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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 ...

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pioneering Nigerian feminist, civil servant, and democratic activist, was born on 17 December 1923 in Okeigbo, a small town in present-day Ondo State, Nigeria. Her full name was Felicia Folayegbe Mosunmola Idowu Akintunde-Ighodalo. Her parents were Benjamin Olojomo Akintunde, a farmer, and Sarah (Ogunkemi) Akintunde, a direct descendant of the war leader and uncrowned Ooni-elect Derin Ologbenla of the Giesi Ruling House of Ile-Ife. Fola, as she was known, was their fourth, but first surviving, child. Although her parents were early converts to the Christian Missionary Society (CMS) mission in Ondo, she grew up in a family compound whose members also included followers of traditional Yoruba religious practices and Islam. Her father encouraged her to be self-reliant and assertive even if her actions sometimes disregarded gender expectations.

Young Fola Akintunde attended the local mission school whose headmaster recognized her potential and persuaded her father to allow her to complete primary ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Nigerian educator, civil servant, and women’s rights activist, was born in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, on 17 May 1925. Her family was extremely affluent, as she was the daughter of Sir Adesiji Aderemi (1889–1890), the traditional king of the city of Ile-Ife, one of the most important sacred sites in the spiritual traditions of the Yoruba people. One of her sisters, Awujoola Adesomi Olagbaju, went on to become a schoolteacher and headmaster in her own right.

Alakija received her early education in Nigeria. She attended the Aiyetoro Primary and the Aiyetoro Central Schools in Ile-Ife from 1933 to 1937. She also studied at the Kudeti Primary boarding school in Ibadan for a time. Eventually Alakija moved to England in 1946, where she enrolled in Westfield College at the University of London. She acquired her undergraduate degree in 1950 in history and then proceeded to continue her ...

Article

lawyer, businessman, and secretary of the army, was born in New York City, the only child of Clifford Leopold Sr. and Edith McAllister. Alexander's father, a Jamaican native, became an apartment building manager of Harlem's Young Christian Association. His mother was from Yonkers, New York, where she worked for a real estate firm. Later she headed the New York City welfare department. She was the first African American woman to get elected to the Democratic Party's Electoral College. In this position she became a prominent figure in the broader civil rights struggle. Both parents inspired Alexander's later work to end racial discrimination.

Alexander spent his childhood in New York City. He received his early education at the Ethical Cultural School and Fieldston Schools in the Bronx. After graduating from high school, Alexander went to Harvard University. Here he met McGeorge Bundy Harvard s Dean of Arts ...

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André Willis

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Alexander graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1920 and Harvard Law School in 1923, a time when very few African Americans gained admittance to Ivy League schools. Alexander enjoyed a successful career in private practice, directly challenging racism and discrimination and helping end segregation in a number of Philadelphia institutions, before becoming counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Between 1933 and 1935 Alexander served as president of the National Bar Association and sought a federal appointment. Although the prevailing racial climate made it difficult for him to break into national politics, Alexander was appointed honorary consul to the Republic of Haiti in 1938. He was considered for an ambassadorship to Ethiopia in 1951, but although he had President Truman's support, he was not confirmed. From 1951 to 1958 Alexander committed himself to ...

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David Alvin Canton

lawyer and judge, was the third of five children born to Hillard Boone Alexander, a laborer from Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and Virginia Pace, from Essex County, Virginia. Alexander's parents were born slaves, but were freed by the Thirteenth Amendment following the Civil War. In 1880 they migrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they lived in the Seventh Ward, a community that would later be made famous by W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal 1899 study The Philadelphia Negro. In 1903Alexander's mother died of pneumonia. Because his father worked long hours, Alexander and his siblings moved to North Philadelphia to live with his maternal aunt, Georgia Chandler Pace From the age of seven Alexander attended school and worked at various jobs including dockworker newspaper boy general helper at the Metropolitan Opera House in North Philadelphia Pullman porter and when he was in his early twenties ...

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Cyril Daddieh

Ivorian lawyer diplomat politician mayor and cabinet minister was born in Toumodi a town about 25 miles from Yamoussoukro Ivory Coast s capital The son of an ordinary Baoulé peasant he attended a public primary school in Toumodi run by Kablan Koizan one of the very first Ivorian primary school teachers in the colony He attended middle school in Bingerville and the École Normale William Ponty in Dakar While in Senegal he met Richard Mollard a visiting French professor who encouraged him to study law He recommended the University of Grenoble because the climate was more congenial and Grenoble s serene surroundings were conducive to serious academic studies Alliali did not want to go down the path of becoming a colonial administrator an agent of oppression at a time when the anticolonial struggle led by the Parti Démocratique de Côte d Ivoire Rassemblement Démocratique Africain PDCI RDA was in full ...

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Teresa A. Booker

attorney, politician, and diplomat, was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the youngest of two children and the only son of Charles W. Anderson Sr., a physician, and Tabitha L. Murphy, a teacher.

