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Shari Rudavsky

Numa Pompilius Garfield Adams was born in Delaplane, Virginia. Little is known about Adams's family and early life. He attended a country school run by his uncle Robert Adams. Adams received additional instruction and inspiration from his grandmother Amanda, a midwife who shared with him the secrets of herbal medicine. When Adams was thirteen, his family moved to Steelton, Pennsylvania. Soon Adams taught himself how to read music and purchased a used cornet, which he taught himself to play, a skill that later helped him pay for his education.

After graduating from high school in 1905, Adams spent a year as a substitute teacher in Steelton and another year teaching seventh grade in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. These jobs helped him earn sufficient money to pay for his college education, and in 1907 he left Pennsylvania to enter Howard University in Washington, D.C. He soon joined the Lyric ...

Article

Shari Rudavsky

physician and medical educator, was born in Delaplane, Virginia. Little is known about Adams's family and early life. He attended a country school run by his uncle, Robert Adams. Numa received additional instruction and inspiration from his grandmother Amanda, a midwife who shared with him the secrets of herbal medicine. When Numa Adams was thirteen, his family moved to Steelton, Pennsylvania. Soon Adams taught himself how to read music and purchased a used cornet, which he taught himself how to play.

After graduating from high school in 1905, Adams spent a year as a substitute teacher in Steelton and another year teaching seventh grade in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. These jobs helped him earn sufficient money to pay for his college education, and in 1907 he left Pennsylvania to enter Howard University in Washington D C He soon joined the Lyric Orchestra a dance band composed mostly of ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Nannie Helen Burroughs was born in Orange, Virginia, to John and Jennie Poindexter Burroughs. She later moved with her mother and sister to Washington, D.C. In that district she graduated from the Colored High School in 1896 and took a job at the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, office of the Christian Banner. Burroughs then moved to Louisville, Kentucky, and worked as a bookkeeper and editorial secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention (NBC). She also organized the Women's Industrial Club there.

At the NBC annual meeting in 1900, Burroughs gave an impassioned speech entitled “How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping.” She went on to found the Women's Convention, an auxiliary to the NBC, serving as its secretary for forty-eight years, from 1900 to 1948, and as president from 1948 to 1961. In 1907 Burroughs claimed that the Women ...

Article

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham

As a national leader in education at age twenty-one, Nannie Helen Burroughs was catapulted to fame after presenting the speech “How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping” at the annual conference of the National Baptist Convention (NBC) in Richmond, Virginia, in 1900. Her outspoken eloquence articulated the righteous discontent of women in the black Baptist church and served as a catalyst for the formation of the largest black women’s organization in America—the Woman’s Convention Auxiliary to the NBC. Some called her an upstart because she led the organization in the struggle for women’s rights, antilynching laws, desegregation, and industrial education for black women and girls. Most people, however, considered her an organizational genius. At the helm of the National Baptist Woman’s Convention for more than six decades, Burroughs remained a tireless and intrepid champion of black pride and women’s rights.

Burroughs was born in Orange, Virginia to John ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

Jewel Plummer Cobb was born in Chicago, Illinois. By her sophomore year in high school, she had begun to work toward her goal of becoming a biologist. She received a bachelor's degree in biology from Talladega College in Alabama in 1944. She then studied cell physiology at New York University, earning a master's degree in 1947 and a Ph.D. in 1950.

Cobb continued her research at several different universities and eventually became involved in university administration. She was president of California State University at Fullerton and dean at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, Connecticut College, and Douglass College in New Jersey. Cobb became trustee professor of the California State University System in 1990. In 2001 she received the Reginald Wilson Award from the American Council on Education Office of Minorities in Higher Education for her career achievements in promoting diversity in higher education Cobb ...

Article

Benjamin A. Jackson

research biologist, educator, and college administrator, was born in Chicago. Her mother, Carriebel Cole, was a physical education teacher who taught interpretive dance in the public schools. Her father, Frank Victor Plummer, a physician, graduated from Cornell University in 1908 and subsequently from Rush Medical School in Chicago. He was an early member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first national Greek letter fraternity for black men.

