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Katya Leney-Hall

Ghanaian Nobel Laureate and United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, was born in Kumasi in what was then the British Gold Coast colony. Along with his twin sister Efua Atta, he was born to Rose Annan, a Fante, and Henry Reginald Annan, an Ashanti/Fante. Both parents were Christian and descendants of chiefs. Annan’s father was a commissioner of the Ashanti region and an employee of the United Africa Company, who rose through the ranks to become its director. After his retirement, Henry Reginald Annan also became president of the Ghana International Bank.

Ghana’s declaration of independence in 1957 found Kofi Annan in Cape Coast, finishing his secondary schooling at Mfantsipim, the Methodist boarding school. The following year, he began his studies in Economics at the Kumasi College of Science and Technology, completing his degree in the United States at Macalester College, in St. Paul, Minnesota (1961 From there he moved ...

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Ralph M. Coury

Egyptian diplomat, is best known as a pioneer of Egyptian Arab nationalism and the first secretary-general of the Arab League. His father, Hassan Bey, served as a member of Egypt’s quasi-parliamentary bodies before 1914. His family owned considerable land in their hometown in Giza, as well as a townhouse in Helwan. Although scholars who emphasize the shallow basis of Egyptian Arab nationalism link Azzam’s early Arabism to a strong consciousness of Peninsular origin, the Azzams regarded themselves as fallahin dhawati (an elite of rural origin). As was true of many sons of the ruling class in their modernizing journey, Azzam resisted his father’s pressures to study at the religious university of al-Azhar. He attended state primary and secondary schools, St. Thomas’s School of Medicine in London, and then, briefly, as a result of the interruption of World War I, the Qasr al-Aini School of Medicine in Cairo.

As a ...

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Thomas Clarkin

scholar and diplomat, was born Ralph Johnson Bunche in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Fred Bunch, a barber, and Olive Agnes Johnson. His grandmother added an “e” to the family's last name following a move to Los Angeles, California. Because his family moved frequently, Bunche attended a number of public schools before graduating first in his class from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles in 1922. He majored in Political Science at the University of California, Southern Branch (now University of California, Los Angeles [UCLA]), graduating summa cum laude and serving as class valedictorian in 1927. He continued his studies in political science at Harvard, receiving his MA in 1928, and then taught at Howard University in Washington, D.C., while working toward his PhD at Harvard. In 1930 he married Ruth Ethel Harris they had three children Bunche traveled to Europe and Africa researching ...

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Lawrie Balfour

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Ralph Johnson Bunche spent his early years with his parents in Detroit and in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He attributed his achievements to the influence of his maternal grandmother, Lucy Johnson, with whom he lived in Los Angeles, California, after he was orphaned at age thirteen. Johnson not only insisted that her grandson be self-reliant and proud of his race, but also that he, a high school valedictorian, go to college.

Bunche enrolled at the University of California at Los Angeles, and after graduating summa cum laude in 1927, he entered graduate school at Harvard University in Massachusetts. He was the first black American to earn a Ph.D. degree in political science from an American university. Bunche won the prize for the outstanding doctoral thesis in the social sciences in 1934 He conducted his postdoctoral research on African colonialism He did his research ...

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Joseph C. Heim

scholar, university professor, diplomat, UN administrator, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. In the 1950s and 1960s Bunche was the most visible African American on the world stage. But his accomplishments were far in the future when he was born in modest circumstances in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Fred Bunche, a barber, and Olive Bunche. His parents, however, were constantly in poor health, and after their early deaths Bunche was raised by his grandmother, Lucy Johnson, in Los Angeles.

His grandmother s diligence and inspiration guided and shaped Bunche s youth and he compiled a record of stellar achievement both in athletics he later was a guard on the basketball team of the University of California at Los Angeles UCLA and in academics This he did while holding numerous jobs from delivering newspapers to laying carpets on merchant ships His early years also ...

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John Craig Hammond

“I do not set up for being perfect: far from it!” wrote the Kentucky antislavery agitator Cassius Marcellus Clay to the abolitionist John Fee in 1855. “I wish I were,” he continued, but “a good balance sheet of good against evil is all I aspire to!” Judged by his own standards as well as by those of black and white antislavery advocates, Cassius Clay succeeded in fulfilling his ambition, through his battles against the evil of slavery. A former slaveholder and one of the few antislavery leaders to remain in the South after 1830, Clay became something of a hero to northern abolitionists, who appreciated his willingness to challenge slaveholders on their own turf.

Cassius Clay was born in Kentucky s Bluegrass region to the planter Green Clay and his wife Sally in Clermont Clay lived to the age of ninety three and spent much of his life ...

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Katya Leney-Hall

Egyptian Nobel Laureate, diplomat, international civil servant, and scholar who served as the director general (DG) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) between 1997 and 2009, was born in Cairo. His father was Mostafa ElBaradei, a lawyer and president of the Egyptian Bar Association, who campaigned for a free press and an independent legal system. ElBaradei studied law at the University of Cairo (1962), and completed his PhD in international law at the New York University School of Law (1974).