Motivated by the high value that his parents placed on education, Charles W. Anderson Jr. entered Kentucky State College at age fifteen and attended from 1922 to 1925. He then transferred to Wilberforce University, one of the earliest universities established for African Americans. Although the reason for Anderson's transfer to Wilberforce University during the penultimate year of his undergraduate career is unclear, it is likely that he, like other black Kentuckians, was forced to pursue higher education outside of the state because of the still-standing Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 authorizing separate but equal educational facilities Higher educational institutions for blacks did not exist in Kentucky and rather than wait for them ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

journalist, war correspondent, railway mail clerk, and postal worker union activist, whose career rebounded repeatedly from the impact of his abrasive style on supervisors and fellow workers, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, the son of Trezzvant E. Anderson and Amanda (Dixon) Anderson. In 1930 he and his sister, Roberta Anderson, were living in Charlotte with a stepfather, Robert Alexander, who was born in Virginia.

Trezzvant Anderson enrolled at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte in 1921, where he edited the campus paper, the University Student. He left in 1927, a year short of graduation, and worked as a railway mail clerk in Charlotte and in Washington, D.C., until 1941, while also taking on a variety of writing assignments. He was contributing editor of the Charlotte Post (1928–1929), special feature writer for the Norfolk, Virginia, Journal and Guide ...

Article

Joseph Appiah was born in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti region in the British colony of Gold Coast (present-day Ghana). His father, an expert in Asante law, served at the court of the Asantehene, the traditional Asante ruler. As a boy, Appiah attended primary school in Kumasi and secondary school in Cape Coast. After graduation he worked at the United Africa Company, the largest British trading firm in West and Central Africa. He then traveled to Great Britain in 1943 to study law at the Middle Temple, a prestigious center for legal education. While in Britain, Appiah developed a close friendship with future Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah and became involved in the Ghanaian independence movement. When Nkrumah returned to Ghana after the formation of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Appiah served as his representative in Britain. He returned to Ghana in 1954 after becoming a member of ...

Article

Henry Louis Gates

Ghanaian politician and diplomat, was born on 16 November 1918 and raised in Kumasi, the capital of Ghana’s Ashanti region. His father was James Appiah, headmaster of the Wesleyan school in Kumasi and secretary of the Asanteman Council, a chiefly body that helped govern Ashanti. He was also secretary to his brother-in-law, the Ashanti king. His mother, who died when he was a child, was the niece of a prominent Cape Coast–based businessman, who, as head of Appiah’s matrilineal family, played a central role in his upbringing. Appiah attended the elite Methodist secondary school at Cape Coast, Mfantsipim. He joined the management of the United Africa Company after graduation, was posted in Sierra Leone during World War II, and traveled in 1944 to Britain where he studied law and became a member of the Middle Temple In the following decade Appiah was an activist in the pro independence West ...

Article

Francisco Ortega

Jorge Artel, whose real name was Agapito de Arcos, was born in Colombia, in the colonial city of Cartagena de Indias, once the major entryway for slaves into the Spanish colonies in South America. He grew up surrounded by the drumbeats of the cumbia music, slavery's violent legacies, and the history of resistance embodied in the many maroon communities that dotted the city's borders. In his poetry he evokes those images, especially, as Lawrence Prescott has noted, using the symbol of the drum as the unifying thread essential to the black experience in the Americas. Like other black poets in Spanish America, such as the Afro-Peruvian Nicomedes Santa Cruz (1925–1992) and the Cuban Nicolás Guillén (1902–1989 Artel does not single out race alone as the defining element that has shaped his life and his aesthetic vision For him as for the others class ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Marine Corps soldier in the Vietnam War and‐Medal of Honor winner, was born in Nacogdoches, Texas, the son of Frank and Mildred Austin, and‐was raised in Phoenix, Arizona. A graduate of Phoenix Union High School, Austin was inducted for service in the U.S. Marine Corps during the height of the Vietnam War on 22 April 1968. Upon joining the marines, he was sent to boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, and served as a member of the Third Recruit Training Battalion through July 1968. Austin subsequently received individual combat and infantryman training at Camp Pendleton, California, from August to September 1968 as part of the Second Infantry Training Regiment, following which, in October 1968, he was promoted to private first class. Later that month, on 15 October he was sent to the Republic of Vietnam for his first tour of ...

Article

Ralph M. Coury

Egyptian diplomat, is best known as a pioneer of Egyptian Arab nationalism and the first secretary-general of the Arab League. His father, Hassan Bey, served as a member of Egypt’s quasi-parliamentary bodies before 1914. His family owned considerable land in their hometown in Giza, as well as a townhouse in Helwan. Although scholars who emphasize the shallow basis of Egyptian Arab nationalism link Azzam’s early Arabism to a strong consciousness of Peninsular origin, the Azzams regarded themselves as fallahin dhawati (an elite of rural origin). As was true of many sons of the ruling class in their modernizing journey, Azzam resisted his father’s pressures to study at the religious university of al-Azhar. He attended state primary and secondary schools, St. Thomas’s School of Medicine in London, and then, briefly, as a result of the interruption of World War I, the Qasr al-Aini School of Medicine in Cairo.