The Plummer family strongly emphasized education Cobb s parents circle of friends included black writers historians and artists As a member of the upper middle class she enjoyed many more educational cultural and social advantages than did most African American children of that era She had access to a library in her home that included scientific texts belonging to her father Not surprisingly Cobb developed an early interest in science Her interest in biology developed when she was a high school sophomore ...

Article

Paulette Coleman

medical educator, medical school administrator, researcher, and immunologist, was born Anna Cherrie in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Dr. Ernest Cherrie Sr., a radiologist who practiced family medicine, and Ann Cherrie, a former schoolteacher who became a full-time homemaker after marriage. Cherrie's brother, Ernest Cherrie Jr., became a physician like his father. In spite of her upbringing in the segregated South, Cherrie and her brother were shielded from the harsh realities of racism. Books, classical music, stimulating conversation, and a parade of accomplished visitors like Andrew Young Sr., father of former congressman, U.N. ambassador, and Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, and Ernest Nathan (Dutch) Morial who became the first African American mayor of New Orleans were fixtures of her privileged environment Precocious Cherrie was close to her father who instilled in her the importance of service to others a strong work ...

Article

Denise Burrell-Stinson

writer and professor, was born Percival Leonard Everett II, the elder of the two children of Percival Leonard Everett, a dentist, and Dorothy (Stinson) Everett, who assisted her husband in his practice for thirty years. The younger Percival was born on a U.S. Army base in Fort Gordon, Georgia, while his father was assigned a post as a sergeant and communications specialist. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where he spent his childhood, eventually graduating from A. C. Flora High School in 1974.

The climate of Everett s youth was stimulating nurturing a strong intellect The senior Everett was part of a long family legacy in the field of medicine his own father and two brothers were all doctors and he was also a voracious reader filling the family home with books The younger Everett inherited his father s literary ...

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Rosalyn Mitchell Patterson

professor of physiology, research physiologist, and medical college administrator, was born Eleanor Lutia Ison, the elder of two daughters born in Dublin, Georgia, to Luther Lincoln Ison, a high school teacher, and Rose Mae Oliver Ison, a teacher and accomplished musician. She attended high schools in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and Quitman, Georgia, before moving with her family to Monroe, Georgia, in the 1940s. Franklin graduated from the Carver High School in 1944 as valedictorian of her class.

At the age of fifteen Franklin entered Spelman College, with the intent to become a doctor. However, under the guidance and tutelage of Dr. Helen T. Albro, chair of the Biology Department, and Dr. Barnett F. Smith professor of biology and Wisconsin graduate she chose to pursue postgraduate study in endocrinology and physiology at the University of Wisconsin Franklin who had played piano and oboe in ...

Article

Audra J. Wolfe

physicist, was born in Woodville, Texas, the oldest son of John Alexander Hunter and Mary Evelyn Virginia (Edwards) Hunter His father a former school principal had moved to Texas from Louisiana soon after his marriage to Edwards who had been one of his students His mother was a teacher home demonstration agent and administrator The young family only stayed in Woodville for about a year before moving again first to La Porte and later to Jennings Island Texas where Hunter s father secured a ninety nine year lease on a property and began developing a ranch Hunter s father taught Hunter and his brother at home for the first five grades Once he was officially enrolled in classes at La Porte Texas Hunter had to cross two and a half miles of open water to reach the classroom He completed his secondary education at Prairie View State Normal ...

Article

Stephen Truhon

educator and psychologist, was born in News Ferry, Virginia, to Annie Vassar and Thomas Long. During his childhood, his family moved to Richmond, where he attended and graduated from Wayland Academy, then part of Virginia Union University. He continued his education at Virginia Union University and transferred to Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he received Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education degrees in 1915. He attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, as a University Fellow, where he received an M.A. in Psychology in 1916 under the direction of G. Stanley Hall, considered one of the founders of American psychology. Long was arguably the first black to receive a postgraduate degree in psychology in the United States.

He was accepted in the doctoral program in psychology at Clark University, which included a scholarship, but did not attend. He taught psychology at Howard University from 1916 ...

