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Adebe DeRango-Adem

was born Barbara Theresa Christian in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, one of six children of Alphonso Christian, a judge, and Ruth (maiden name unknown).

Christian was admitted to Marquette University in Wisconsin at the age of fifteen, graduating cum laude with a B.A. in 1963. She chose to continue studying literature at Columbia University in New York City, in part because of its proximity to Harlem and resonance with the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance writers, who were still largely foreign to the American literary canon during her term of study. Harlem was also a fertile center for political activism in the 1960s civil rights era and central to the creation of a new black intellectual elite whose activities centered around the bookstore run by Lewis Micheaux, brother of black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. Christian was also said to have met Langston Hughes personal secretary in ...

Article

Nicole Sealey

intellectual, feminist, educator, cultural critic, social activist, and poet, was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to Veodis Watkins, a custodian, and Rosa Bell Watkins, a housekeeper. One of seven children, hooks grew up in a poor family in which poetry was a well-respected art form. On stormy nights the Watkins family would host talent shows in their living room. As a youth, hooks would recite poems by such authors as Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson. By the age of ten, hooks was already writing and reading her own work.

Hooks attended Booker T. Washington Elementary, a segregated black school. Her teachers, mostly single black women, nurtured and fostered her young mind. With the integration of public schools in the 1960s, however, black students were bused to white schools. Hooks soon learned that the white teachers at Crispus Attucks ...

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Mary Krane Derr

poet, writer, and educator, was born Carolyn Marie Rodgers in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest child of Clarence Rodgers, welder, and Bazella Cato Colding Rodgers, homemaker. Rodgers was one of four children, including two sisters and a brother. The family had migrated from Little Rock, Arkansas, and settled in Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. Rodgers's parents encouraged their children to read and involved them in the local African Methodist Episcopal Church. After graduating from Hyde Park High School, Rodgers attended Roosevelt University in Chicago, but left around 1965, one course short of her B.A. She earned her B.A. in English from Chicago State University in 1981 and her M.A. in the same subject from the same institution in 1984.

Rodgers found her literary voice through the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and early 1970s She was an original member of the Organization ...

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Nicole Sealey

civil rights activist, educator, poet, literary critic, scholar, and writer, was born Gloria Jean Wade in Memphis, Tennessee, the older of two daughters born to Robert Wade, a gifted storyteller and Pullman porter, and Bertha Reese Willett. Though raised in the segregated South, Wade found a source of pride, courage, and comfort in the insulated African American community. Her mother, a former high-school valedictorian, understood the power of knowledge. The Wade home was replete with books on a variety of subjects. Bertha Wade would often engage her daughters on a range of topics, from politics to theology. Determined that her children succeed, she encouraged her daughters to academically excel in spite of a segregated school system. Like Bertha Reese Willett, Robert Wade stressed the importance of education Though the pair were never married and separated when Wade was a young child ...

Article

Pamala S. Deane

educator, literary critic, and anthologist, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Mary Catherine Dalton, a homemaker and mother of eight children, and David C. Washington, a bank guard at Cleveland National Bank. In 1962 she earned a BA from Notre Dame College, and she was a public school teacher of English from 1962 to 1964 before earning an MA in 1966 from the University of Detroit in Michigan.

Washington served as an instructor at St. John College of Cleveland from 1966 to 1968. She received her PhD from the University of Detroit in 1976, and was an assistant professor there from 1972 to 1977 and an associate professor from 1977 to 1979. At Detroit, she served as director of the Center for Black Studies. From 1980 to 1988 Washington was an associate professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston in ...