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Gloria Chuku

journalist and president of Nigeria, was born into the family of Obededan Chukwuemeka Azikiwe, a clerk with the Nigerian Regiment of the West African Frontier Force in the northern Nigerian Hausa town of Zungeru. Later known affectionately as Zik, as a child, Nnamdi learned Hausa before his parents sent him to Onitsha, their Igbo hometown, for his primary education in 1912. In 1918, he graduated from Christ Church School, Onitsha, and he briefly taught there as a pupil teacher (1918–1920).

His education also took him to the Efik town of Calabar where he enrolled in the prestigious Hope Waddell Training Institute Following his father s transfer to Lagos Nnamdi moved with the family and enrolled at the Wesleyan Boys High School Lagos a predominant Yoruba town By the time he graduated from high school Nnamdi had acquired three major Nigerian languages Hausa Igbo and Yoruba and ...


A member of the Igbo people of western Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe was educated at mission schools in the city of Lagos. He worked briefly as a clerk for the national treasury at Lagos, but in 1925 he left Nigeria in 1925, a stowaway on a ship bound for the United States. There, he studied history and political science while supporting himself as a coal miner, casual laborer, dishwasher, and boxer. As a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, Azikiwe became familiar with black activist Marcus Garvey and the Back to Africa movement.

In 1934 Azikiwe moved to Ghana, became editor of the Africa Morning Post, and published Liberia in World Affairs, a book about another West African nation. He published Renascent Africa in 1937 That same year he returned to Nigeria where he joined the executive committee of the Nigerian Youth ...


Cynthia Neverdon-Morton

Janie Porter Barrett was born in Athens, Georgia, the daughter of Julia Porter. Various biographical accounts indicate that Janie's parents were former slaves, while others speculate that her father was white. Little is known about either parent. During her early childhood, Janie resided in the home of the Skinners, a white family whom her mother served as housekeeper. After her mother's marriage to a railway worker, Janie remained with the Skinners, who encouraged her to further her education.

Though the Skinners suggested that she move North, Janie, at her mother's urging, attended Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia, graduating in 1884. While at Hampton, she became convinced that it was her duty as an educated black woman to assiduously work for the betterment of all African Americans. That belief led her to teach in Dawson, Georgia, and at Lucy Craft Laney s Haines Normal and ...


Joanne Collins-Gonsalves

was born Olga Lowe on 16 September 1920 in Berbice, British Guiana (now Guyana). A brilliant student, she excelled in her studies and selected education as her chosen career path. She read for and received her teacher’s certificate from the Government Training College in 1941. Olga Bone furthered her tertiary education by obtaining a diploma of education from the University of Birmingham in England, from which she graduated in 1959. She also pursued a master’s degree in education at the University of Chicago, where she specialized in the areas of measurement, evaluation, and statistical analysis, graduating in 1963. Bone enhanced her qualifications through a specialized course in educational testing at Princeton University in 1970.

As an educator she taught in Guyana at St Patrick s and the All Saints Anglican schools both in Berbice While in Georgetown she taught at the Bel Air and Redeemer Lutheran ...


educator, was born Lottie Hawkins in Henderson, North Carolina, the daughter of Edmund H. Hight, a brick mason, and Caroline Frances Hawkins. Accounts vary as to whether her father and mother separated before or after her birth, and it is also unclear whether her parents ever married. After her mother married Nelson Willis, Lottie (as she was called until she changed her name to Charlotte Eugenia in high school) relocated with nineteen members of her extended family to Massachusetts in 1888. By joining the widespread migration of African Americans, the family hoped to enjoy greater economic opportunities and a better life. After settling in Cambridge, her stepfather worked odd jobs to support the family, while her mother boarded African American Harvard students, operated a laundry, and babysat. Hawkins began her elementary education at the Allston School in Cambridge, where she befriended two of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ...


Valinda Littlefield

Born Lottie Hawkins in Henderson, North Carolina, Charlotte Eugenia Hawkins Brown was the daughter of Carolina Frances Hawkins and Edmund H. Hight. Her mother and stepfather, Nelson Willis, along with nineteen extended family members, moved from Henderson to Cambridge, Massachusetts, when Lottie was seven years old. After graduating from high school and changing her name to Charlotte Eugenia, Brown attended the State Normal School in Salem, Massachusetts, for two years.

