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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

Amy M. Hay

Edwards’s service was also recognized in 1967 when she received the Poverello Medal, awarded to individuals whose lives followed the ideals of Saint Francis of Assisi. Blessed with financial and familial support, her ministry to poor European immigrants and Mexican migrants, her own life of voluntary poverty, and her service to the African American community all made her a worthy recipient of such honors. She spent a lifetime addressing the needs of the poor, women, students, and the aged.

Edwards was born in Washington, DC. Her parents, Thomas Edwards, a professor of dentistry at Howard University, and Marie Coakley Edwards, had three other children. Edwards grew up in a middle-class family, part of the capital’s elite society at the time. At an early age she decided she wanted to become a doctor. She attended Washington’s Dunbar High School, graduating in 1917 as valedictorian She attended Howard ...

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

Margaret Jerrido

who was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of Benjamin Richard Boulding and Florence Ruffin Boulding. In Dorothy’s oral history she admits that she is not certain about her birthdate because when she was born, births for blacks were not registered in Norfolk. For social security and school purposes her father provided the date of 10 October 1898. Her two older brothers were educated in the public schools of Norfolk, but because her mother was very ill following Dorothy’s birth, the child was sent to Boston and taken care of by her great aunt, Emma Ruffin, who played an important role in her early education. Dorothy attended primary school from 1904 to 1906 in the West End of Boston and then attended Bowdoin, a grammar school, also located in the West End, from 1906 to 1908 The health of Dorothy s mother greatly improved over these ...

Article

Sharon Renee McGee

singer and songwriter, was born Minnie Julia Riperton in Chicago, the youngest of eight children of Daniel Riperton, a Pullman porter, and Thelma (maiden name unknown). At a young age, Riperton began taking music, dance, and ballet lessons at the Lincoln Center in Chicago. At the age of nine, she decided to experience a new genre of music and began taking opera lessons, something that contributed to the cultivation of her five-octave vocal range. She sang in the choir at the Sixth Presbyterian Church and at Hyde Park High School.

At the age of fourteen, while in the Hyde Park a capella choir, she was discovered by the pianist and songwriter Raynard Miner who asked her to join the Gems a girl group he frequently played with for Chess Records Over the next few years Riperton cut a series of singles with the group including I Can ...

Article

Dawne Y. Curry

Minnie Riperton still seduces music aficionados with songs such as “Perfect Angel,” “Loving You,” and “Memory Lane,” some of the treasures she bequeathed as part of her musical legacy. Riperton used her remarkable five-octave vocal range to paint a lyrical tapestry of love, beauty, and unity. This was not the only talent that Riperton possessed, nor the only indelible mark she left behind.

Minnie Riperton, the youngest of the eight children of Daniel and Thelma Riperton, was born in Chicago, Illinois where she underwent extensive preparatory training as a young child She took classes in modern dance and ballet before turning to opera As a teenager she had the opportunity to perform with the Gems an all female singing group that signed a major recording contract with Chess Records She performed as a backup singer on several hits produced by Chess Records including There Is by the Dells ...