As a ...

Article

Adam W. Green

United Statescongressman, was the third child born to Frank Winston Ballance, a sharecropper, and Alice Eason Ballance, a homemaker and care worker. Ballance was born and raised on a farm in Windsor, eastern North Carolina, part of the rural tobacco farming communities of the impoverished and segregated Bertie County. Ballance learned at an early age the import of fighting for civil rights; his mother was heavily involved in black voter registration drives when he was a child. After graduating W.S. Etheridge High School in 1959, he moved to attend North Carolina Central University in Durham.

In college, Ballance became involved in marches and sit-ins in the city, including ones aimed at larger department stores like Woolworth's. After receiving his B.A. in 1963, he remained at the university to study law. In 1965 he taught law at South Carolina State College but the following ...

Article

Juan Fandos-Rius

official and diplomat of the Central African Republic (CAR), was born on 6 June 1923 in the Poto-Poto neighborhood of Brazzaville in the Middle Congo. His mother was a Gbaya from the Bouar-Baoua region of Upper Sangha, then part of the Middle Congo but later attached to the colony of Ubangi-Shari. His father, Jean Bandio, a Gbaya, grew up in the Carnot region of Upper Sangha, but was sent by the French to serve as a nurse in the capital of French Equatorial Africa (FEA), Brazzaville. Jean-Arthur, the fifth of Jean Bandio's ten children, studied at the École Urbaine (Urban primary school) from 1933 to 1939, then from 1940 to 1944 at Brazzaville's École Edouard-Renard Edouard Renard School which trained Central Africans to serve as administrative assistants and primary teachers for FEA Bandio s classmates at Edouard Renard School included many future leaders of the independent states ...

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Mayda Grano de Oro

José Celso Barbosa played a key role in the politics of the Spanish-American War, denouncing the Creoles' political aspirations. At the same time, his involvement reflected the complexities and contradictions in race issues confronted by black Puerto Ricans at the time. Barbosa's achievements were not typical of blacks in Puerto Rico at the turn of the century. He represented the “self-made man” that came from humble origins. He had the opportunity to study at the only institution of secondary education on the island, thanks to the determination of his aunt. He completed his studies in the Jesuit seminary before going to the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, where he graduated in 1880. His experience in the United States made him an admirer of republican ideals for social equality and justice.

When Barbosa returned to Puerto Rico he started his medical practice and became a member ...

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was born in the Berbice-Courantyne region of British Guiana on 5 June 1867, the son of Bethune James, a farmer, and Elizabeth Dunn, both of African descent. A basic education at the Congregational School in Hope Town, Bath School, and Rodborough House School in Berbice enabled him to teach younger children, and fitted him for employment as a clerk in the colony’s postal service from around 1892. He studied telegraphy and started a law course by correspondence. At the age of 20 he was a postmaster in Georgetown. As district postmaster at Belfield, he organized self-help projects and was active in the Anglican Church. He married Caroline Louisa Ethelena Spooner (c. 1873–1917) on 1 August 1894; they had eight children, the third named in honor of Governor Walter Sendall, who encouraged black endeavors. From 1896 Barbour James s Victoria Belfield Agricultural Society involved planters peasant ...

Article

Born in Sanford, Florida, Claude Barnett was sent at a very young age to live with his grandparents and other relatives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. He returned to the South to study engineering at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), from which he graduated in 1906. Back in Chicago, he worked as a postal clerk and, exposed to a wide range of advertising journals, decided to make a career in advertising. In 1913 he produced a series of photographs of famous blacks, which he sold through the mail, furthering his interest in business.

Five years later Barnett and several other entrepreneurs formed the Kashmir Chemical Company which sold cosmetics Barnett left the post office took the job of advertising manager at Kashmir and toured the country selling cosmetics as well as his photographs In each town he visited the local black newspaper hoping to bargain for ...

Article

Robert L. Harris

entrepreneur, journalist, and government adviser, was born in Sanford, Florida, the son of William Barnett, a hotel worker, and Celena Anderson. His father worked part of the year in Chicago and the rest of the time in Florida. Barnett's parents separated when he was young, and he lived with his mother's family in Oak Park, Illinois, where he attended school. His maternal ancestors were free blacks who migrated from Wake County, North Carolina, to the black settlement of Lost Creek, near Terre Haute, Indiana, during the 1830s. They then moved to Mattoon, Illinois, where Barnett's maternal grandfather was a teacher and later a barbershop owner, and finally to Oak Park. While attending high school in Oak Park, Barnett worked as a houseboy for Richard W. Sears cofounder of Sears Roebuck and Company Sears offered him a job with the company after he graduated from high school but ...