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Baye Yimam

Ethiopian painter, diplomat, customs director, entrepreneur, linguist, university professor, and novelist, was born in Zage, Gojjam province of Ethiopia, on 10 July 1868. His father, Gebre Iyesus Denke, was a priest serving a local church, and his mother, Fenta Tehun Adego Ayechew, was presumably a housewife. In Zage, then a center of learning, Afewerq learned the painting, poetry, church music, and liturgical dancing of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian tradition.

Afewerq was related to Empress Taytu Betul, wife of Emperor Menilek (1844–1913 on account of which he was brought to the palace to continue what he had started in Zage He was later sent to Italy to further his studies at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti in Turin Upon his return from Italy he began to produce mural paintings by order of the palace and decorated the churches at Entotto then the capital city However he soon ...

Article

Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor

historian of African Americans in South Dakota, civic leader, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, was born in Yankton, South Dakota, the youngest of eleven children of Henry and Mary (Fristoe) Blakey. The large, extended Blakey clan began migrating from Missouri to South Dakota in 1904, where they acquired land and built a profitable and respected truck gardening business. Young Blakey completed eighth grade in country school and worked in the family business. Beginning in the mid‐1960s Blakey returned to school at Springfield State College (which later closed), where he obtained his GED and completed advanced training in building maintenance and pest control. On 22 October 1948 he married Dorothy Edwards in Athabaska, Alberta, Canada; the couple had three children.

Blakey was an ambitious, self‐taught businessman with a keen interest in civic activities and public service. Of his three successful businesses, Blakey's Janitorial Services, established in 1956 provided jobs for both ...

Article

Nancy T. Robinson

historian, collector, archivist, photographer, and entrepreneur, was born Wallace Michael Branch in Brooklyn, New York, one of two sons of Byrd Branch, an entrepreneur who operated a cleaning and tailoring business in New York City and held down a thirty-five-year job at the weekly newspaper Irish Echo to support his family, and Vera Barbour Branch. In Brooklyn, Branch and his family lived a solid middle-class lifestyle, making their home in a four-floor brownstone home that they owned.

Branch was born with sickle cell anemia a hereditary incurable chronic disorder with which patients suffer severe pain and tissue and organ damage as a result of oxygen and nutrient deficiencies At the time of Branch s birth information about and treatment of the disease were limited According to his family doctors who treated Branch as a child never gave him much hope for survival At fourteen Branch became so ill that he ...

Article

Daryle Williams

alias Paula Brito, pardo writer, translator, and publishing entrepreneur, often called the father of the Brazilian black press. Born on 2 December 1809 to Jacinto Antunes Duarte, a carpenter, and Maria Joaquina da Conceição Brito, Paula Brito took the surname of his maternal grandfather, Martinho Pereira de Brito (c. 1730–1830), commander of a pardo (colored) militia regiment and a disciple of famed mulato sculptor Mestre Valentim. He spent his early childhood in Rio de Janeiro, a bustling Atlantic port-city undergoing tremendous changes following the arrival of the Portuguese Court in 1808, before settling in Suruhy, near the upper reaches of Guanabara Bay. The young boy learned to read and write in the household of his older sister.

Returning to the capital in 1824 Paula Brito entered the burgeoning world of print culture first as an apprentice in the national printing office and then as an editor for ...

Article

Juluette Bartlett Pack

president and chief executive officer of Oxen Hill Partners, a nationally known organization specializing in leadership development programs and brand enhancement strategies, was one of five children and the second daughter born to Ural Noble Langston, a construction worker, and Indiana Billingslea, a homemaker, in Canton, Georgia. Both Langston and her older sister, Patricia Ann were born in what was affectionately known as the “the Little House,” a wonderful three bedroom home built in the rear and to the side of the home owned by her paternal grandparents, Noble Langston and Roxie Upshaw. Her grandparents lived in “the Big House,” which was a lovely stucco and brick home that faced the highway that ran through the town of Canton.

When Marian was a year old her parents moved to Stratford Connecticut where they had three more children each one carrying a middle name in honor of ...

Article

Yvette Walker

poet, essayist, critic, publisher, and educator. Don L. Lee was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was raised in Detroit by his mother, Maxine Lee, who died of a drug overdose when he was sixteen years old. He has attributed his early race consciousness and self-awareness to his upbringing by his mother and his time as an apprentice and curator at the DuSable Museum of African History in Chicago in 1963. Influenced by the poets Amiri Baraka and Gwendolyn Brooks, Don L. Lee emerged as a major literary artist of the 1960s. His formal education includes undergraduate studies at various universities in Chicago and graduate school at the University of Iowa. Lee took a Swahili name, Haki R. Madhubuti, in 1973.