Article

Olivia A. Scriven

deputy and acting U.S. surgeon general, college president, and advocate for minority, women, and children's health, was born Audrey Elaine Forbes, the eldest of three girls born to Jesse Lee Forbes, a tailor, and Ora Lee Buckhalter, a machine operator and seamstress, in Jackson, Mississippi. As a child Forbes picked cotton in the fields of Tougaloo and watched her mother suffer from mental illness. By the time she was twelve she knew she wanted to become a physician but was told “poor girls, especially poor Black girls from Mississippi, don't become doctors” (Oxygen, 2001).

Undaunted, Forbes held onto her dreams, even after she and her two younger sisters, Yvonne and Barbara were left with their grandparents as their mother and father searched for work in Chicago Forbes settled in taking upper level math and science classes in junior ...

Article

Audra J. Wolfe

microbiologist, was born in Columbus, Ohio, the youngest of William E. and Margaret Moore's three children. Moore's father worked as an electrician for a local manufacturing firm; all five members of the Moore family were listed as “mulattos” in the 1910 census. Ruth Moore completed her entire education within Columbus, enrolling at Ohio State University for her BS (1926), MA (1927), and PhD (1933); the latter two degrees were awarded in the field of microbiology. She taught both hygiene and English at Tennessee State College, a historically black college, to support herself during graduate school (1927–1930).

Moore was not only the first African American woman to receive a PhD in Microbiology but she was also the first African American woman to receive a PhD in the Natural Sciences. Her dissertation focused on the bacteriology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis the organism that ...

Article

Vernon J. Williams

biologist, university administrator, and public policy maker, was born in Macon, Georgia, the son of James Madison Nabrit, a Baptist minister and educator, and Augusta Gertrude West. The elder Nabrit, who taught at Central City College and later at Walker Baptist Institute, encouraged his son to prepare for a career in higher education by studying Latin, Greek, and physics. Samuel rounded out his education by playing football and baseball, and honed his managerial and journalistic skills working on his high school (and later college) student newspaper. He entered Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1921, and after receiving a traditional liberal arts education, was awarded a BS in 1925. Samuel's brother, James Madison Nabrit Jr., was an important aide in the NAACP's legal team during the 1950s. Working closely with Thurgood Marshall in his unsuccessful attempts to begin the desegregation of graduate ...

Article

Adebe DeRango-Adem

was born in Glen Cove, New York to Hettie Armstrong Pierce and Samuel R. Pierce, who worked in a country club on Long Island. Both parents were working class migrants from the South. The U.S. Census for 1930 records that three-year-old Chester was living with his father, mother, a newborn brother Burton, and an elder brother, Samuel R. Pierce, Jr., who would later serve as President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

After completing his education as an honor student at Glen Cove High School, Chester Pierce matriculated at Harvard College earning a Bachelor’s Degree in 1948 and his M D degree from the Harvard Medical School four years later In addition to his strengths as an academic Pierce also proved to be an outstanding athlete starring on the Harvard College football basketball and lacrosse teams Many sources credit Pierce as the first ...

Article

Robert Fikes

physicist and university administrator, was born in Houston, Texas, to Frank Thornton, a laborer, and Mary Jane Sullivan, a midwife. Thornton graduated from Houston Colored High School, which reached only the eleventh grade, and later attended Los Angeles Polytechnic High School to earn credits in language and mathematics to satisfy college entrance requirements. Rejected for military service in the Army Corps of Engineers because of his race, he enrolled in the Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, Ohio, but again was forced to change his plans when he was denied access to the school's racially segregated army training program. Upon entering Howard University in 1918, his perfect test scores in mathematics and science enabled him to attain a position as a student teacher. Thornton graduated from Howard with a bachelor's degree in Mathematics and Physics in 1922 and earned his master s degree in ...

Article

astrophysicist and university administrator, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Arthur Bertram Cuthbert Walker Sr., a lawyer, and Hilda Forte, a social worker. At age five his family moved to New York City. Thanks to his mother, who recognized the boy's fondness for science and repeatedly intervened to prevent teachers from discouraging him, Walker enrolled in the Bronx High School of Science, where his interest in chemistry and physics heightened. In 1957 he graduated with honors in physics from the Case Institute of Technology (later Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, Ohio. He was elected to Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society, in 1955, and to Sigma Xi, a scientific research society, in 1960. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with the aid of fellowships and a research assistantship, Walker earned his master's degree in 1958 and a doctorate ...