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George Yancy

philosopher and first African American to receive a PhD in Philosophy in the United States, was born enslaved of enslaved parents, Thomas Chadwick Baker, a Civil War veteran, and Edith (Nottingham) Baker, on Robert Nottingham's plantation in Northampton County, Virginia. Edith was the daughter of Southey and Sarah Nottingham of Northampton County. Thomas Nelson Baker was one of five children.

Describing the influences on his early intellectual life, Baker remembered:

My mother taught me my letters although I well remember when she learned them herself My first reading lesson was the second chapter of Matthew the Bible being the only book we had I never read a bad book in my life which is one of the blessings I got by being poor I began to attend the common schools at eight and learned to love books passionately I used to read through my recesses Evenings I read the Bible ...

Article

Frank A. Salamone

pioneer in discrediting the racist concepts that characterized early twentieth-century anthropology and other social sciences. Franz Boas was born in Minden, Germany. He received his PhD in physics from the University of Kiel in 1881, but he soon shifted interest into the field of human geography. In 1883 he conducted his first fieldwork, among the Inuit people of Baffin Island. In 1887 he began research among the Indians of the Pacific Northwest. In 1899 he became the first professor of anthropology at Columbia University. When Boas began his anthropological work, anthropology was far from being a scientific field. It was infested with racist practitioners and amateurs. Boas held that too often people developed theories and then sought to gather information to prove their theories.

Article

Katrina D. Thompson

chemist, social scientist, and writer, was born in Garfield Heights, Washington, D.C., the son of William Harrison Lewis and Mary (Over) Lewis, of whom little else is known. In 1899 there were only four academic public schools in the segregated Washington, D.C., area, and only one of these was open to African Americans. Lewis attended the noted Dunbar High School, then known as M Street School. Because African Americans with advanced degrees had few other opportunities, during the 1920s three Dunbar teachers held the PhD degree, which was certainly unusual and perhaps unique in American public secondary education.

After attending Dunbar, Lewis graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, with a bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1925 While at Brown Lewis became the first undergraduate initiate of the Alpha Gamma Chapter of the first African American fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha Two years after graduating ...

Article

Connie L. McNeely

educator, public intellectual, and advocate, was born Cora Elmira Bagley to Horace Bagley and Clorann (Boswell) Bagley in Richmond Virginia about seventy miles from the family s home in Kenbridge Virginia At that time the small town of Kenbridge lacked decent medical facilities for the 46 percent of its population who were African American and traveling to Richmond was one of the only options for those needing medical care Elmira as her family called her was the youngest of twelve children with a multitude of nieces and nephews Her father a carpenter and contractor for small building projects and her mother who spent most of her years as a housewife but worked from time to time as a maid recognized in the precocious Elmira a proclivity for learning and an insatiable thirst for knowledge Her mother especially stressed the importance of reading and constantly provided her ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

by all available evidence the first American of African descent to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology, was a founding father of that science as it became an organized professional field in America, and a leading pioneer in the development of linguistics, doing field research in Haiti, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and southern Africa. His wide range of professional affiliations included the American Anthropological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Sociological Association, the International African Institute, and the International Linguistic Association. In 1933, he was one of the first three African Americans admitted to the Society of Sigma Xi (Wright, p. 889).

Born in Huntsville, Texas, he was the son of Walter Watkins, a Baptist minister, and Laura Williams Watkins (Wright), whose Republican politics are reflected in naming their son for the party leader and wealthy Ohio senator, Mark Hanna He was the youngest ...