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Raymond Pierre Hylton

minister, author, physician, dentist, and missionary, was born in Winton, North Carolina. His father, Lemuel Washington Boone (1827–1878), was a prominent minister and politician, and one of the original trustees of Shaw University.

Boone received his early education at Waters Normal and Industrial Institute in Winton. From 1896 to 1899 he attended Richmond Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. In 1899, when the seminary merged with Wayland Seminary College of Meridian Hill in Washington, D.C., to form Virginia Union University and moved to its new Richmond campus at North Lombardy Street, Boone finished his senior year and became part of the university's first graduating class in 1900; he received the bachelor's of divinity degree.

During his final year at Virginia Union, Boone met Eva Roberta Coles from Charlottesville, Virginia, who studied at the neighboring African American women's institution, Hartshorn Memorial College, from which she graduated in 1899 ...

Article

George White

psychiatrist, educational reformer, and author. Born to working-class parents during the Great Depression, James Pierpont Comer became a world-renowned child psychiatrist. He spent his childhood in East Chicago, Indiana, but then traveled to the East Coast and did work at some of America's most prestigious academic institutions. By the early twenty-first century he stood as an intellectual pioneer and an advocate for disadvantaged children.

Comer's parents lacked extensive formal education, and both worked outside the home—his father as a laborer at a steel mill and his mother as a domestic. Yet they created an environment that cultivated self-esteem, confidence, and high academic achievement for James and his siblings. After completing high school in 1952, Comer attended and graduated from Indiana University, but his negative experiences in Bloomington encouraged him to attend medical school elsewhere. He earned his MD in 1960 from Howard University and a ...

Article

Donna A. Patterson

Senegalese politician, pharmacist, and author, was born in Saint-Louis, Senegal, on 30 September 1922. His father worked as a colonial official, and his mother was a homemaker. In 1935, Diop’s father died; his mother followed two years later, leaving Diop, aged fifteen, and his four siblings orphaned. The death of his parents kindled a desire to excel in his studies, and after completing his secondary education in Saint-Louis and Dakar, Diop was admitted to French West Africa’s School of Medicine and Pharmacy.

The curriculum at the School of Medicine and Pharmacy was abbreviated during the early years, with initial terms of three and fours years of study. Despite the initial brevity, graduates from these programs were extensively trained in local hospitals and clinics. Likewise, in his memoirs (Mémoires de luttes: Textes pour servir à l’histoire du Parti Africain de l’Indépendance, 2007 Diop describes his training ...

Article

Christopher J. Neumann

autobiographer and black women's rights activist, was born Jane Edna Harris in Pendleton, South Carolina, the daughter of Edward Harris and Harriet Millner, sharecroppers. Following her father's death due to jaundice when she was ten years old, Jane and her three siblings were distributed briefly among the homes of various relatives. His death and the ensuing dispersal of her nuclear family were especially difficult for Jane, in part because she had customarily been “father's ally in his differences with mother” (A Nickel, 12) but also because she now had to forgo formal schooling to earn her keep in Anderson, South Carolina, as a live-in nursemaid and cook. Although treated so poorly by her mistress that white and black neighbors alike protested, she was taught to read and write by the eldest daughter.

Harris entered Ferguson Academy (later Ferguson-Williams College) in 1896 graduating four years later ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

midwife and author, was born Onnie Lee Rodgers near Sweet Water in southwest Alabama to Len Rodgers, a farmer and carpenter, and his wife, Martha (maiden name unknown), a midwife and farmer. Like her fifteen siblings and most rural southerners at the time, Onnie Lee was delivered by an African American midwife, in part because of a lack of practicing physicians outside of the South's major urban centers, and also because black granny midwives had traditionally performed this task since slavery times. In addition to her mother, Logan's maternal and paternal grandmothers, as well as one of her brothers-in-law, were also midwives.

At a time when most of her black neighbors struggled to get by as sharecroppers, Onnie Lee Logan recalled that her parents owned their own land a huge plantation on which they raised several types of livestock and grew a wide variety of vegetables as ...

Article

Andrea Patterson

proctologist and author, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the grandson of a former slave from North Carolina, and the son of Thomas Henry Peyton, one of the first black policemen in New York City, and Louisa Jones, of African American and Mohawk Indian ancestry. Peyton attended a manual training high school in Brooklyn and continued his studies at the Long Island College of Medicine from where he graduated as the only black student of his class in 1921. In 1923 he married Gladys (maiden name unknown) and the couple had three children, Roy (b. 1925), Carter (b. 1928), and Joyce (b. 1935 Peyton lived during a time when black doctors experienced severe professional discrimination in training and practice Yet like Peyton their commitment to medicine and civil rights bound them together in a ceaseless effort to advance scientific knowledge provide better educational ...

