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Article

Alabama  

Wesley Borucki

In 1819 Alabama was the twenty-second state admitted to the Union. Alabama has long been a hub of the African American struggle for civil rights. After the Civil War, the formerly enslaved faced intimidation at the polls despite the assurances of the Alabama supreme court chief justice Elisha Woolsey Peck that the rights promised them in Alabama's 1868 constitution would be enforced. Robert Jefferson Norrell opens his book Reaping the Whirlwind with an account of how the African American Republican state legislator James Alston saw his house fired upon twice; he left Tuskegee in 1870 (pp. 3–4). Even under these hostile circumstances, however, the African Americans Benjamin Turner, James Rapier, and Jeremiah Haralson served in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 1870s.

When Democrats regained control of Alabama's legislature and governorship in 1874 public schools were separate but far from equal As Horace Mann Bond demonstrated ...

Article

Lia B. Epperson

attorney and civil rights activist, was born Sadie Tanner Mossell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest of three children of Aaron Albert Mossell Jr., an attorney, and Mary Louise Tanner. In 1899 Mossell's father deserted the family and fled to Wales. During elementary school Sadie and her mother divided their time between Mossell's grandparents' home in Philadelphia and an aunt and uncle's home on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. When her mother returned to Pennsylvania, Mossell remained under the care of her aunt and uncle in Washington until she graduated from M Street High School.

Mossell entered the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1915 and majored in education Her years as a student in an institution with so few women students and even fewer African Americans were extremely challenging Yet with her family s financial and emotional support she prospered academically and graduated ...

Article

Alexander, the first black woman to earn a PhD in Economics, in a 1981 interview provided this advice for young black men and women: “Don’t let anything stop you. There will be times when you’ll be disappointed, but you can’t stop. Make yourself the best that you can make out of what you are. The very best.”

Sadie Tanner Mossell was born into a prominent Philadelphia family. Her father, Aaron Albert Mossell, had been the first African American to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Her grandfather, Benjamin Tucker Tanner, was a well-known author, a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the editor of the country’s first African American scholarly journal, the African Methodist Episcopal Review. The famous painter Henry Ossawa Tanner was her uncle At the turn of the century the Tanner home was a gathering place and intellectual center ...

Article

Ari Nave

Self-titled “His Excellency President for Life Field Marshal Al Hadji Dr. Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular,” Idi Amin also made a name for himself as one of modern Africa's most tyrannical and brutal rulers. A member of the Kakwa ethnic group, Idi Amin was born to Muslim parents near Koboko in northern Uganda when that part of Africa was under British control. After receiving a missionary school education, Amin joined the King's African Rifles (KAR), the African unit of the British Armed Forces, in 1946. He served in Somalia, Uganda, and Kenya while British authorities there suppressed an African uprising called the Mau Mau rebellion earning a reputation as a skilled and eager soldier But early in his career ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

The term apartheid (Afrikaans for “apartness”) was coined in the 1930s and used as a political slogan of the National Party in the early 1940s, but the practice of segregation in South Africa extends to the beginning of white settlement in South Africa in 1652. After the Afrikaner-dominated National Party came to power in 1948, regionally varied practices of racial segregation were intensified and made into a uniform set of national laws. Scholars disagree over why apartheid was adopted in South Africa. Some argue that apartheid was at its root a policy that served businesses by creating a large pool of low-cost labor. Other scholars dispute this, claiming that apartheid was adopted because of deep racism among most white South Africans and that the policy actually damaged the economy.

Article

Wendy Scott

Upon her appointment to the Domestic Relations Court (later the Family Court) of the City of New York in 1939, Jane Matilda Bolin became the first black woman judge in U.S. history. When asked why he selected the thirty-one-year-old Bolin, New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia explained that she had common sense, patience, courtesy, and a broad sympathy for human suffering. Bolin was also the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School, the first black assistant corporation counsel for the city of New York, and the first black woman admitted to membership in the New York City bar association.

Bolin was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, to Gaius C. Bolin, a lawyer; and Mathilda Ingram Bolin, a white Englishwoman. She received her elementary and secondary education in the public school system and graduated from Wellesley College in 1928 While at Wellesley she ...

