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Article

Karen Buhler-Wilkerson and Sarah A. Johnson

By any standard, Anna De Costa Banks was an exceptional nurse. Raised and educated in Charleston, South Carolina, Banks graduated from Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1891. She then attended the newly chartered Hampton Hospital and Training School for Nurses, graduating in its first class in 1893. She later recounted in letters to her mentors that the training she received at Hampton had shaped her whole life. Having received special funds to attend Hampton, Banks felt an obligation to work on behalf of the black community that had supported her.

Returning to Charleston, Banks became head nurse of the Hospital and Training School for Nurses when it opened in 1896 Committed to meeting the health care needs of the black community these institutions were also created in response to the denial of staff privileges to black physicians and the exclusion of black women from admission to the ...

Article

Monika R. Alston

U.S. congresswoman, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, where she lived from childhood through her high school years. Brown has not made much information about her early years, her parents, or her personal life known. In 1965 she gave birth to her only daughter, Shantrel, the same year she began college. Brown received a BS in 1969 and a master's degree in Education in 1971 from Florida A&M University. She earned an education specialist degree from the University of Florida in 1974. From 1977 to 1982 Brown worked as a faculty member and guidance counselor at Florida Community College in Jacksonville.As a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. at Florida A&M, Brown became close friends with her sorority sister Gwendolyn Sawyer-Cherry, who was the first African American woman to serve in the Florida state legislature. Sawyer-Cherry influenced Brown to enter politics and after Brown lost her ...

Article

Linda O. McMurry

scientist and educator, was born in Diamond (formerly Diamond Grove), Missouri, the son of Mary Carver, who was the slave of Moses and Susan Carver. His father was said to have been a slave on a neighboring farm who was accidentally killed before Carver's birth. Slave raiders allegedly kidnapped his mother and older sister while he was very young, and he and his older brother were raised by the Carvers on their small farm.

Barred from the local school because of his color, Carver was sent to nearby Neosho in the mid-1870s to enter school. Having been privately tutored earlier, he soon learned that his teacher knew little more than he did, so he caught a ride with a family moving to Fort Scott, Kansas. Until 1890 Carver roamed around Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa seeking an education while supporting himself doing laundry, cooking, and homesteading.

In 1890 Carver ...

Article

Carolyn Wedin

naturalist, agricultural chemurgist, and educator. With arguably the most recognized name among black people in American history, George Washington Carver's image is due in part to his exceptional character, mission, and achievements; in part to the story he wanted told; and in part to the innumerable books, articles, hagiographies, exhibits, trade fairs, memorials, plays, and musicals that have made him a symbol of rags-to-riches American enterprise. His image has been used for postage stamps, his name has been inscribed on bridges and a nuclear submarine, and he even has his own day (5 January), designated by the United States Congress in 1946.

Thanks in large part to Linda O. McMurry's 1981 book, George Washington Carver: Scientist and Symbol it is now possible to separate legend from fact and discover the remarkable child youth and man behind the peanut McMurry concludes that Carver ...

Article

Sharla M. Fett

The history of African American women’s childbearing is one of cultural resilience and profound structural oppression. Far more than a mere biological event, childbirth has been an important social and religious experience in African American communities. At the same time, slavery, poverty, and discrimination have strongly shaped the social realities of childbearing for many black women. Despite important changes in birth practices over the last three centuries, the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth continue to be closely connected to the broader political and economic struggles of African American women.

From the many cultures of West and Central Africa captive women carried their understandings of birth into the slave societies of the New World Though widely varied African gender systems emphasized the importance of motherhood and fertility to women s social identity and family lineage Captivity by slave traders brought African social institutions of childbirth into a collision with slavery s ...

Article

Robert C. Hayden

physician and cancer researcher, was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the daughter of William Lafayette Chinn, a former slave who had escaped to the North from a Virginia plantation, and Lulu Ann Evans, a domestic worker. William Chinn had unsteady employment because of racial discrimination but occasionally worked at odd jobs and as a porter Raised in New York City May Chinn was educated in the city s public schools and at the Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School N J and she attended Morris High School in New York A severe bout with osteomyelitis of the jaw plagued her as a child and required extensive medical treatment Though her family s poverty forced her to drop out of high school in the eleventh grade for a factory job she scored high enough on the entrance examination for Teachers College at Columbia University a year later to ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

psychologist, was born in the Panama Canal Zone, the son of the Jamaican immigrants Miriam Hanson Clark and Arthur Bancroft Clark. In 1919, Miriam left her husband and brought Kenneth and his sister Beulah to New York City. He attended public schools in Harlem, which were fully integrated when he entered the first grade, but were almost wholly black by the time he finished sixth grade. Kenneth's mother, an active follower of Marcus Garvey, encouraged her son's interest in black history and his academic leanings, and confronted his guidance teacher for recommending that Kenneth attend a vocational high school. A determined woman, active in the garment workers’ union, Miriam Clark persuaded the authorities to send Kenneth to George Washington High, a school with a reputation for academic excellence. In 1931 he won a scholarship to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Clark attended Howard at time of ...

