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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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Félix Ojeda Reyes

was born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, on 8 April 1827 to Felipe Betances Ponce, of Dominican origin, and María del Carmen Alacán, of Puerto Rican origin, the well-off owners of a sugar plantation called Hacienda Carmen. On 21 April he was baptized and registered by church officials in the Book of Mulattoes. Shortly after his mother’s death on 10 February 1837, Betances’s father sent him to Grisolles, near Toulouse, in the southwest of France. Under the care of the Prévost-Cavallieri family, Betances, always an excellent student, studied at the Collége Royal in Toulouse. In 1848 the year of the revolutions that toppled absolutist supremacy in Europe he entered the College of Medicine at the University of Paris At that historic moment Betances commenced a lifetime of political engagement and activity by participating in the antimonarchist revolution of 24 February which established the Second French Republic Although his ...

Article

Donna Christian-Christensen, who was formerly known while in office as Donna Christian-Green, comes from a family of public servants. Her father, Almeric L. Christian, was a Virgin Islands chief district court judge, and her paternal grandmother, Elena L. Christian, was an educator in the Virgin Islands. Christian-Christensen graduated with a bachelor's degree from St. Mary's College in Indiana and earned a medical degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. After a medical career of more than twenty years, she entered politics as vice chairperson of the U.S. Virgin Islands Democratic Territorial Committee in 1980. She subsequently served on the U.S. Virgin Islands Board of Education and the U.S. Virgin Islands Status Commission. In 1996 Christian-Christensen became the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the U.S. Virgin Islands. She was reelected in subsequent elections.

Article

Dorsia Smith Silva

physician, politician, and delegate to the U.S. Congress, was born Donna Marie Christian in Teaneck, New Jersey, to Virginia Sterling Christian and retired Chief District Court Judge Almeric L. Christian, from St. Croix. Christian-Christensen's parents wanted their daughter to understand her cultural connections to the Virgin Islands, so she spent part of her adolescence in St. Croix. This time in St. Croix had a profound influence on Christian-Christensen's career and commitment to helping others.

Christian-Christensen returned to the United States to graduate from St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where she earned a B.S. degree in 1966. After reading a United Negro College Fund booklet about the lack of minorities in health care, she decided to enter the medical field. She attended George Washington University Medical School and earned an M.D. degree in 1970. From 1970 to 1971 Christian Christensen worked an as ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

physician and diplomat, was born near Bennettsville, South Carolina, to parents whose names are not recorded, and who may have been slaves or freed slaves. At an early age, he moved with his parents to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he was educated in that city's public schools.

A gifted student, Crossland later graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, before completing his medical studies at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He practiced medicine and surgery for twelve years in both Missouri and Kingstree, South Carolina, where he also served for a brief period as assistant postmaster. He also served as city physician for several years in St. Joseph.

Crossland also became active in Republican Party politics in Missouri, and by 1901 had become a member at large of that state s Republican central committee He was also elected president of the Negro Republican State League As ...

Article

Rayford W. Logan

William Demos Crum was born near Orangeburg, South Carolina, the youngest of seven children. His grandfather, a German, had settled in South Carolina early in the nineteenth century. His father, Darius, owned a sizable plantation; little is known about his African ancestry. In 1875 he graduated from the Avery Normal Institute, a school sponsored by the American Missionary Association in Charleston. Crum studied briefly at the University of South Carolina, which was integrated at the time, and received his M.D. degree from Howard University in 1880. In 1883 he married Ellen Craft, the daughter of Ellen and WilliamCraft, who had escaped from slavery to Boston in 1848. Dr. Crum practiced medicine in Charleston, headed the local hospital for blacks, and served as a trustee of the Avery Normal Institute.

In addition to engaging in various business enterprises Crum was active in Republican politics He ...

Article

Floyd Jr. Ogburn

physician and politician, was born near Orangeburg, South Carolina. Born free and the youngest of seven children in a family with German African ancestry, he matured on an Orangeburg plantation, which his father, Darius, had inherited from his German father, who had settled in South Carolina in the early nineteenth century. The Crums owned and used forty-three slaves to farm their plantation, yet the close of the Civil War marked the death of Darius and their fortune.

The dissolution of the family fortune drove Crum's older brothers north in search of employment, but they helped him get an education. He graduated in 1875 from Avery Normal Institute in Charleston, South Carolina, and briefly attended the University of South Carolina shortly thereafter. In 1881 he obtained an MD degree from Howard University, establishing a medical practice in Charleston two years later. After setting up his medical practice Crum married Ellen ...