Article

Jane Robinson

Jamaicannurse, hotelier, entrepreneur, writer, and heroine of the Crimean War. She was born Mary Grant, but no official records of her birth or parentage exist; in her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857), she stated her father to be a soldier of Scottish descent (possibly James Grant of the 60th Regiment of Foot) and her Creole mother to be the keeper of a Kingston hotel, Blundell Hall, and a well‐respected ‘doctress’, skilled in the traditional African use of herbal remedies. Her mother's guests and patients included British army officers garrisoned in Kingston, and Grant enjoyed a close relationship with the Army all her life. She had one sister, Louisa Grant (c.1815–1905), and a half‐brother, Edward Ambleton, who died during the 1850s.

Grant was educated by an elderly woman described in the autobiography as my kind ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

midwife, was born to Beulah Sanders in Eutaw, Alabama. Perhaps very young, and unable to look after a baby, Beulah Sanders asked a local woman, Margaret Charles, to raise her child, because she had adopted and raised nine others. In her 1996 autobiography Margaret Charles Smith refers to her adoptive mother as both her “mama” and her grandmother, but it is unclear if Mrs. Charles was the biological or the adoptive mother of Beulah Sanders. Margaret Charles had been born in slavery in 1836 and sold to a family in the Alabama black belt for three dollars when she was thirteen Smith never knew who her father was and she never did ask because when she was a child you couldn t say things to old people like children say to old people now cause you got your tail tore up Smith 27 Although her grandmother was ...

Article

Richlyn Faye Goddard

distinguished herbalist, early medical practitioner of folk remedies, and known in New Jersey as the Black Doctor of the Pines, was a son of Charity and Levin Steel. Levin bought his own freedom and left the eastern shores of Maryland for New Jersey. His wife escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad and on joining her husband changed her given name from Charity to Sydney, and they changed their surname to Still. The couple made their way to Springtown, located in Greenwich Township in Cumberland County, New Jersey, established by freedmen around 1800. The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church can trace its beginnings in Springtown in 1810 and it played an important role in the Underground Railroad in this area The Stills settled in the forests of the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey near Medford in Burlington County where Levin sawed wood and chopped lumber for ...

Article

teacher and nurse during the Civil War, was born on the Isle of Wight, one of the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia, the eldest of nine children of slaves Hagar Ann Reed and Raymond Baker. When Susie was seven years of age, she and one of her brothers were allowed by their master to live in Savannah with their grandmother, Dolly Reed, a free person of color. Determined to see her grandchildren learn to read and write even though state law at the time prohibited the education of blacks, Reed found a way around the legislation; she sent the children to a secret school run by a friend. After two years, Susie attended another secret school followed by private tutoring also illegal By the time she was 12 Susie was one of probably only a few slaves in Georgia who had command of written ...

Article

Born a Georgia slave, Susie Baker King Taylor was quite young when an arrangement was made sending her to live with her grandmother in Savannah. She learned to read and write from two white children, even though doing so was illegal prior to the American Civil War. When war broke out Taylor moved with her uncle's family to the Sea Islands of South Carolina. The Union Army, fighting for these islands, pressed her into service as a teacher of freed slave children and adults. Soon after, the men in her family joined the Union's First South Carolina Infantry, and she traveled with them as a nurse and laundress. In 1862 she married one of the regiment's sergeants, Edward King. In her memoir, A Black Woman's Civil War Memoirs she recounted the events of her life in camp with the regiment She is the only black woman known ...

Article

Patricia W. Romero

Taylor is the only black woman to write of her participation in the Civil War, and it is for these experiences that she is remembered. A cursory reading of her memoir, however, reveals something as unique as Taylor’s reminiscences. Through oral tradition, Taylor traces her maternal line back to a great-great-grandmother who, she believed, lived to be 120 years old. According to family tradition, five of this woman’s sons served in the American Revolution, establishing the precedent for patriotism that Taylor would later follow. This female ancestor also must have been among the first African slaves brought to the colony of Georgia, which was founded in 1732. A daughter of this ancestor, Taylor’s great-grandmother, was said to have given birth to twenty-five children, only one of whom was a son. One of her many daughters was Taylor’s grandmother; born in 1820 she was responsible in part for Taylor ...

Article

Joycelyn K. Moody

Susie Reed was born a slave on the Isle of Wight, off the coast of Georgia, in 1848. As a child, she was educated surreptitiously by white schoolchildren and slave neighbors. Once literate, she endorsed counterfeit passes for other slaves, early demonstrating both a defiance against bondage and injustice and a commitment to African American education. During the Civil War, she attained freedom when an uncle took her with his family to St. Catherine Island, South Carolina, then under Union army administration. At age fourteen, she taught island children by day and conducted night classes for numerous adults. Later in 1862, she joined a troop of African American soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel C. T. Trowbridge, and served them as nurse, laundress, teacher, and cook. After the war, she and her first husband, Sergeant Edward King returned to Savannah where King died leaving her to ...