Article

Caroline DeVoe

businessman, landowner, farmer, and lynching victim, was born into slavery in Abbeville, South Carolina, the youngest son of Thomas and Louisa, slaves on the plantation of Ben Crawford in Abbeville, South Carolina. After Emancipation and Ben Crawford's death, his widow Rebecca may have bequeathed land to her former slave, Thomas, Anthony's father. Thomas continued to acquire land, and in 1873 he purchased 181 acres of fertile land from Samuel McGowan, a former Confederate general and South Carolina Supreme Court Justice. Thomas Crawford's “homeplace” was located in an alluvial valley, approximately seven miles west of the town of Abbeville. The rich land was flanked on the east by Little River and on the west by Penny Creek.

While Crawford's brothers worked the family farm Anthony was sent to school walking seven miles to and from school each day Seventeen year old Anthony was ...

Article

Roland Barksdale-Hall

civil engineer, educator, and inventor, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the fifth of eight children of Edward Dammond, a sailor and porter, and Lucy Dorsey. Edward Dammond served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War. The fastidious Lucy Dammond was a dedicated deaconess at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the first AME church west of the Allegheny Mountains. William Dammond likewise benefited from the AME church connections and an exacting nature.

Dammond was recognized for mathematical skill, enrolled in the Park Institute, a preparatory school, and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in June 1893 He was the first African American graduate from the University of Pittsburgh and one of few African American civil engineers in America During the late nineteenth century civil engineers were at the forefront of innovative technology and structural advancements such ...

Article

Timothy Konhaus

However, because of his vehement political and social critiques of the United States, Delany is often relegated to the shadows of his contemporary, Frederick Douglass. Like Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois in the early twentieth century, Delany and Douglass represent a point-counterpoint in American history. Unlike Washington and Du Bois, however, Delany and Douglass were at times business partners and friends despite their conflicting social views.

Delany was born in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1812, the son of Pati Peace, a free black woman, and Samuel Delany, a slave father. In 1822 his family moved north to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. In 1831 Delany went to Pittsburgh to study under the Reverend Lewis Woodson, an ardent black separatist. Delany also began studying medicine under the direction of several Pittsburgh doctors while serving as a cupper and bleeder.

In 1843 Delany began ...

Article

Spencie Love

blood plasma scientist, surgeon, and teacher, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Richard Thomas Drew, a carpet-layer, and Nora Rosella Burrell. Drew adored his hard-working parents and was determined from an early age to emulate them. Drew's parents surrounded their children with the many opportunities available in Washington's growing middle-class black community: excellent segregated schools, solid church and social affiliations, and their own strong example. Drew's father was the sole black member of his union and served as its financial secretary.

Drew graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in 1922 and received a medal for best all around athletic performance he also won a scholarship to Amherst College At Amherst he was a star in football and track earning honorable mention as an All American halfback in the eastern division receiving the Howard Hill Mossman Trophy for bringing the greatest athletic ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann

physician and activist, was born Lena Frances Edwards in Washington, D.C., the youngest of three children of Thomas Edwards, a professor of dentistry at Howard University, and Marie Coakley. Dissuaded from becoming a dentist by her father, the young Lena instead set her heart on a medical career. She graduated from Dunbar High School as valedictorian in 1918 and enrolled at Howard University. Her plans were nearly derailed when she fell victim to Spanish influenza during the deadly epidemic of 1918. Edwards managed to sufficiently recover to quickly resume her studies. The experience of narrowly escaping the “purple death” may have influenced Edwards to cram as much as possible into every hour of every day remaining to her. She took summer classes at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a bachelor's of science from Howard in June 1921 after only three years of study Accepted ...