Article

Katya Leney-Hall

Egyptian diplomat, jurist and scholar who, during 1992–1996, served as the sixth Secretary-General (SG) of the United Nations (UN), the first African and Arab to hold the position, was born in Cairo on 14 November 1922 into a distinguished Coptic Christian family. His grandfather, Boutros-Ghali Pasha, was the Egyptian minister for finance and, from 1894, foreign affairs. He was prime minister from 1908 to 1910 when he was assassinated by a nationalist angered with his advocacy of the extension of the Suez Canal Company s concession Boutros Boutros Ghali pointed out in an interview that the reality was that the population was happy to get rid of a Christian and his grandfather s assassination set off a wave of Coptic Muslim clashes Although not overtly religious himself his family s history status and influence on the Coptic Church were to form Boutros Ghali who would later perceive ...

Article

Timothy N. Thurber

lawyer and U.S. senator, was born Edward William Brooke III in Washington, D.C., to Edward Brooke Jr., an attorney for the Veterans Administration, and Helen Seldon. Growing up in an integrated middle-class neighborhood, Brooke readily absorbed his mother's instruction to respect others and treat all people equally. The Brookes lived relatively free from much of the racism endured by other African Americans. “We never felt hated,” his mother recalled (Cutler, 14). Brooke attended Dunbar High School, an elite public school with many middle- and upper-class African American students and then went on to Howard University, where he became president of the school's chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and earned his bachelor's degree in 1941 Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor later that year Brooke was drafted into an all black combat unit in the army He served in many roles including as a defender of those ...

Article

Kevin Allen Leonard

The history of African Americans in California since 1890 has been characterized by explosive population growth, impressive political achievements, and persistent employment and housing discrimination.

African Americans arrived in California in small numbers in the mid-nineteenth century. The state's white residents discriminated against African Americans, but they expressed even more hostility toward Native Americans, residents of Mexican ancestry, and Chinese immigrants. African Americans who came to California in the 1850s and 1860s organized and fought to gain the right to vote and the right to testify in court cases involving white people. These efforts did not succeed, and African Americans in the state gained the right to vote only when the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. In 1880 the California legislature revised the state s school law so that it did not allow separate schools for different racial groups The state later sanctioned separate schools for Asian ...

Article

John R. Howard

attorney and federal judge, was born in Careyville, Florida, the youngest of eight children of Robert Carter and Annie Martin. Shortly after his birth, Robert's family joined tens of thousands of blacks migrating from the rural South to the big cities of the North, seeking a better life. Within months of settling in Newark, New Jersey, his father died, leaving his mother a widow at age thirty-nine and the sole support of a large family. Working as a domestic by day and taking in laundry at night, she managed to keep the family together.

Carter excelled as a student, encouraged by his mother, who hoped he would train to be a minister. In his teen years she moved the family to East Orange, New Jersey, to escape the increasing decay and desperation of Newark during the Great Depression. Graduating from East Orange High School in 1933 he entered ...

Article

Michal Belknap

Civil rights is not a term precisely defined even by lawyers A legal dictionary equates civil rights with personal natural rights protected by the U S Constitution but the leading casebook in the field insists that civil rights include statutory as well as constitutional guarantees Nor is it clear to whose rights the term refers One Civil Rights Reader discusses the poor people with disabilities and categories of gender and sexuality as well as race In U S history however the term most often refers to the legal rights of racial minorities especially African Americans Those rights deteriorated markedly during the last years of the nineteenth century improved somewhat during the Progressive Era and the interwar period and were transformed by a Civil Rights Revolution triggered by World War II A period of accelerating progress climaxed with Supreme Court decisions and landmark federal legislation in the 1960s Since the ...

Article

Wim Roefs

When Rosa Parks in December 1955 refused to give her seat to a white man on a segregated city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, she was not a tired little old lady turning accidental hero, as many have perceived her. She was only forty-two years old and no more tired than usual after a day’s work. More importantly, Parks was an experienced local civil rights activist who had defied bus segregation laws several times before 1955. She had been an official in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which she had joined in 1943. She had worked in voter registration campaigns. Parks did not just stumble into history. She already was an impo rtant, albeit not the most important, example of the many black women in the struggle against white supremacy and for racial equality in the United States.

Other African American women also were ...

Article

Lawrie Balfour

Born in the Panama Canal Zone, Kenneth Bancroft Clark grew up with his mother in Harlem, New York. His childhood heroes included poet Countee Cullen, who taught at his junior high school, and book collector Arthur Schomburg, who served as curator at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library. After attending integrated elementary and junior high schools, Clark graduated from New York's George Washington High School in 1931.

