Trinidad, where he was educated and began a career in business and journalism. In 1913 he married Rosa Alling. They had two daughters, Margaret (who died before 1950) and Muriel. In 1918 the colonial government of Trinidad sent word to him that his outspoken views about local political and economic conditions had permanently damaged future career opportunities for himself and his family. For that reason he departed for New York, where he worked as a manual laborer during the day and attended the City College of New York at night. Upon completion of the premedical course at City College, he entered Howard University College of Medicine, from which he graduated in 1925 After an internship at St Agnes Hospital in Raleigh North Carolina he returned ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

journalist, physician, business and civic leader, and Caribbean independence activist, was born to the reformer Charles Edgar Petioni and Alicia Martin Petioni in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, British-occupied West Indies. Charles Augustin Petioni graduated from the Boys' Model School, the Government College for Teachers (1900), and the Royal Victoria Institute (Commercial Business Course, 1902). Between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three he was employed as clerk and manager for Felix Potin and Company, a French distributor of specialty foods such as chocolates. He then distinguished himself as chief reporter and sub-editor of Port-of-Spain's Daily Morning Mirror (1908–1916) and editor of the bilingual (Spanish-English) Daily Evening Argos (1917–1918). He also served as an official government reporter for Trinidad's Supreme Court and Legislative Council.

As a journalist Petioni critiqued British rule He took further anticolonial action as founder and officer of the Metropolitan ...

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Leslie Hadfield

political activist, medical doctor, academic, and businesswoman, was born on 28 December 1947 the third child of two Sotho primary school teachers in the Bochum district of South Africa s Limpopo province then the Transvaal Her father Pitsi Eliphaz Ramphele was the son of a trained evangelist or priest of the Dutch Reformed Church He met his wife Rangoato Rahab Mahlaela at the Bethesda Normal College where they both trained as teachers The two teachers provided a relatively comfortable life for their family and urged their children to succeed academically Ramphele learned from her mother and grandmothers of the strength of women through their strong work ethics and challenges to patriarchal traditions Ramphele was given the name Mamphela Aletta after her maternal grandmother Ramphele was born one year before the white Afrikaner Nationalist Party gained political power in South Africa and began to implement apartheid a set of policies ...

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Roger Pfister

South African business tycoon, was born on 4 October 1916 in Graaf-Reinet. From modest beginnings, born into a Boer lawyer’s family in the rural Eastern Cape Province, Rupert took up studies in medicine in Pretoria, which he did not complete. However, thereafter he concluded his chemistry studies with a master’s degree at the University of Pretoria, where he subsequently lectured for a short period.

Rupert then moved to Stellenbosch which is well known for its wine estates Together with his family two sons one daughter and remaining true to his Afrikaner roots Rupert was to stay in this Afrikaans dominated village near the predominantly English speaking Cape Town until his death There he also laid the foundations for what was to become a tobacco and industrial empire At the time the country s economy was characterized by a disjuncture between Afrikaner and English speaking business Traditionally Afrikaner economic activity was ...

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Kristal Brent Zook

pioneering pharmacist, entrepreneur, and clubwoman, was born near Berryville, Virginia. Her parents, Eliza and Hamp Phillips, were sharecroppers, but the family's lack of financial resources did not stand in the way of their daughter's academic success. Phillips was an outstanding student who won five scholarships at Storer College in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, where she enrolled at age twelve. After graduation, at age seventeen, she married her classmate Charles Myers, and soon gave birth to a daughter, who died at the age of two.

The couple divorced following the death of their child, and Ella Phillips went to work as a bookkeeper in a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, drugstore. Although some of her friends discouraged her, saying it had never been done by a black woman, she dreamed of attending pharmacy school. She was encouraged by a local physician who befriended her, and in 1916 she ...