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Article

Charles E. Wynes

Alexander, Archie Alphonso (14 May 1888–04 January 1958), engineer was born in Ottumwa Iowa the son of Price Alexander a janitor and coachman and Mary Hamilton The Alexanders were members of a tiny African American minority both in the town of Archie s birth and in Des Moines Iowa where they moved when he was eleven years old In Ottumwa the Alexanders lived in the section of town inhabited by the poor both black and white in Des Moines they lived on a small farm on the outskirts of town Since Iowa s public schools were not segregated young Alexander attended school with whites graduating from Des Moines s Oak Park High School in 1905 Then uncommon for the son of a janitor whether black or white he went on to further study By working hard at part time jobs and with some help from his parents ...

Article

Thomas O. Fox and Jocelyn Spragg

scientist and educator, was born in Pennsauken, New Jersey, the second of nine children, to Howard R. Amos Sr., a Philadelphia postman, and Iola Johnson, who had been adopted by and worked for a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family who schooled her with their own children at home. This family remained lifelong friends of Iola and kept the young Amos family well supplied with books, including a biography of Louis Pasteur, which piqued Harold's interest in science in the fourth grade. Both Howard and Iola expected their children to be serious about their education and to excel academically. Harold, along with his siblings, took piano lessons and remained a competent amateur pianist. He also gained a reputation as an excellent tennis player.

Harold received his early education in a segregated school in Pennsauken then graduated first in his class from Camden High School in New Jersey He ...

Article

Crystal L. Keels

missile engineer, trailblazer, and advocate for social reform, was born in 1924 in Detroit, Michigan to parents Carrie and Chester Banfield. His grandfather Moses was born into slavery and managed to move his family up North. The family moved to Detroit from Dublin, Georgia during the Great Migration and settled in Black Bottom, near the Detroit River. Moses brought his wife, Odessa, who was half Blackfoot Indian, and their five sons and four daughters to live a better life outside of the South.

One of six siblings William Banfield s early interests included a love of learning As a child he was particularly inspired by the story of the black revolutionary Toussaint Louverture in Haiti that he read about in an adventure book Reading was an important part of his life and in grammar school he was chosen to represent his school for his work on ...

Article

South African surgeon who carried out the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant, was born into an impoverished Afrikaner family at Beaufort West, South Africa, on 8 November 1922. His father, the Reverend Adam Hendrik Barnard, was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church for Coloured, or mixed-race, people, and his mother was Maria Elisabeth de Swart. He was educated at Beaufort West High School before training as a doctor at the University of Cape Town’s medical school, where he graduated MB, ChB, in 1945. Having done his internship at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, he worked for a short time as a rural general practitioner in Ceres, in the western Cape, before returning to Cape Town to become senior medical officer at City Hospital and then registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1953 he gained his MD for his dissertation The Treatment of Tuberculosis Meningitis Later ...

Article

Benjamin Hebblethwaite

was born on 25 August 1939 in Haiti. Over the course of his career, Beauvoir contributed to the sciences, established a prominent Vodou temple and cultural organization, and published cornerstone volumes of Vodou sacred literature. His publishing solidified his status as the most influential Vodou priest of his generation. Son of one of the first black graduates from Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia, Beauvoir graduated from City University of New York with a degree in chemistry in 1958 and earned a degree in biochemistry in 1962 from the Sorbonne in Paris. As a chemist he worked at Cornell Medical Center in New York City on the synthesis of metabolic steroids; later he worked on the synthesis of hydrocortisone from plants.

In 1973, Beauvoir’s nonagenarian grandfather, an oungan (Vodou priest), designated him as the head of the family religion prior to his death. In 1974 Beauvoir and his ...

Article

Philip Alexander

physicist, educator, and academic administrator, was born in Pocahontas, Virginia, the son of Harry P. Branson, a coal miner, and Gertrude Brown. In 1928, after several years at his local elementary school, Herman enrolled at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., one of the nation's preeminent black secondary schools. He was encouraged in this move by a young black physician, William Henry Welch, who practiced in Pocahontas and who rented lodgings from young Branson's grandmother.

At Dunbar, Branson was introduced to studies in Latin, advanced mathematics, and other disciplines to which he would not have been exposed in his local high school. After graduating as valedictorian in 1932 he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh with a view to studying medicine partly because his great uncle had been trained as a physician there Branson completed the premedical program in two years and still found time ...

