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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 ...

Article

Nadia Ali

was born on 13 March 1954 in Wakenaam, Guyana, the eldest of three children of teachers Michael and Dolly Amos. She had a sister, Colleen, and a brother, Michael. In 1963 the family became part of the significant post–World War II migration of Afro-Caribbean people from the British West Indies to Britain in the hope of a better life.

The family settled in Kent where as a minority Valerie experienced racial discrimination firsthand Undeterred she let it stimulate her keen sense of world politics equality and social justice and give birth to her mantra obstacles are for climbing over She and her sister were fortunate to attend the prestigious Townley Grammar School for girls in Bexleyheath Kent Colleen recalls that Valerie never boasted about her triumphs even when she received top marks in school and it was this intellect that saw Valerie become the first black exemplary class representative By ...

Article

Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

was born Louis-Marie Dantès Bellegarde in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 18 May 1877. His parents were Marie Boisson, a seamstress, and Jean-Louis Bellegarde, the director of the botanical gardens of the School of Medicine. He married Cecile Savain in 1902 and had seven children (Auguste, Argentine, Jeanne, Marie, Simone, Fernande, and Jean). Two of his five daughters, Marie and Fernande, were founding members of Haiti’s first women’s movement in the early 1930s. These daughters followed in the footsteps of Bellegarde’s aunt, Argentine Bellegarde, a well-known feminist educator and a major influence on the life of young Dantès.

Bellegarde took it as an omen that he was born on the day of the creation of the Haitian flag in 1803 He lived all his life in the neighborhood of Lalue then a middle class area near the National Palace His family on both sides had become poor though they had ...

Article

Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

Dantès Bellegarde was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1877. His family had long been at the center of Haitian politics. Bellegarde's mother was Marie Boisson and his father Jean-Louis Bellegarde. His maternal great-grandfather, Jacques Ignace Fresnel, was named judge by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution, who became the first leader of the independent state in 1804 and soon proclaimed himself Emperor Jean-Jacques I. This same great-grandfather was later minister of justice under President Jean-Pierre Boyer, who ruled all of Haiti from 1820 to 1843. Bellegarde's paternal grandfather, Jean-Louis de Bellegarde, was a duke and marshal in Haiti's second empire during the rule of Faustin Soulouque, who declared himself emperor and ruled from 1847 to 1859. Bellegarde's aunt, Argentine Bellegarde (1842–1901), was a noted educator and an early feminist. Bellegarde married Cécile Savain (1875–1965 ...

Article

An economist deeply involved in public policy and administration, Andrew Brimmer was appointed in 1966 as a governor of the Federal Reserve Board, where he served until 1974. He worked to alleviate unemployment, the national deficit, and racial discrimination. In 1969, when small businesses were suffering, Brimmer urged African Americans to forsake “black capitalist” ventures and pursue work in large mainstream companies instead. He proposed an income-tax reduction plan to President Gerald L. Ford in 1974; the following year, it became the basis of congressional legislation. In 1984, when black unemployment was double that of whites, Brimmer supported strategies that combined Affirmative Action with self-help.

Brimmer, the son of a sharecropper who struggled to make ends meet during the Great Depression, was born in Newellton, Louisiana After high school he joined the army where he became a staff sergeant Brimmer received a B A ...

Article

Darius V. Echeverría

economist and educator. Some individuals are important because they exemplify the historical past, while others are important because they embody generational change toward social progress. As the first African American governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board (1966–1974), Andrew Felton Brimmer is both the former and the latter.

The life story of this extraordinary leader began on 13 September 1926 in Newellton, Louisiana. The son of Andrew Brimmer Sr., a sharecropper, and Vellar Davis Brimmer, a warehouse worker, Brimmer picked cotton as a child in rural northeastern Louisiana while attending segregated public schools. Rather than allowing the hardships of poverty and racial injustice to discourage him, Brimmer used these experiences as a motivating force. Early on he was determined to earn a college degree so that he could serve in positions where he could help others.

Brimmer graduated from high school in 1944 and ...

Article

Cary D. Wintz

law enforcement officer, mayor, cabinet secretary, and professor. Lee Brown is best known as a high-profile law enforcement officer who held the position of chief of police or its equivalent in four major U.S. cities, served in President Bill Clinton's cabinet as drug czar, and was the first black mayor of Houston, Texas.

Lee Patrick Brown was born in Wewoka, Oklahoma, on 4 October 1937 to Andrew and Zelma Brown, who worked as farm laborers. When Brown was five the family moved to Fowler, California, about ten miles south of Fresno. As a child Brown often joined his parents in the fields, picking crops. But he also stayed in school, and he attended Fresno State University on a football scholarship, studying sociology and criminology.

