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William David Barry

nursing administrator, who as a teenager in 1952 caused racial integration of a Washington, DC, public accommodation, was born in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Emory C. Dodge Sr. and Irene Isabel Eastman. Her father, a native of Kenosha, Wisconsin, served in the Canadian Army and the U.S. Navy before settling in Portland, Maine, where he was employed in local hotels and at the Maine Medical Center. Emory Sr. married Irene Eastman, a member of a long-established black Maine family, on 18 October 1928. They raised two children on Anderson Street in Portland's ethnically mixed Munjoy Hill neighborhood. As a young woman Beverly took a particular interest in family history, especially through a cousin Mary E. Barnett who had preserved letters and documents that would eventually lead Beverly back to the family s origins in Demerara Guyana and the Netherlands during the 1700s Further more ...

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Ruth E. Martin

civil rights activist and nurse's aide, was born Claudette Austin in Birmingham, Alabama. The daughter of Mary Jane Gadson and C. P. Austin, she was raised by her great-aunt and great-uncle, Mary Ann Colvin and Q. P. Colvin, the former a maid and the latter a “yard boy,” or outdoor domestic.

When Colvin was eight, she and her guardians moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where she attended Booker T. Washington High School. In February 1955 her classes were devoted to “Negro History month,” with a focus on current racial injustice in Montgomery. On her way home from school on 2 March 1955 she sat in the rear of the bus far behind the ten seats that were automatically reserved for whites A 1900 Montgomery city ordinance stipulated that conductors were given the power to assign seats in order to ensure racial segregation but that no passengers would ...

Article

Christopher J. Neumann

autobiographer and black women's rights activist, was born Jane Edna Harris in Pendleton, South Carolina, the daughter of Edward Harris and Harriet Millner, sharecroppers. Following her father's death due to jaundice when she was ten years old, Jane and her three siblings were distributed briefly among the homes of various relatives. His death and the ensuing dispersal of her nuclear family were especially difficult for Jane, in part because she had customarily been “father's ally in his differences with mother” (A Nickel, 12) but also because she now had to forgo formal schooling to earn her keep in Anderson, South Carolina, as a live-in nursemaid and cook. Although treated so poorly by her mistress that white and black neighbors alike protested, she was taught to read and write by the eldest daughter.

Harris entered Ferguson Academy (later Ferguson-Williams College) in 1896 graduating four years later ...

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Mona E. Jackson

Named by Ebony magazine in 2001 as one of the ten most powerful black women in America, Eddie Bernice Johnson became the first African American woman to represent the Dallas, Texas, area in the U.S. Congress in 1992. With a passion for justice and the courage to speak her mind, Johnson has been a leader in championing legislation designed to empower low-income communities. As a member of the House of Representatives, Johnson has taken pride in transcending the actions of the average politician: “The average politician, in my judgment, just wants to get along. Getting along is important, but it’s not a number one thing for me. I believe in saying what I mean and meaning what I say.”

Eddie Bernice Johnson was born in Waco, Texas, to Edward Johnson and Lillie Mae White Johnson After finishing high school she attended St Mary s at Notre Dame ...

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 ...