Article

Susan L. Smith

physician and social reformer, was born Dorothy Celeste Boulding in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of Benjamin Richard Boulding, a superintendent with the railroad mail service, and Florence Cornelia Ruffin, a teacher. She came from a well-established family in which several members were lawyers, but from childhood she wanted to be a physician. When her mother became ill, Ferebee went to live with an aunt in Boston, where she attended secondary school. She graduated from two respected Boston area institutions, Simmons College in 1920 with honors and Tufts University College of Medicine in 1924 Her accomplishments were especially notable because many educational institutions of the time discriminated against women and African Americans In her class of 137 medical students there were only five women and as Ferebee explained We women were always the last to get assignments in amphitheaters and clinics And I I was the last ...

Article

Hair  

Noliwe Rooks

For African American women, hair has long been entwined with issues of beauty, class, cultural acceptance, and citizenship. Depending on the historical period, the texture of hair may tell a story about how an African American woman feels about herself in relation to the prevailing standards of beauty; its care might provide an opportunity to become economically self-sufficient, and its styling could speak to political beliefs and ideologies. The history of African American women’s relationship to hair and beauty culture is richly complicated and reflects the complexities of African Americans’ connections to both African and African American culture. It is a relationship as old as the presence of those women in the United States, and any attempt to understand its significance must start with the arrival of African women in America.

Article

Susan J. Covert and David McBride

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the health and medical treatment of African Americans from the slavery era through the nineteenth century The first article focuses on the diseases and epidemics that affected Colonial America while the second article discusses progress in African American healthcare despite discrimination in ...

Article

Robert C. Hayden

physician and clinical pathologist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Augustus Hinton, a railroad porter, and Marie Clark; both parents were former slaves. His formal education was completed in Kansas City, Kansas, where his parents moved before his first birthday. After attending the University of Kansas from 1900 to 1902, he transferred to Harvard College, where he received a BS in 1905.Postponing a medical school education because of lack of funds, Hinton taught the basic sciences at colleges in Tennessee and Oklahoma and embryology at Meharry Medical College between 1905 and 1909. While teaching at the Agricultural and Mechanical College in Langston, Oklahoma, he met a schoolteacher, Ada Hawes, whom he married in 1909; they had two daughters. During the summers Hinton continued his studies in bacteriology and physiology at the University of Chicago.

Hinton entered Harvard Medical School ...

Article

Jessie Carney Smith

physician, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Benjamin Tucker Tanner, a successful minister and bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and editor of the Christian Recorder, and Sarah Elizabeth Miller. Among the nine Tanner children was Henry Ossawa Tanner, the first African American artist to be celebrated internationally.

Halle Tanner married Charles E. Dillon of Trenton, New Jersey, in 1886, and the next year their only child was born. While the circumstances and date of Charles; Dillon's death are unknown, afterward Dillon returned to the Tanner family home in Philadelphia with her daughter, and then, at age twenty-four, she enrolled in the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, the only black student in her class, and graduated with an MD in a class of thirty-six on 7 May 1891, with high honors.

Halle Tanner Dillon responded to Booker T Washington ...

Article

Jessie Carney Smith

“[I] try to keep before [myself] the possibility of failing but unless some harder and more complex [problem] than anything they have given me yet I feel that I can not, but, if they mark me fairly, get thro.” With this determination and self-confidence, Halle Tanner Dillon passed the state medical examinations in Alabama in 1891 and became the first woman licensed to practice medicine in the state. Her concern for social justice led her to establish a training school and dispensary at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where she became resident physician.

Halle (Hallie) Tanner was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Benjamin Tucker Tanner and Sarah Elizabeth (Miller) Tanner She was the eldest daughter of nine children two of whom died in infancy The Tanners were a prominent family whose home in Philadelphia was a rest haven for travelers and a meeting place for intellectuals including leading ...

Article

Barbara B. Tomblin

army general, nurse, and educator, was born Hazel Winifred Johnson, the daughter of Clarence L. and Garnett Johnson, in Malvern, Pennsylvania. One of seven children, she grew up in a close-knit family on a farm in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Although she was rejected from the local nursing program because of racial prejudice, Johnson persisted in her childhood dream of becoming a nurse and received a nursing diploma in 1950 from Harlem Hospital School of Nursing in New York City. Following graduation, she worked as a beginning-level staff nurse at Harlem Hospital's emergency ward and in 1953 went to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Philadelphia, quickly becoming the head nurse on a ward.

Two years later Johnson decided to join the army because she said the Army had more variety to offer and more places to go Bombard 65 She was commissioned as a second lieutenant ...

Article

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 ...