chief minister of Barbados (1948–1958); premier of Barbados (1954–1958); and prime minister of the West Indian Federation (1958–1962), was born on 28 April 1898 in Government Hill, Barbados. The third of seven children born to Fitz Herbert and Rosa Adams (née Turney), Adams attended St. Giles’ Primary and later Harrison College. In 1918 Adams was awarded the Barbados Scholarship, which enabled him to attend Oxford University to study law. At Oxford, he regularly participated in political debates and became a member of the Liberal Party there. He campaigned for the Liberal candidate Frank Gray in 1922–1923 and canvassed for C. B. Fry in 1924. He returned to Barbados in 1925. Adams met and eventually married Grace Thorne in 1929 One year later she gave birth to their only child John Michael Geoffrey Adams otherwise known as Tom Adams prime minister of ...
Grantley Herbert Adams was born in Government Hill, Barbados, then a British colony. His father, Fitzherbert Adams, was a black man and the head teacher of one of the island's largest primary schools, Saint Giles. His mother, Rosa Frances Adams, was a coloured woman (of mixed African and European descent). By West Indian standards, the Adams family was part of the lower middle class, removed from the endemic poverty that engulfed the disenfranchised black majority.
Like his father, Adams attended Harrisons College, the colony's premier secondary school. In 1919 he won a prestigious island scholarship to Oxford University in England, where he studied law. In England he met intellectuals from the colonized world, many of whom, like himself, had joined the Fabian Society, a socialist movement that supported decolonization and the end of the British Empire. In 1925 Adams returned to Barbados working as a lawyer ...
A. L. Dawn French
was born on 8 January 1951 at Riviere Doree, a community in the southeast section of the island. He was one of nine boys of David William Barnard and Andrazine Anthony, better known as (and officially known as) Lucy Rosemond, who hailed from Saltibus. They also had two girls, both of whom died in infancy.
Anthony grew up in the south of the island, in the villages of Degatierre and River Dorée. His education started at the River Dorée Anglican Combined School, but was interrupted when he moved to the nearby island of St. Vincent. From 1959 to 1963 he attended the Kingstown Preparatory School in the capital, Kingstown. In 1963 he returned to Saint Lucia and attended the Laborie Boys School for one year; in 1964 he moved to the Vieux Fort Secondary School. Upon graduation in 1968 he worked at the business house of Minvielle and Chastanet ...
William Attaway was born 19 November 1911, in Greenville, Mississippi, to Florence Parry Attaway, a teacher, and William Alexander Attaway, a physician and founder of the National Negro Insurance Association. When he was five, his family moved to Chicago, taking part in the Great Migration that he later chronicled as a novelist. The family moved to protect the children from the corrosive racial attitudes of the South.
Attaway's early interest in literature was sparked by Langston Hughes's poetry and by his sister who encouraged him to write for her theater groups. He attended the University of Illinois until his father's death, when Attaway left school and traveled west. He lived as a vagabond for two years, working a variety of jobs and writing. In 1933 he returned to Chicago and resumed his schooling, graduating in 1936. Attaway's play Carnival (1935 was produced at the ...
George P. Weick
writer, was born in Greenville, Mississippi, the son of William S. Attaway, a medical doctor, and Florence Parry, a teacher. His family moved to Chicago when Attaway was six years old, following the arc of the Great Migration, that thirty‐year period beginning in the last decade of the nineteenth century during which more than 2 million African Americans left the South for the burgeoning industrial centers of the North. Unlike many of these emigrants, who traded the field for the factory and the sharecropper's shack for the ghetto, the Attaways were professionals at the outset, with high ambitions for themselves and their children in their new homeland.
Attaway attended public schools in Chicago, showing no great interest in his studies until, as a high school student, he encountered the work of Langston Hughes He became from that point on a more serious student and even tried his hand ...
Dexnell G.L. Peters
was born Raymond Quevedo on 24 March 1892 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. He was born to a Trinidadian mother and Venezuelan father. Quevedo won a government scholarship, receiving his secondary education at St. Mary’s College or the College of Immaculate Conception, a prestigious Port of Spain school. He likely spent the years 1904 to 1908 at the college. It should be noted that secondary education at the time was a privilege only afforded to those of the wealthier classes or those able to attain one of the few available government scholarships. Although this privilege allowed Quevedo the opportunity to pursue various career options, he eventually decided to become a calypsonian and later was popularly known by the sobriquet “Attila the Hun.” In 1911 he sang his first calypso publicly and later began singing in calypso tents venues where calypsonians performed regularly and where he grew tremendously ...
South African labor organizer and women’s movement leader, was born in the diamond-mining town of Kimberley, the fourth of six children. Her father Herman Maswabi had come from Bechuanaland (now Botswana) to work on the mines and was a steward in the local Methodist church; her mother, Sara Voss, also Tswana, came from Kimberley. When her father’s brother and sister-in-law died, Baard’s family took in their children, and her parents sent her to stay with her father’s sister in Ramotswa, a village not far from Gaborone, where she was confirmed in the local Lutheran church. After Baard, then around eight years old, suffered serious burns in a cooking fire, her mother brought her back to the family home in Beaconsfield, just outside of Kimberley. She attended a Methodist school, learning in both English and Tswana. Shortly after she returned, her mother passed away during the 1918 flu epidemic.