Article

Araceli Reynoso

was born on 2 December 1919 in Cacahuatepec, Oaxaca. His parents were Francisco José María Carrillo and Candelaria Morales, a mulata originally from Juchitán, a small town located within what is today the municipality of Azoyú in the state of Guerrero. He had three more siblings. His mother died when he was still a child, after which his father married Teodora Alarcón. Álvaro took his stepmother’s last name in recognition of the fact that she had raised him and his siblings.

Álvaro liked to say that he was oaxaqueño by birth and raised by the Costa Chica of Guerrero a region that has historically identified itself as the major African presence in Mexico Costa Chica or Small Coast covers the southern Pacific coast of Mexico beginning in Acapulco Guerrero and ending in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca Africans arrived in this area of Mexico in the middle of the sixteenth century ...

Article

Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston

Albert Cassell was born in Towson, near Baltimore, Maryland, the third child of Albert Truman and Charlotte Cassell. He finished his elementary and high school education in Baltimore and in 1919 received a B.A. degree in architecture from Cornell University, where he sang in churches to help pay his expenses. His studies were interrupted by service as a second lieutenant, training officers in heavy field artillery in the United States and France during World War I (1914–1918).

Article

Charles W. Jr. Carey

Cox, Elbert Frank (05 December 1895–28 November 1969), mathematician, was born in Evansville, Indiana, the son of Johnson D. Cox, a high school principal, and Eugenia D. Talbot. From an early age he demonstrated tremendous talent as a violinist and was offered a scholarship to study in Europe at the Prague Conservatory of Music. Instead, he opted for a career in mathematics and received an A.B. from Indiana University in 1917. He became assistant principal and mathematics teacher at Alves Street School in Henderson, Kentucky, but resigned the next year to enlist in the U.S. Army. He spent the last six months of World War I in France as a clerk and was discharged in 1919 with the rank of sergeant.

That same year Cox was appointed chairman of the Department of Natural Sciences at Shaw University in Raleigh North Carolina In 1922 he left Shaw to ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius

construction engineer in the Central African Republic (CAR), was born 17 December 1931 in Boali, a town north of Bangui known for its waterfalls and hydoelectric plants, in what is now the CAR’s Ombella Mpoko prefecture. His mother was a Banda from central Ubangi-Shari, and his father was a Gbanu, an ethnic group classified with the Gbaya-speaking peoples who constitute about one-half of the population of the CAR. Béfio is a common Gbaya name, but Béfio’s father died when he was very young and so he was raised for the most part by Banda members of his family.

After attending primary school in Boali from 1939 to 1943 and in Bangui from 1943 to 1946 and secondary school in Bangui in 1946, Dallot-Béfio became the first Central African student granted a scholarship to study in France, where he attended the Lycée de garçons in Nice from 1947 to 1952 ...

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

Ralph Sr. Reckley

Ralph Ellison is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America's most prominent literary personalities. Best known as a novelist, he was also a scholar who taught at many of America's most prestigious colleges and universities and a literary and social critic who prodded America to recognize the humanity of its minorities. And like Nick Aaron Ford, Alain Locke, Hugh M. Gloster, and other Black scholar-critics before him, he was not afraid to chide Black literary artists for not living up to their creative potential. An Uncle Tom to some, a literary father figure to others, Ralph Ellison has secured his niche in the canon of African American and American letters.

Named after another literary giant, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ralph Waldo Ellison was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on 1 March 1914. His father, Lewis Alfred Ellison originally from Abbeyville South Carolina was a ...

Article

Miriam Sawyer

Forsythe, Albert Edward (25 February 1897–04 May 1986), aviator and physician, was born in Nassau, the Bahamas, the son of Horatio Alexander Forsythe, a civil engineer, and Lillian Maud Byndloss Forsythe. When he was three, the family moved to Jamaica. His mother died of pneumonia while Forsythe was a child. His father soon remarried, eventually fathering thirteen children. The family was comfortably middle class, employing several servants. A gifted student, Forsythe attended the Titchfield School, where he excelled in mathematics. When he was fourteen, the headmaster of the school recommended that he be sent to England to complete his education. His father preferred to send him to Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, an institution founded by Booker T. Washington to educate African Americans.