Madhubuti is one of the defining artists of the Black Arts Movement a cultural phenomenon of the 1960s and 1970s ...

Article

Reginald H. Pitts

inventor, entrepreneur, and historian, was born in what is now Gardiner, Maine, the son of Matthias Lewis, a farm laborer of Mohegan Indian ancestry. Nothing is now known of Lewis's mother. Sometime after 28 July 1800 Lewis's father married Lucy Stockbridge of Pittston, Maine, the daughter of African slaves. It is not known whether this marriage legalized a longstanding relationship or was Matthias's actual second marriage.

Although little is known of Lewis's early life, it appears that he first went to sea in ships that worked the Atlantic rim and the coastal trade down to the Caribbean. It is known that Lewis wanted to become a missionary to Africa; after his death, his neighbors remembered, “it was said … that the Congregational Church in Hallowell [where Lewis moved around 1820 had in consequence of the intelligence he had manifested in youth obtained for him an ...

Article

SaFiya D. Hoskins

author, educator, and poet, was born Don Luther Lee, in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Maxine Lee and an unknown father. In 1943 his family migrated to Detroit, Michigan. Lee's father deserted the family before his baby sister was born. His mother began working as a janitor and barmaid to support her two children. Lee's mother introduced him to the Detroit Public Library, where he spent hours at a time reading. His mother, the person he credits with his interest in black arts, died of a drug overdose when he was sixteen. Upon her death he moved to Chicago, Illinois, and attended Dunbar Vocational High School. His love for reading continued to flourish as he explored works by authors such as Chester Himes, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Jean Toomer. Lee graduated in 1960 and began selling magazines when he could not ...

Article

Joyce A. Joyce

Given the name Don L. Lee, Haki R. Madhubuti changed his name in 1973 as a result of the ideological influences of the Black Arts movement, of which he was a highly visible member. He was born 23 February 1942 in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1943 he and his parents migrated to Detroit, Michigan, where his father deserted the family before the birth of Madhubuti's sister. In order to cope with poverty and feed her two children, his mother worked as a janitor and a barmaid, eventually becoming an alcoholic and a drug addict. When Madhubuti was sixteen, his mother died from a drug overdose.

This woman, Maxine Lee, was the prime mover behind the creative force that Haki R. Madhubuti has become. When Madhubuti was thirteen years old, his mother asked him to check out for her Richard Wright's Black Boy from the Detroit Public ...

Article

Grant Lilford

Lesotho novelist, editor, commentator, and entrepreneur, was born in 1877, in Khojane Village, Mafeteng, Lesotho, to Abner and Aleta Mofolo, both Christians. He was baptized in the church of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society. His parents moved to the Qomoqomong valley shortly after his birth.

He attended a local school in Quthing and then worked for the Reverend Alfred Casalis, who recognized his enthusiasm and intelligence and sponsored his further studies for three years at the Mountain School in Morija. Mofolo then worked at the Morija Book Depot from 1899 before studying carpentry and becoming a teacher. He returned to the Book Depot and wrote Moeti oa Bochabela from 1905 to 1906. He left the Book Depot in 1910 to seek work in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and to work in Johannesburg, either in the mines or as a court interpreter. In 1912 he returned to Lesotho ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Togolese politician, was born on 26 December 1936 in the Togolese capital of Lomé. He was the third child of Sylvanus Olympio and Dinah Olympio. Sylvanus was one of the leading Togolese politicians of the late colonial and early independence era and was president of Togo from 1958 to 1963.

Like his siblings, Olympio received an advanced education thanks to the affluence of his family. He attended primary school at Notre Dame de Sacré Coeur de Lomé. After attending secondary school at Prince of Wales College in Accra, Ghana, he commenced his undergraduate studies at Hamilton College in the United States in 1958. There he developed his lifelong passion for economics. He continued his studies at the London School of Economics in 1959 and then at Oxford University Olympio eventually received a doctorate in economics from Oxford thanks to a scholarship from the Oppenheimer Foundation He completed ...

Article

Gloria Chuku

a local ruler in Nigeria, was most likely born in the late nineteenth century in the northern Igbo village of Umuida in Enugu-Ezike town, near present-day Nsukka. Her father, Ugbabe Ayibi, was a farmer and palm-wine tapper, and her mother, Anekwu Ameh, was a farmer and petty trader. As a teenager she moved to Igala country, perhaps to avoid being dedicated as a living sacrifice to the Ohe Goddess of Enugu-Ezike in payment for a crime committed by her father, or possibly because she was sold into slavery there. Or it may simply be that she sought the life of a “free woman.” Whatever was the case, what is certain is that Ahebi had some Igala connections prior to her disappearance from home. Members of her extended family and lineage were of Igala origin, aiding her integration into that community.

However Ahebi got to Igala country it is possible that ...