When Baard ...
Eric Paul Roorda
labor leader in the sugar industry during the Rafael Trujillo regime, was born in Sabana Grande de Palenque in the province of San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic, on 23 September 1910. He was the son of Daniel Báez, a sugarcane cutter, and Julia de los Santos. They moved to San Pedro de Macorís with him when he was young. He began working in a company store on the Colón sugar estate, and later he became a stevedore in the port of San Pedro. These places of employment may have provided him the chance to gain literacy, although he had no formal education. What he had was intelligence, charisma, and a great public speaking ability.
Báez became a leader of the nascent labor union movement in the cane fields around San Pedro de Macorís and La Romana in the early 1940s He was one of the leaders of a brief localized ...
Michael J. Murphy
automobile worker and activist, was born General Gordon Baker Jr. in Detroit, Michigan, one of five children of General Gordon Baker Sr., an automobile worker, and Clara Baker, a housewife. Baker attended Southwestern High School in Detroit and went on to take classes at Highland Park Community College and Wayne State University. In the early 1960s he took a job with Ford Motor Company and continued to work in the automobile industry for almost forty years. In 1941 Baker s father had moved his family to Detroit from Georgia in search of a job in the booming war production industries taking part in the massive migration of African Americans from the rural South to cities in the North during the first half of the twentieth century Becoming an autoworker allowed Baker Sr to dramatically improve his family s standard of living especially in comparison to his prospects ...
was born in Puerto Barrios in the Izabal department of Guatemala. Izabal has been the homeland of African-descended Garifuna people from the Caribbean since the late eighteenth century, but Bennett’s family were more recent black migrants from Jamaica. His parents’ names and occupations and their precise date of arrival from Jamaica are not known.
Although little is known of his early life, by the 1940s Bennett had emerged as a union leader of the Railroad Mixed Mutual Aid Society (Sociedad de Auxilio Mutuo Ferrocarrilero) and regional representative of the Communist-led General Confederation of Guatemalan Workers (Confederación General de Trabajadores de Guatemala). As leader of the Workers’ Union of Puerto Barrios (Unión Sindical de Trabajadores), Bennett was very active in the post–World War II labor struggles in Izabal on the part of the employees of the United Fruit Company (UFCO) and the International Railways of Central America. In 1946 the ...
football player and labor activist, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the first of nine children born to Jesse and Henrietta Bethea. Bethea grew up poor, with his father finding whatever jobs he could while his mother worked out of the home as a hairdresser. His father, who enforced a strict home environment, did not think much of football as he struggled in a low-paying factory job, but he did leave Elvin his blue-collar work ethic—a trait the son applied to his own life, especially in football. Bethea excelled in football at Trenton Central High School and was offered a football scholarship at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University in Greensboro, where he made All-America as a two way lineman. At North Carolina A & T, Bethea played under the assistant coach Hornsby Howell who pushed him to succeed not only in sports but also in life ...
Ingrid Y. Castañeda
born to Creole (English-speaking) parents in British Honduras in 1897. Betson attended primary school at a Methodist institution and in 1916 volunteered to fight in World War I as part of the British West Indies Regiment. Upon return to Belize from the Middle East in 1919, black former servicemen rioted over poor conditions at home and abroad. While he apparently did not participate in the riots, the radicalism of the period, combined with the appeal of Marcus Garvey’s ideas, had a lasting impact on Betson. After his military service, he returned to work as a master shipwright, repairing ships on the waterfront.
British Honduras was again gripped by social upheaval in 1934 as the Great Depression battered the colony s economy Sparked by the government s lack of response to a disastrous hurricane the colony saw strikes and street protests demanding jobs higher wages and better living ...
Cleve McD. Scott
was born on 7 December 1910, to Theophilus Bird and Amanda Edgehill in St. John’s, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda. He grew up in poverty and received only a primary level education, factors that would drive his future political activism. At age 15, Vere joined the Salvation Army, a religious organization. He was trained at its college in Trinidad and joined the college’s staff on completion of his stint. By age 21, the near 7-footer had attained the rank of captain and was assigned to Grenada, where he worked until the early 1930s before returning home.
The 1930s in the Anglophone Caribbean was like a boiling cauldron producing widespread social and political upheaval and this was the backdrop to Bird’s rise in the labor movement and politics. In 1939 on the heels of the visit by the British colonial Moyne Commission investigating the causes of the labor ...