In 1901 Brown accepted a position with the American Missionary Association AMA to teach at a one room school housed in a run down church in Sedalia North Carolina The AMA a nondenominational society worked to develop educational opportunities for African Americans during and after the Civil War and founded more than five hundred schools for blacks in the South Brown s school consisted of fifty children from the surrounding poor area of Guilford County North ...


Robert Fay

Charlotte Hawkins Brown was born Lottie Hawkins in Henderson, North Carolina, to Caroline Frances Hawkins and Edmund H. Hight. In 1888 Caroline and her new husband, Nelson Willis, moved the family to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they operated a laundry as well as a boardinghouse for Harvard students. Around the time Lottie graduated from Cambridge English High School, she changed her name to the more serious-sounding Charlotte Eugenia. She attracted the interest and support of Alice Freeman Palmer, who financed Hawkins's education at State Normal School in Salem, Massachusetts.

In 1902 Hawkins founded the Alice Freeman Palmer Institute in Sedalia, North Carolina, in honor of her mentor. In 1911 Hawkins married Edmund S. Brown, a teacher at Palmer Institute; the couple divorced in 1915 Although Palmer Institute began as a vocational school its curriculum evolved until it became a strictly academic institution It was considered ...


Carolyn Wedin

educator. Born in Henderson, North Carolina, to Caroline Frances Hawkins, an unwed mother of sixteen, at age six “Lottie” moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her mother, with her mother's new husband, Nelson Willis, with her brother Mingo, and with several cousins and aunts. Brown excelled at the Allston Grammar School and Cambridge English High School. The whole family worked, from doing laundry to taking in boarders. Pushing a baby carriage with one hand and reading her Latin book in the other, Brown encountered Alice Freeman Palmer, president of Wellesley College, and with Palmer's assistance she ended up attending the State Normal School in Salem. Another chance encounter led to a job offer from the American Missionary Association (AMA); she accepted a teaching position at Bethany Institute, a small school in Sedalia, outside Greensboro, North Carolina.

Within a year the AMA closed the school and the ...


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 ...


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 ...


Carroll L. Miller

Ambrose Caliver was born in Saltsville, Virginia, on February 25, 1894, the son of Ambrose and Cora (Saunders) Caliver. His education in the public schools of Virginia and of Knoxville, Tennessee, was followed by collegiate work at Knoxville College, from which he received a B.A. degree in 1915. Five years later, the University of Wisconsin awarded him an M.A. degree, and in 1930 he received a Ph.D. degree from Columbia University.

His professional experience began in 1916, when he became a high school principal in Rockwood, Tennessee, and an assistant principal of Douglass High School in El Paso, Texas. His first appointment in higher education came in 1917 at Fisk University At Fisk Caliver was asked to develop a program of training in manual arts an area in which he had a special interest In his opinion the complete education of the individual involved ...


Lee Jr. Williams

educator, college administrator, and civil servant, was born in Saltville, Virginia, the youngest child of Ambrose Caliver Sr. Little is known about his parents, but very early in his life he and his two siblings moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where they were raised by an aunt, Louisa Bolden. Bolden, a widowed cook who took in boarders to make ends meet, allowed Caliver to accept a job at a very young age. According to one account, the young Caliver was working in a coal mine by the time of his eighth birthday. Early employment, however, did not prevent him from attending school regularly. After receiving an education from Knoxville's public school system, he enrolled at Knoxville College, where he obtained his BA in 1915. He eventually earned an MA from the University of Wisconsin (1920) and a PhD from Columbia University (1930).

After graduating from ...


Sandria Green-Stewart

was born on 21 April 1925 in Bunker’s Hill, Trelawny, Jamaica, to Robert Patterson, a butcher and farmer, and Carolyn Anderson-Patterson, a seamstress. She recalled that her father wanted her to become a nurse, but that as a child she “was teaching everything in sight” (interview with author). Patterson attended Unity All-Age School and Bethlehem Teachers’ College, and after graduating in the mid-1940s taught at Tweedside Primary School, in the parish of Clarendon, where she was responsible for three classes. At Tweedside she began a career in teaching that lasted more than forty years.

Patterson completed the General Certificate of Education, Advanced Level (GCE A-Level) through independent learning. After securing a government scholarship, she attended the University of the West Indies, where she received a bachelor’s degree in education in 1951. On 15 April 1953 she married Alvin S Chambers and a year later the couple moved to ...