In 1960 one semester before graduation Brown left college and took a job as a patrolman with the San Jose ...

Article

John Herschel Barnhill

reform police commissioner and politician, was born in Wewoka, Oklahoma, the son of sharecroppers Andrew Brown and Zelma Brown. By the 1940s the Browns were in California, picking grapes, watermelon, and cotton. Lee worked the fields, but he was a high school athlete. An athletic scholarship to Fresno State University and a 1960 Fresno State B.S. in criminology enabled him to pursue police work. He became a San Jose police officer in 1960 even before graduation. In 1964–1965 he was head of the San Jose police union.

He received his M.A. in sociology from San Jose State University in 1964 and became an assistant professor there in 1968, the same year he earned his master's degree in criminology from the University of California, Berkeley. Brown moved to Portland State University in 1968 as chair of the Department of Administration of Justice He received his Ph D from ...

Article

Thomas Clarkin

scholar and diplomat, was born Ralph Johnson Bunche in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Fred Bunch, a barber, and Olive Agnes Johnson. His grandmother added an “e” to the family's last name following a move to Los Angeles, California. Because his family moved frequently, Bunche attended a number of public schools before graduating first in his class from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles in 1922. He majored in Political Science at the University of California, Southern Branch (now University of California, Los Angeles [UCLA]), graduating summa cum laude and serving as class valedictorian in 1927. He continued his studies in political science at Harvard, receiving his MA in 1928, and then taught at Howard University in Washington, D.C., while working toward his PhD at Harvard. In 1930 he married Ruth Ethel Harris they had three children Bunche traveled to Europe and Africa researching ...

Article

Ben Keppel

Born in Detroit, the son of a barber, Bunche graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1927 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in government from Harvard in 1934. His dissertation, French Administration in Togoland and Dahomey, won an award as the best political science dissertation produced at Harvard that year. Bunche founded the political science department at Howard University, where he taught from 1928 to 1950. His book A World View of Race (1936) saw racial conflict as a product of class conflict. He was an influential adviser to the Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal on his classic 1944 study of U.S. race relations, An American Dilemma. Bunche married Ruth Ethel Harris, a Washington, D.C., schoolteacher, in 1930. They had three children.

During World War II Bunche served in the Office of Strategic Services ...

Article

Lawrie Balfour

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Ralph Johnson Bunche spent his early years with his parents in Detroit and in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He attributed his achievements to the influence of his maternal grandmother, Lucy Johnson, with whom he lived in Los Angeles, California, after he was orphaned at age thirteen. Johnson not only insisted that her grandson be self-reliant and proud of his race, but also that he, a high school valedictorian, go to college.

Bunche enrolled at the University of California at Los Angeles, and after graduating summa cum laude in 1927, he entered graduate school at Harvard University in Massachusetts. He was the first black American to earn a Ph.D. degree in political science from an American university. Bunche won the prize for the outstanding doctoral thesis in the social sciences in 1934 He conducted his postdoctoral research on African colonialism He did his research ...

Article

Joseph C. Heim

scholar, university professor, diplomat, UN administrator, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. In the 1950s and 1960s Bunche was the most visible African American on the world stage. But his accomplishments were far in the future when he was born in modest circumstances in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Fred Bunche, a barber, and Olive Bunche. His parents, however, were constantly in poor health, and after their early deaths Bunche was raised by his grandmother, Lucy Johnson, in Los Angeles.

His grandmother s diligence and inspiration guided and shaped Bunche s youth and he compiled a record of stellar achievement both in athletics he later was a guard on the basketball team of the University of California at Los Angeles UCLA and in academics This he did while holding numerous jobs from delivering newspapers to laying carpets on merchant ships His early years also ...

Article

Patricia Glinton-Meicholas

was born in 1797 in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (renamed Haiti following its revolution). He was the son of Mary Catherine Esther Argo (also “Hester Argeaux”), a free woman of African descent. His father was purportedly Etienne Dillet, a French army officer. Naturalized as a British subject of The Bahamas in 1828, Stephen Dillet became a member of one of the earliest organized civil rights pressure groups in The Bahamas, and he was the first Bahamian of color to win election to the colony’s Parliament.

Dillet was a man whose character and social and political pursuits were deeply influenced by events of international import, which supplied the context for his life. His birth in 1797 six years after the outbreak of the Haitian revolution was attended by bloody conflict The chief combatants were the free people of color and enslaved blacks who had rebelled to free themselves ...

Article

John E. Fleming and Rayford W. Logan

Born in Weston, Platte County, Missouri, George Washington Ellis was the son of George and Amanda Jane (Drace) Ellis. He studied in the Weston elementary schools and the high school in Atchison, Kansas. He received his bachelor of law degree from the University of Kansas in 1893 and was admitted to the Kansas bar. From 1893 to 1897 he practiced law in Kansas to defray the expenses of four years in the university's collegiate department, and received his bachelor of arts degree in 1897. In that same year, he moved to New York City, where he took a two-year course in the Gunton Institute of Economics and Sociology.