Article

Joseph Wilson

Michigan politician. Born in Detroit, Charles Coles Diggs Jr. attended the University of Michigan and Fisk University and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Following in his father's footsteps, Diggs worked as a funeral director in his family's business in Detroit, then was elected to his father's seat in the Michigan state senate in 1950. After sponsoring the state's Fair Employment Practices Commission, Diggs was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1954 as the first African American congressman from Michigan.

In the first year of his congressional career Diggs asserted leadership and became involved in the civil rights movement he spoke before ten thousand people attending a Mississippi conference organized by the largest civil rights group in the state the Regional Council of Negro Leadership Returning to Mississippi later that year he attended the notorious trial of the accused murderers of Emmett Till the ...

Article

Daryl A. Carter

United StatesCongressman, was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Charles Diggs Sr., a mortician, and Mamie Ethel Jones Diggs, a homemaker. As the product of a middle-class family, he learned politics at the knee of his father. Charles Sr. owned a mortuary, an insurance company, and an ambulance company. More importantly, Charles Sr. was very active politically, eventually serving in the Michigan State Senate. Detroit was also a major destination for African Americans escaping the South during the Great Migration, and thousands relocated to Detroit in the search for jobs and security. The combination of his father and the tectonic shifts taking place in Detroit seemed to have prompted the younger Diggs to excel academically. He graduated from Miller High School in 1940 and briefly attended the University of Michigan He transferred however to Fisk University after a couple of years While he was at Fisk ...

Article

Richard Watts

Born into a lower-middle class Haitian family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, François Duvalier attended local primary schools and, later, the Lycée Pétion, where he was taught by his political mentor, Dumarsais Estimé. Duvalier subsequently attended medical school at the national university, earning a degree in 1934. He then turned to civil service, working for the Haitian government for the next ten years. During this time Duvalier became part of a collective known as the Griots, a group of intellectuals, inspired by the Négritude movement, who sought to glorify Haiti's African heritage.

In Le problème des classes à travers l'histoire d'Haïti (1946), Duvalier and Lorimer Denis rejected a Marxist analysis of class and claimed that the historical supremacy of the mulatto (of African and European descent) elite in Haiti was an ethnic rather than an economic phenomenon Many historians deem this work a vulgarization of the ...

Article

Alexander J. Chenault

the first black popularly elected governor of the United States Virgin Islands, Delegate to the United States House of Representatives, and ambassador, was born in Christiansted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, to Charles and Maude (Rogiers) Evans. He attended the Christiansted Public Grammar and Junior High schools and completed his secondary education at the Charlotte Amalie High School in St. Thomas, where he graduated as valedictorian of his class.

At the age of nineteen, Evans moved to Washington, D.C., and studied at Howard University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1940. In 1944 he received his medical degree with honors from the Howard University Medical School. Evans married Mary Phyllis Anderson, a nurse he met while completing his medical internship at Harlem Hospital in New York City in 1945, and they had four sons together: Melvin Herbert Jr., Robert Rogiers, William Charles and ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

physician and diplomat, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the older son of William Henry and Mary Elizabeth (Williams) Furniss. As a child he lived in Jackson, Mississippi, where his father served as assistant secretary of state under Secretary of State James R. Lynch, and later on the staff of the new Alcorn University. His sons were educated in the public schools of Indianapolis, Indiana, where William Furniss became superintendent of special delivery for the U.S. Post Office Department after 1877.

Henry Furniss began his professional studies at the medical department of the University of Indianapolis in 1887, transferring in 1890 to Howard University in Washington, DC, where he worked as a clerk for the U.S. Bureau of the Census to finance his studies. In 1891 he graduated from the Howard medical department, and later received a doctoral degree in pharmacy from Howard (1895 ...

Article

Michaeljulius Idani

nurse and U.S. Congresswoman, was born in Waco, Texas, the daughter of Edward Johnson, a Navy veteran and civil servant for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Lillie Mae White Johnson, a homemaker and church organizer. Johnson was one of four children—sisters Ruth and Lee and brother Carl. The Johnsons were a tight-knit Christian family with a large extended family rooted in the Waco community. Johnson's parents instilled in their children a deep appreciation for education. Johnson's mother was an honor's graduate of AJ Moore High School in Waco, where Johnson would later attend and graduate in 1952.

By the early 1950s many segregationist laws had been enacted against African Americans and Hispanics Texas maintained separatist policies related to education and public and residential areas and few opportunities existed for Johnson to pursue higher education locally After graduation from high school she attended St ...

Article

Johnson was born in Waco, Texas. She received a bachelor's degree in 1955 from Saint Mary's at Notre Dame and a nursing degree in 1967 from Texas Christian University. She worked as a nurse until being elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1972. She earned a master's degree in public administration in 1976 from Southern Methodist University. Johnson left the statehouse in 1977 when President Jimmy Carter appointed her regional director of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). She worked at HEW until 1981, then started her own business-consulting firm in Dallas.