Born in Salisbury, North Carolina, Rufus Early Clement was the son of George Clinton Clement, a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. After graduating as valedictorian of Livingstone College in Salisbury in 1922, he taught there, eventually becoming a professor and dean. He also received a B.D. from Garrett Biblical Institute (now Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary) in 1922 and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1922 and 1930, respectively.

In 1931 Clement became the first dean of the all-black branch of the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Six years later he was appointed president of Atlanta University in Georgia. His history-making election to the Atlanta school board occurred in 1954. Through his participation in the Civil Rights Movement, Clement helped integrate public schools, fought for voting rights, and helped end segregation in downtown Atlanta.

See also Reconstruction.


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 ...


Sterling Stuckey

educator, was born Vivian Elma Johnson in Colliersville, Tennessee, the daughter of Spencer Johnson, a farmer, and Caroline Alley, a teacher. One of eight children, Vivian grew up under the enterprising spirit of her parents, both of whom were born in slavery. That her mother was the first black schoolteacher in Fayette County, Tennessee, set a special standard of achievement for Vivian and her seven siblings. The family moved to Memphis when she was very young, and the decision was made to favor the girls with a higher education. All four were to graduate from college, but Vivian, thanks to the financial assistance of a brother, the inventor and railway postal clerk Thomas W. Johnson, was able to attend Howard University and later earn a master's degree in English from Columbia University.

In 1912 the year of her graduation from Howard Vivian accepted a post at ...


W. Farrell O'Gorman

Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr., was born in Bardstown, Kentucky, the son of Michael (also spelled Micheil) Cotter, a boarding house owner, and Martha Vaughn. Although his father was known as an avid reader, Cotter was raised largely by his mother, a freeborn woman of mixed English, Cherokee, and African blood. It was from her naturally dramatic manner—she orally composed poems and plays as she worked at chores—that he acquired his love of language and stories. Having taught herself, she also taught Cotter to read and enrolled him in school, but at age eight economic necessity forced him to drop out and begin working at various jobs: in a brickyard, then a distillery, and finally as a ragpicker and a teamster. Until age twenty-two, manual labor consumed much of Cotter's life.

The friendship of prominent black Louisville educator Dr. William T. Peyton who sensed Cotter s natural intelligence ...


James Robert Payne

Born near Bardstown, Kentucky, Joseph Seamon Cotter had to leave school at age eight to work at a variety of jobs because of family financial exigencies. Cotter had been a precocious child, learning to read at the age of three from a mother who had the gifts, as Cotter wrote later, of “a poet, storyteller, a maker of plays.” When Cotter was twenty-two the prominent Louisville educator William T. Peyton encouraged the promising young man to return to school. After some remediation and two night school sessions, Cotter was able to begin his teaching career. His first Louisville position was at the Western Colored School, where he began in 1889. He went on to a career of more than fifty years as teacher and administrator with the Louisville public schools. In 1891 Cotter married his fellow educator Maria F. Cox with whom he had three children including the ...


Marilyn Demarest Button

educator, administrator, writer, and activist, was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of Thomas Cornelius Cuthbert and Victoria Means. She attended grammar and secondary school in her hometown and studied at the University of Minnesota before transferring to Boston University, where she completed her BA in 1920.

Following her graduation, Cuthbert moved to Florence, Alabama, and became an English teacher and assistant principal at Burrell Normal School. Promoted to principal in 1925, she began to lead students and faculty in bold new perspectives on gender equality and interracial harmony.

In 1927 Cuthbert left Burrell to become one of the first deans of Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. In her essay, “The Dean of Women at Work,” published in the Journal of the National Association of College Women (Apr. 1928 she articulated her belief that covert sexism at the administrative level of black colleges limited their ...


Connie Park Rice

educator, administrator, and civil rights pioneer, was born in Milledgeville, Georgia. At the age of five, Davis was sent to live with distant relatives, Mr. and Mrs. Sylvannus Carter, in Americus, Georgia. An itinerant preacher, Carter instilled both moral values and a deep appreciation for education in the young Davis. Davis attended secondary school and college at the Atlanta Baptist College (Morehouse College), and worked summers in the Chicago stockyards of Swift & Company to raise money to pay for his education. He graduated from Morehouse College with a bachelor's degree in 1911. Encouraged and aided by John Hope, the president of Morehouse College, Davis enrolled as a graduate student in chemistry and physics at the University of Chicago. He then returned to Morehouse College in 1914, where he taught those subjects, served as the registrar, and was a part-time football assistant.

In ...