Samuel W. Black
stationary engineer, labor union president, was born John Lincoln Black in Burgin, Kentucky, the second child of Robert Lincoln Black, a laborer, and Bertha Ann Ball Boggs Black. After his birth the Black family moved to Keene, Kentucky, to live with John's paternal grandmother. Within a few years Bertha Black became ill with tuberculosis and sickle cell anemia, so young John was sent to live with his father's relatives while his older sister and younger brother remained with the family. After the death of his mother in 1934 Black continued to live with his great‐aunt Martha while his two siblings, Anna Mae and Wallace, lived with their paternal grandmother. After the death of his great‐aunt, John moved to Cincinnati and joined his father, stepmother, and siblings. John Black attended the Cincinnati public schools—the all‐black Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School founded by Jennie Porter Bloom Junior High and ...
Dorothy Cowser Yancy
Drawing upon the knowledge acquired from years of doing domestic work and her experiences as a community activist, in 1968 Dorothy Lee Bolden organized the National Domestic Workers Union, which improved the wages and working conditions of domestic workers in Atlanta and served as an ongoing model for those in other cities.
Dorothy Lee Bolden was born in Atlanta, the daughter of Raymond Bolden, a chauffeur; and Georgia Mae Patterson, a cook who had moved to Atlanta from Madison, Georgia. She received her formal education through the ninth grade at E. P. Johnson Elementary School and David T. Howard High School in Atlanta.
At age three, Bolden was blinded after a fall that damaged her optical nerve. Her sight returned between the ages of seven and nine. It was during this period that she began her work life. She took her first job in 1930 washing ...
was born on 16 September 1916 in St. Paul’s Village, St. Kitts, to domestic worker Mary Jane Francis, and blacksmith and laborer William Bradshaw. His interaction with trade unions began at an early age. His grandmother often sent him to pay her union dues to her union representative, one Gabriel Douglas, on his way to school. Like many boys in his community, Bradshaw worked on the neighboring sugar estate after completing his education. At the age of 16, he was apprenticed to the foreman in the machine shop at the St. Kitts-Bassetere Sugar Company. He joined the St. Kitts Workers League on the recommendation of his boss in the machine shop. In 1935 another boy pushed Bradshaw and his right hand went through a glass window during the altercation severing all the tendons After he recovered Bradshaw was promoted to the office of the machine shop This accident changed ...
was born in 1885 in Barbados, then part of the British West Indies. As a teenager, he enrolled as a seaman in the British merchant navy, before settling in Chicago and raising a family. During the World War I, like many other black colonial seamen, he rejoined the merchant navy. After the war, Braithwaite returned to the United States, this time to New York, where he found work in a bar and possibly witnessed the month-long New York Harbor Strike in October 1919.
In the early 1920s, Braithwaite crossed the Atlantic and settled in Stepney, London, where, after meeting Edna Slack, a young white woman whom he married in 1936 he raised a new family with six children He found work with the Shipping Federation as an agent in the Pool a part of the River Thames where many ships came to dock He was charged with finding ...
was born in New York City on 29 September 1915, the son of Charles Breechford Burnham and Louise St. Clair Williams Burnham, Afro-Guyanese migrants to the United States. A cousin of Guyana prime minister Forbes Burnham, Louis Burnham stands as a marked contrast to the common stereotype that Guyanese socialists are mostly of East Indian descent, while Guyanese of African descent are more conservative in their politics.
Some sources presume that Burnham was born in Barbados, but census records show that while his Guyanese parents were both born there, his mother immigrated to the United States in 1909, and that his father did so no later than 1914, perhaps before 1910. Neither was a naturalized citizen in 1920, when the family lived at 253 West 139th Street in Harlem. He had an older brother, Charles St. Clair Burnham, born in New York in 1914 ...
and the first “First Lady” of independent Jamaica, was born Gladys Maud Longbridge on 8 March 1912 in Parson Reid, Westmoreland, Jamaica, to working-class parents, Rebecca Blackwood and Frank Longbridge. Lady Bustamante, in her Memoirs, identified the role of her family (including her extended family), the church, school, and the local community in molding her early years and inculcating the values of responsibility and giving back to others. She attended the Ashton Primary School, which was run by the Moravian Church. As an ambitious 18-year-old, she moved to Kingston, the island’s capital, to pursue further education at Tutorial Commercial College, where she studied to be a secretary. It was in Kingston that she began her journey to become associated with Jamaica’s early trade union movement and a contributor to the project of nation-building.
Bustamante described her early life in rural western Jamaica as happy and carefree She was involved ...
Born William Alexander Clarke, of an Irish immigrant father and a Jamaican mother of indigenous and African descent, Bustamante grew up in Blenheim, Jamaica, but ventured out into the world at the age of twenty-one. As a young man he served in the Spanish army, then worked in various capacities in Cuba, Panama, and New York City. He returned to Jamaica in 1932 as a wealthy entrepreneur. Although shrewd investments had made him rich, Bustamante's concern for Jamaican Sugar plantation workers led him to participate in protest marches, organize strikes, and become the treasurer of the Jamaican Workers and Tradesmen's Union (JWTU), which he helped found in 1937. His political activism continued alongside the social upheaval occurring in the 1930s throughout the West Indies. After he was jailed and released in May 1938 he became a symbolic leader of the workers movement ...