In 1986 Johnson was elected to the Texas Senate. As chair of the Texas Senate subcommittee responsible for drawing congressional districts for 1992, she created the new Thirtieth Congressional District, which subsequently elected her to Congress in 1992. In 1994 federal judges ruled the district unconstitutional because it ...

Article

Mona E. Jackson

Named by Ebony magazine in 2001 as one of the ten most powerful black women in America, Eddie Bernice Johnson became the first African American woman to represent the Dallas, Texas, area in the U.S. Congress in 1992. With a passion for justice and the courage to speak her mind, Johnson has been a leader in championing legislation designed to empower low-income communities. As a member of the House of Representatives, Johnson has taken pride in transcending the actions of the average politician: “The average politician, in my judgment, just wants to get along. Getting along is important, but it’s not a number one thing for me. I believe in saying what I mean and meaning what I say.”

Eddie Bernice Johnson was born in Waco, Texas, to Edward Johnson and Lillie Mae White Johnson After finishing high school she attended St Mary s at Notre Dame ...

Article

Peter Brush

Democratic congresswoman. Johnson was born in Waco, Texas, where she graduated from high school in 1952. She earned a nursing certificate from the University of Notre Dame in 1955. She began her nursing career the following year at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas, eventually becoming chief psychiatric nurse. Johnson married Dawrence Kirk and in 1958 had a son, Dawrence Jr. The marriage ended in divorce. In 1967 Johnson earned a BS from Texas Christian University and in 1976 a master's degree in public administration from Southern Methodist University.

During her sixteen years of nursing Johnson stayed active in community affairs. In 1972 she achieved a landside victory in her run for the Texas House of Representatives District Thirty three This was a historic achievement Johnson became the first black woman to win political office in Dallas In the house she was an advocate for health ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

physician and diplomat, was born in Monticello, Florida, the son of James and Emily Livingston. After the Civil War, his family moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where Livingston and his older sisters, Julia and Minerva, attended public schools. He became a schoolteacher in Jacksonville while attending that city's Cookman Institute, later merged into Bethune-Cookman University in Orlando. After his graduation from Cookman in 1882, he was recommended by Florida Republican leaders for appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Livingston's quest was detailed by many U.S. newspapers that year, including a memorable sketch in the New York Sun (3 Sept. 1882) describing the youth as “conceded to have a bright, intelligent face and a fine physique. If he should prove qualified in his studies, his fellow cadets must not destroy him.” Livingston's unexpected nomination surprised the Sun which recalled the recent expulsion ...

Article

Kenneth J. Blume

physician and diplomat, was born in Brooklyn, New York, to parents whose names and occupations are unknown. In 1865 he moved with his parents to Providence, Rhode Island, and over the next eighteen years was educated at schools in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. In 1883 he graduated from Yale Medical School with high honors and shortly thereafter married the well-educated daughter of a Yale University carpenter.

Thompson then spent eighteen months in Paris (1883–1884), further learning the latest medical techniques. He returned to the United States late in 1884 and established his residence and medical practice in New York City Quickly becoming socially and professionally prominent he was cited by contemporaries as an example of the possibilities of self improvement open to African Americans who were afforded educational opportunities He also gained a reputation within New York social circles for his proficiency in French and ...

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SaFiya D. Hoskins

member of the U.S. Congress, was born Diane Edith Watson in Los Angeles, California, the oldest of three children. Her parents divorced when she was seven years old, at which time her mother began working nights at a post office; her father was a Los Angeles police officer. She attended Birdie Lee Bright Elementary School (formerly 36th Street School), Foshay Junior High School, and Dorsey High School. Upon graduating, Watson studied at Los Angeles City College before transferring to the University of California at Los Angeles, where in 1956 she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education. In 1967 she acquired a Master of Arts degree in School Psychology from California State University. Attending the Claremont Graduate School, in 1986 Watson earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Leadership. Subsequently, Watson attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Watson had begun working with ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

physician and diplomat, was born in Cumberland County, North Carolina, one of seven children of free black parents Peter Williams, a successful lumberman, and Flora Ann McKay, who taught her son to read at an early age. After the family moved to nearby Harnett County in 1867, his father engaged an educated white widow to tutor his children, in exchange for working on her farm. According to one account, within two years John Williams had “mastered Webster's blue back speller and other books”; by age sixteen, the avid reader was well versed in memoirs, history, and biographies (Powell, p. 210).

As a teenager, John entered the state normal training school at Fayetteville (now Fayetteville State University), where he graduated at the top of his class in 1880 Williams then became a schoolteacher holding teaching positions near his home in Lillington and in a number of ...