After passing the examination of the United States Census Board in 1899, Ellis received an appointment in the Census Division of the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. where he remained two years Here his spare ...

Article

Vernon J. Williams

lawyer and social scientist, was born in Weston Platt County, Missouri, the son of George Ellis, a farmer, and Amanda Jane Trace. George Ellis left home after completing elementary school, primarily because Weston Platt County could not provide him with the education or training he desired. He moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he found greater educational opportunities but increased racial hostilities. As a consequence, he soon moved to Atkinson, Kansas, where he completed high school in 1891. Ellis continued his education at the law school at the University of Kansas, receiving an LLB in 1893. While practicing law Ellis pursued a BA at Kansas; it is not known, however, if he completed the requirements for the degree. While at the University of Kansas he was active in Republican politics and debated in Kansas's McKinley Club.

Ellis moved to New York City in 1897 where ...

Article

Benjamin Letzler

law professor, dean, and diplomat, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to the Reverend Clarence Clyde Ferguson Sr. and Georgeva Ferguson. After a childhood in Baltimore he served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946, earning a Bronze Star, before attending Ohio State University on a football scholarship. He soon left the football squad to focus on his academic work, completing his AB cum laude in two and a half years. Ferguson earned his LLB cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1951, one of three black members of the class.

After a year as a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School and a year in private practice in New York, Ferguson served as assistant general counsel to the Moreland Act Commission to Investigate Harness Racing. Ferguson married the artist and sculptor Dolores Zimmerman in 1954 After her death in the late ...

Article

Andrew M. Fearnley

musicologist, opera singer, and diplomat, was born Zelma Watson in Hearne, Texas, the daughter of Samuel Watson, a Baptist minister, and Lena Thomas, a domestic worker. Zelma's parents attached a great deal of importance to education. As the former principal of a boarding school, Samuel Watson instilled into each of his six children an understanding of the value of education; until sixth grade their mother taught all the Watson children at home. The Watsons were also keen musicians, and family music-making sessions were a staple of Zelma's early life. As the eldest of the children, Zelma clearly took note of both of her parents' pet projects and made scholarship and song central to her own life.

Due to her father s job as a preacher Zelma s early life was rather peripatetic At age five she moved to Palestine Texas and then to Dallas Texas at ...

Article

Leland Conley Barrows

Beninese jurist, historian, international civil servant, human rights activist, and chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Benin, was born on 15 March 1934 in the town of Zinvié, not far from Abomey, the former royal capital of the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey. Because Glélé’s intellectual talents were recognized by his Roman Catholic primary school teachers, he was enabled to complete his secondary education at the Lycée van Vollenhoven in Dakar, Senegal, where he earned the lettres classiques baccalaureate in 1955. After a year of studying law at the newly founded University of Dakar, he entered the preparatory section of the prestigious Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris in order to qualify, in 1958, for the diploma of civil administration, awarded by the National School for the Training of Overseas Administrators (the former École Coloniale). He then went on to earn the licence in law in 1960 ...

Article

Adam W. Green

academic and writer, was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to Oliver John Golden, an African American agronomist, and Bertha Bialek, an English teacher of Polish-Jewish descent. Communist sympathizers who found life in America as an interracial couple extremely difficult, Oliver and Bertha led an expedition of sixteen African American agricultural experts to the Soviet Union in 1931 in an attempt to assist the USSR's agricultural development, specifically the cotton industry in Uzbekistan. Shortly after Golden's birth, her parents were offered work at universities in Tashkent, capital of the then-named Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1937 the family was given an ultimatum by the Soviet government to leave the country or renounce their American citizenship As Golden later wrote Neither my father nor my mother was inclined to take their newly born child back to the racism and intolerance that they had experienced in the United States p 15 ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

historian and religious leader, was born on 24 June 1846. His father, Henry, was a member of the Saro community, a large group of people who had been liberated from slave ships by the British Navy and then resettled in the British coastal colony of Sierra Leone. Like many other Saro individuals, Johnson’s father originally came from a Yoruba-speaking community in southwest Nigeria. Henry Johnson came from a royal pedigree, as he was the grandson of Alaafin Abiodun, king of the Oyo Empire in the late eighteenth century. Johnson married a Saro woman named Sarah, and their son Samuel was born in the Hastings village near Freetown. Samuel was the third of four children.

By the 1850s, many Saro chose to return to their home regions, and the Johnson family followed this trend by moving to back to Yorubaland in December 1857 There Henry Johnson became an assistant ...