ElBaradei joined the Egyptian Diplomatic Service in 1964; his postings included the Egyptian Permanent Missions to the United Nations (UN) in New York and Geneva. Between 1974 and 1978 he served as a special assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister Working under another Egyptian diplomat who would later leave his mark on the UN Boutros Boutros Ghali he attended the Camp David ...

Article

Robert J. Cottrol

was born in Rio de Janeiro on 31 March 1963. He would become acquainted with Itamaraty (the Brazilian Foreign Ministry) and the world of Brazilian diplomacy at an early age. He is the child of Benedicto Fonseca, a low-level clerk and messenger for the Brazilian Foreign Service, and Célia Pedrosa Fonseca. In 1970 Fonseca and his family moved from Rio to Brasilia as part of the Foreign Ministry’s transition to the nation’s new capital. Although his father was a low-level employee, his position led to postings around the world.

When Benedicto was 9 the family was posted to the Brazilian embassy in Prague Czechoslovakia He would later note that that experience awakened his interest in foreign affairs and in the prospects of a career in the Foreign Ministry He has also noted that his father s postings gave him opportunities afforded to few Afro Brazilians When the family was ...

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Gloria Grant Roberson

With the support of the Harvard-affiliated educator George Herbert Palmer, Greener participated in a program to expose an African American to a Harvard education. Although poor grades resulted in his repeating his first year, Greener went on to win the Boylston Prize for Oratory in his sophomore year and the inaugural Bowdoin Prize for Research and Writing for his senior dissertation on Irish culture. Greener apparently recognized the advantages of repeating his first year at Harvard, because later, as a professor of mental and moral philosophy at the University of South Carolina, he was instrumental in adding a “subfreshman” class to the curriculum for scholarship students struggling with Latin and Greek.

The only child of Richard Wesley Greener, a seafaring man with an adventurous spirit, and Mary Ann Le Brune, Greener was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania His mother was thrust into single parenthood when her husband failed to ...

Article

Dickson D. Jr. Bruce

scholar and activist, was born in Colleton County, South Carolina, near Charleston, the eldest of three sons of Henry Grimké, a lawyer and member of one of South Carolina's leading families, and Nancy Weston, a slave owned by Grimké. He was also a nephew, on his father's side, of the noted white southern abolitionists Sarah Grimké and Angelina Grimké Weld. Although Archibald was born a slave, Henry acknowledged him as his son. After Henry's death in 1852 his mother took him to Charleston, where, even though he was still legally a slave, he attended a school for free blacks.

This condition was to change with the coming of the Civil War, when, in 1860, one of Henry's adult white sons, from an earlier marriage, forced the Grimké brothers—Archibald, John, and Francis J. Grimké—to work as household slaves. Archibald escaped in 1863 hiding in ...

Article

Mona E. Jackson

Honored in 2000 with a postal stamp bearing her portrait, the politician and civil rights advocate Patricia Roberts Harris was a leader in trying to bring about improvements and progress for disadvantaged people. Her career culminated in being named the secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.

Patricia Roberts was born in Mattoon, Illinois, to Bert and Hildren Roberts. She and her brother were raised by their mother after her father left the family when she was still a young child. Racked by economic hardships, Roberts’s mother knew that education was the means to gaining a better life and continually stressed its importance to her daughter. Roberts followed her mother’s advice, and after finishing her secondary education in Chicago, Roberts entered Howard University’s School of Liberal Arts in 1941 from which she graduated summa cum laude four years later While ...

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Michaeljulius Idani

conservative activist, diplomat, and radio personality, was born in Long Island, New York, the youngest of the five children of Allison L. Keyes, a U.S. Army sergeant, and Gerthina Quick Keyes, a homemaker. Keyes spent the majority of his childhood on various military bases. He developed a close relationship with his mother, whom he admired greatly for raising a family under difficult circumstances. Both parents instilled in Keyes a strong sense of faith, which would underpin his later political activism.

From an early age Keyes displayed a talent for public speaking viewing it as an effective means of influencing others particularly in regards to moral issues While attending Robert G Cole High School in San Antonio Texas Keyes became active in debating clubs and civic organizations He competed in numerous speech contests winning the majority of them His oratorical skills aided in his elections to ...

Article

Aimee Lee Cheek and William Cheek

political leader and intellectual, was born free in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Ralph Quarles, a wealthy white slaveholding planter, and Lucy Jane Langston, a part-Native American, part-black slave emancipated by Quarles in 1806. After the deaths of both of their parents in 1834, Langston and his two brothers, well provided for by Quarles's will but unprotected by Virginia law, moved to Ohio. There Langston lived on a farm near Chillicothe with a cultured white southern family who had been friends of his father and who treated him as a son. He was in effect orphaned again in 1839 when a court hearing concluding that his guardian s impending move to slave state Missouri would imperil the boy s freedom and inheritance forced him to leave the family Subsequently he boarded in four different homes white and black in Chillicothe and Cincinnati worked ...