Clark distinguished himself as an undergraduate at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he led demonstrations against segregation. While at Howard he met Mamie Phipps, who became his wife and closest intellectual collaborator. The Clarks then went to Columbia University in New York City to study psychology, and in 1940 Kenneth Clark became Columbia s first black recipient of a Ph D degree in psychology Clark joined the faculty of City College ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

European colonization of Africa followed a long history of contact between the two continents. Ancient Egyptian trade in the Mediterranean predates recorded history, and contact between Europe and other parts of North Africa dates back to the Greco-Roman period. Not until the fifteenth century, however, did the Portuguese establish trading posts on the sub-Saharan African shoreline. Although some early ports, such as Cape Town, became permanent settlements, the majority served as little more than entrepôts for the exchange of African and European goods. Over the next 400 years Europeans acquired slaves, gold, ivory, and later agricultural commodities from coastal traders and rulers, but—with the exception of South Africa and a handful of Portuguese holdings made few attempts to settle or otherwise control the interior By the second half of the nineteenth century however rapidly industrializing European economies needed reliable access to natural resources new markets for their manufactured ...

Article

Eric W. Rise

The history of the criminal justice system has been closely linked to the African American experience in the twentieth century. In the wake of emancipation, southern states turned to the criminal justice system to perform social control functions previously served by slavery. After the civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century, politicians used the language of crime control to signify lingering racial animosities. In the meantime blacks were arrested, convicted, and incarcerated in numbers far greater than would be predicted based on their representation in the total population. In 1940 the Uniform Crime Reports compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that the arrest rate for serious felonies was 17 per thousand for blacks compared to 6 per thousand for whites. By 1978 those rates had climbed to 100 per thousand for blacks and 35 per thousand for whites. In 1923 blacks constituted about 10 percent of the ...

Article

Jean-Philippe Dedieu

Mauritanian head of state, was born on 25 December 1924 in Boutilimit a town in the Trarza state of southern Mauritania He was descended from a family of Muslim religious scholars and political leaders belonging to the prestigious Tashumsha group of five clans of which Ould Daddah s the Awlad Aybiri was the most prominent It was also this clan that enjoyed a close relationship with the French colonial administration from the nineteenth century onward Ould Daddah was the son of a Muslim leader or marabout Muhammadun Ould Daddah and of Khadijattou Mahmoul Brahim After attending qurʾanic school and being taught by his father Moktar Ould Daddah attended the Medersa of Boutilimit a bilingual Arabic and French colonial school set up by the French Later he went to Saint Louis in neighboring Senegal to attend the l École des Fils de Chefs the Sons of the Chiefs School which ...

Article

Winifred W. Thompson

Anita L. DeFrantz is one of the most influential people in sports in the early twenty-first century. She became involved in the Olympic field as a competitor when she won a bronze medal on the U.S. women’s eight-oared shell at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. She was the first woman to represent the United States on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1986 and, in 1997, she became the first woman, as well as the first African American, to be vice president of the IOC. DeFrantz has worked on the Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta Olympic Games as a member of the United States Olympic Executive Committee.

DeFrantz was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Robert and Anita P. DeFrantz Her father directed the Community Action against Poverty organization her mother taught and eventually became a professor of Education at the University of San Francisco DeFrantz s ...

Article

Peter Wallenstein, Boyd Childress, Martin L. Levy, and Brian F. Neumann

[This entry contains five subentries, an overview and discussions of desegregation in the armed forces, in higher education, in professional athletics, and in public education.]

Article

The Fifteenth Amendment states that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by a State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The text also gives Congress the power to enforce the amendment. Although African Americans had been freed from slavery and made citizens after the Civil War by the Thirteenth and Fourteenth amendments, Southern states used a variety of tactics, including violence, to keep blacks from voting, and even some Northern states had not given blacks the franchise. Radical Republicans in Congress proposed the Fifteenth Amendment to rectify this problem.

Most people blacks and whites alike believed that the franchise was the best assurance of progress and success for the freedpeople Most whites felt that the right to participate in the political process was in fact all the nation owed the ...

Article

Paul Finkelman

The daughter of a minister, Ada Lois Sipuel was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma. Her brother had planned to challenge the segregationist policies of the University of Oklahoma but instead went to Howard University Law School, in part because he did not want to delay his career, having already been delayed by serving in World War II. Ada, who was younger and who had been in college during the war, was willing to delay her legal career in order to challenge segregation.

In 1946 Fisher applied for admission to the University of Oklahoma Law School but was denied because of her race. A lengthy court battle ensued. In 1948 the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Oklahoma must provide instruction for blacks equal to that given whites Unfortunately since this decision did not invalidate segregated education the regents created the Langston University School of Law located at the ...