Arriving in the United States Forsythe was met in Miami by relatives who cautioned him about segregation in the South Blacks could not use ...

Article

Henry A. Hill was born in St. Joseph, North Carolina. He completed a B.A. at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1936 and a Ph.D. in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1942. In 1961 he became president and founder of the ...

Article

Robert C. Hayden

William Augustus Hinton 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 B.S. 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 in 1909 ...

Article

Leila Kamali

Historian, editor, and political activist born on 10 December 1921 near Johannesburg, the child of Latvian Jews. Hirson was educated at Hebrew school in Johannesburg, and studied mathematics at the University of Witwatersrand, where he later worked as a physicist. In 1940 he joined the left‐wing Hashomer Hatzair, subsequently becoming a member of various Trotskyist groups. Between 1944 and 1946 he was a political organizer for the Workers' International League.

Hirson participated in setting up black trade unions, in extremely difficult conditions created by the Suppression of Communism Act. He became involved in the Non‐European Unity Movement, and in the late 1950s joined the Congress of Democrats, the white arm of the ANC‐led Congress Alliance.

After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 Hirson and his colleagues highly critical of the Congress Alliance s leadership and policies organized the National Committee for Liberation which advocated sabotage as a substitute for peaceful ...

Article

Sheryl Huggins Salomon

technology entrepreneur, was CEO and founder of RMS Technologies, an information technology firm that was listed among the largest black-owned businesses in America during the 1990s. He was born 12 November 1930 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Owen and Ida Huggins (née Corsbie), immigrants to the US from Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies.

Huggins moved to Trinidad as a toddler, along with his mother and older sister, Jocelyn, to be raised in San Fernando on the nation's southwest coast. His father remained in New York City, and Ida raised the family largely on her own, earning money as a bookkeeper. While insulated from the effects of American racial segregation by Trinidad's multiracial society—he himself was of mixed African, Chinese, and European heritage—Huggins nonetheless saw limited opportunities in the island nation. He feared, as he sometimes put it, being “a big fish in a small pond.”

So ...

Article

Robert C. Hayden

Frederick McKinley Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. His mother died when he was an infant, and his father died about nine years later. He moved to Kentucky, where he lived with a Catholic priest, Father Ryan. Jones did odd jobs in the priest's church and rectory, attending school through grade six. At sixteen he returned to his birthplace in search of a job. He was inclined toward auto mechanics and managed to secure a position as an apprentice mechanic. His natural ability to deal with machinery was supplemented by his independent reading of books on auto mechanics. Three years later, he was foreman of the automobile shop. Moving to Chicago, Illinois, for a brief time in 1912 he worked as a pipe fitter before moving to Hallock Minnesota to work as a mechanic in a garage that repaired farm machinery Jones enlisted in the United States ...

Article

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Hubert Julian, the son of Henry and Silvina (Lily) Hilaire Julian, owners of a cocoa plantation and a shoe factory, became one of the first African American pilots when he earned an aviation license at the age of nineteen. Instead of becoming a doctor as his parents hoped, Julian lived a life of international intrigue as a pilot, arms dealer, and mercenary. Sent to school in England, Julian left Europe for Canada when World War I (1914–1919) broke out. He earned a pilot's license in Canada and arrived in Harlem in the early 1920s with hopes of flying from North America to Africa.

Julian earned the name “The Black Eagle of Harlem” after a stunt in 1923 that typified his ability to parlay failures and defeats into publicity and monetary successes Flamboyant and charming Julian turned a failed parachute ...

Article

Caroline M. Fannin

Julian, Hubert F. (20 September 1897–19 February 1983), aviator was born Hubert Fauntleroy Julian in Port of Spain Trinidad the son of Henry Julian a cocoa plantation manager and Silvina Lily Hilaire Julian He was educated at the Eastern Boys School an excellent private school in Port of Spain In 1909 he saw his first airplane minutes later he witnessed its pilot s fatal crash Nevertheless Julian was instilled with a passion for both the exotic and the mechanical aspects of aviation In 1912 his parents who wanted their only child to be a doctor sent him to England for further education When World War I broke out Julian went to Canada and attended high school in Montreal Late in the war he took flying lessons with Canadian ace Billy Bishop One of the earliest black aviators he earned his Canadian pilot s license at the age ...