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Thomas Adams Upchurch

Born in Virginia to a wealthy white planter and a slave mother, John Mercer Langston was one of the most influential African Americans of the nineteenth century. Widely regarded by contemporaries and historians alike as second in importance only to Frederick Douglass, Langston actually superseded the venerable Douglass in certain ways. Although Douglass enjoyed more widespread renown, Langston held more government positions and had a more varied career. The two men first met in 1848 and maintained a friendship for many years thereafter. They disagreed on some important racial issues, however, which sometimes led to hard feelings and, near the end of their lives, an intense rivalry that most observers would say made them bitter enemies.

Langston was about ten years younger than Douglass and while they were both mulattoes born to slave mothers their upbringings could hardly have been more different Whereas Douglass endured the most abhorrent circumstances ...

Article

Nana Yaw B. Sapong

, teacher, diplomat, politician, and president of Ghana’s Third Republic, was born in Gwellu in the Upper Region of Ghana in 1934. His father was a blacksmith and farmer in a region noted for predominantly producing cereal, root crops, and legumes. Limann was an accomplished individual. After completing his elementary education at Lawra and Tamale, he earned a teacher’s certificate from the Tamale Government Teacher Training College in 1952 and the General Certificate Examination Advanced Level in 1957. This earned him a place at the London School of Economics, where he completed a bachelor of science in economics degree in 1960. He journeyed to France where he earned a doctorate in political science and constitutional law from the University of Paris in 1965 Limann also received a high diploma in the French language from the Sorbonne 1962 and a bachelor of arts in history from the ...

Article

Alan West

José Martí is one of the major figures of nineteenth-century Latin America. He is regarded by Cubans across the political spectrum as the father of Cuba's independence. His collected works span some twenty-eight volumes and include exquisite poetry, insightful essays on Whitman and Emerson, impassioned political analysis, and a remarkable book of children's literature, La edad de oro (1889).

While still an adolescent, Martí embraced the cause of Cuban independence, founding the newspaper La Patria Libre in 1869. He was imprisoned and then banished for writing a letter denouncing a Spanish fellow student. After 1871 Martí spent a great deal of his life outside of Cuba (Mexico, Guatemala, Spain), and most of the years between 1881 and 1895 in New York where he dedicated himself to the Cuban independence movement as a brilliant orator journalist fund raiser and political leader He ...

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Robert Rotberg

British imperialist in southern Africa, diamond mine entrepreneur, and Cape Colony politician, was born the fourth son and sixth child in a family of nine. Rhodes grew up in a vicarage in Bishop’s Stortford, England, performed well but not brilliantly in the local schools, and set sail for Africa at the age of sixteen.

For a year from age seventeen to eighteen he attempted to grow cotton in the central section of what is now KwaZulu Natal South Africa Then he joined his brother on the newly opened diamond fields of Kimberley in the Cape Colony There he made his fortune gradually gaining ascendancy among hard scrabble diamond seekers and consolidating his holdings over first one and then over the several pits from which rough diamonds were dug As a very young man he also gained a broad personal following because of his ideas about imperial might and the glory ...

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Pamela Newkirk

journalist, diplomat, and United States Information Agency director, was born in Ravenscroft, Tennessee. He was one of three children of Thomas David Rowan, a lumberyard worker with a fifth-grade education who had served in World War I, and Johnnie Bradford, a domestic worker with an eleventh-grade education. When Rowan was an infant, his family left the dying coal-mining town of his birth to go to McMinnville, Tennessee, lured by its lumberyards, nurseries, and livery stables. But there, in the midst of the Great Depression, they remained mired in poverty. The elder Rowan sometimes found jobs stacking lumber at twenty-five cents an hour and, according to his son, probably never made more than three hundred dollars in a single year. Meanwhile his mother worked as a domestic, cleaning houses and doing the laundry of local white families.

The family lived in an old frame house along ...

Article

Osire Glacier

Moroccan diplomat and human rights activist, was born Halima Embarek in Casablanca, Morocco. At the age of fourteen, her father, a businessman, sent her to study in a French school in Cairo, Egypt. Ten years later, in 1957, she graduated with a BA in literature from Cairo University. Upon graduation, she was influenced by a family friend, Abelkhaled Torres, the Moroccan ambassador to Egypt, who organized a party to celebrate her graduation. The elegant manner in which Torres welcomed and mingled with his guests helped her to realize that she wanted to pursue a career as a diplomat.

Upon her return to Morocco she secretly applied for a position within the Foreign Affairs Ministry despite the opposition of her father who wished for her to join his business The secretariat recruited her as the fourth secretary the lowest position within the department At that time only three women worked ...