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Amilcar Priestley

was born in St. Lucy, Barbados, on 15 November 1916. She was the second child and eldest daughter of her parents’ five children. Her father was the Reverend Reginald Barrow, a controversial Anglican priest who gave sermons against racism and social stratification, which resulted in his dismissal from his post in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Her mother was Ruth O’Neal Barrow, sister of Dr. Charles Duncan O’Neal, who was the founder of the Democratic League and is regarded as a national hero of Barbados. After attending primary school in St. Croix, where her father had a congregation, she entered St. Michael’s Girls’ School in Barbados—the island’s first high school to accept girls—in 1928. After graduating in 1934 she began a career in nursing first at the Barbados General Hospital then as a midwife at Port of Spain General Hospital in Trinidad and later as ...

Article

Hassoum Ceesay

Gambian politician, women's rights activist, playwright, and nurse, was born in May 1924 in Banjul, Gambia, to Sir John Mahoney, the first Speaker of the Gambian Legislature, and Lady Hannah Mahoney, a typist. She attended St Joseph's Convent and the Methodist Girls’ High School in Banjul, where she sat her Cambridge School Leaving Certificate Examination in 1942.

From 1942 to 1946 she worked as a nurse assistant at the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) in Banjul, before traveling to England in 1946 to study medicine at the Royal Infirmary, Bristol, where she obtained her State Registered Nurse (SRN) certificate in 1953. On returning to Gambia, she was posted as a nursing sister to Basse, 400 kilometers from Bathurst, where she met and married Dawda Kairaba Jawara. Their marriage at Basse in February 1955 was described in the Bathurst press as a unique occasion which ...

Article

Cotdell Tuning

nurse and anti-fascist activist in Civil War Spain, was born Salaria Kea in Milledgeville, Georgia, but sometimes she cited her birthplace as Akron, Ohio. Salaria's parents’ names are not recorded, but when she was six months old her father, an attendant and gardener at a state hospital for the mentally ill, was killed by a patient. Her mother then moved her four young children to Akron, Ohio to be near family and friends. Within two years the mother returned to Georgia to remarry, leaving Salaria and her brothers, Andrew, Arthur, and George, to be raised by friends, a couple named Jackson, in Akron. The working-class family, which included the four Kea children and five Jackson children, struggled to get by on the meager tips earned by Salaria's adoptive father, a bellhop at the Akron Country Club.

Inspired by her summer work in the office of one of the city s ...

Article

Susan M. Reverby

After a lifetime of labor militancy and commitment, Lillian Davis Roberts at seventy-two was not meant for retirement, volunteer work, and trips to Atlantic City with her friends. Roberts was called when her New York union, District Council (DC) 37 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), was coming out of receivership after corruption and vote fraud had rocked the union’s highest levels. In 2000, she became a consultant to the union. On 26 February 2002 she was elected the union’s executive director.

Such leadership was not new for Roberts. More than twenty years earlier, on 9 January 1981, New York governor Hugh Carey had proclaimed Lillian Roberts Day in tribute to the labor leader s importance to the political and economic struggles of working people Then DC 37 s associate director Roberts had been at the forefront of labor battles for decades ...

Article

Gerald S. Henig

nurse, physician, and educational activist, was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio, the youngest of four children of Augustus “Gus” Simmons, a farmer, and Ella Sophia Cooper Simmons, a practical nurse. As part of the fledgling black middle class of early twentieth century America, Gus and Ella Simmons provided a financially secure and happy environment for their children. Looking back, Dr. Simmons had only pleasant memories of her early years, memories of extended family gatherings, learning to play the piano, friendships, hay rides, and dating one of the few black students at the high school (African Americans made up only 2 percent of Mount Vernon's population and 3 percent statewide).

An outstanding student with a special talent for the sciences, Simmons decided to follow in her mother's footsteps and pursue a career in nursing. In 1936 after graduating in the top 3 percent of her ...

Article

Ellen Baskin

nurse, organization executive, and reproductive and women's rights activist, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the only child of George and Ozie Wattleton Wattleton s mother was a charismatic preacher who traveled the revival circuit for the fundamentalist Church of God As a result her father worked at an ever changing series of construction and factory jobs and Wattleton often lived with church members during the school year while her parents were on the road Wattleton s childhood experiences of traveling with her parents taught her a great deal about the second class status held by black Americans in the 1940s and 1950s But she also learned important lessons about standing up for herself One example she always remembered was that when her father stopped for gas in the South he would ask the attendant if they had toilet facilities for blacks If the attendant said they ...

Article

Kim Miller

Cameroonian nurse, politician, and writer of fiction, was born in Lomie, Cameroon, in 1935. She attended the Douala secondary school for girls until 1955. Tsogo then moved to Toulouse, France, where she earned a nursing diploma. In 1960 she returned to Cameroon where she worked as a nurse in several different hospitals. She has three daughters.

Her medical work coincided with a notable political career, and Tsogo was one of the first African women to reach some of the top positions in politics. She rose to power in large part because of her work in women’s associations and her unwavering commitment to working on women’s issues. In 1964, Tsogo was elected as the national president of the Council of Cameroonian Women, a position she held until 1985. She became a member of Parliament in 1965 and held that position until 1972 She was the first ...