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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

David M. Fahey

temperance reformer, federal customs official, and educator, was born William Middleton Artrell, of one quarter African and three quarters European ancestry, at Nassau in the Bahamas. There Artrell benefited from a basic education on the British model, acquired experience as a schoolteacher, and became a staunch Episcopalian.

During the American Civil War the Bahamas prospered as a result of services to blockade runners, who transported British cargo in the short but dangerous voyage between the Bahamas and the Confederate coast. When the war ended, however, economic depression forced many Bahamians to seek work in the United States. In 1870 Artrell migrated to Key West, at that time a major port in Florida. Unlike most African Americans in the South, he had never been a slave. In 1870 Key West opened the Douglass School for African American children Artrell became its first principal and as a result he was sometimes ...

Article

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

Anne K. Driscoll

pilot, Tuskegee Airman, civil servant, teacher, and juvenile probation officer, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the youngest child of Georgia Crane and Earl Bohannon, occupations unknown. Bohannon was the youngest of ten children, although only his oldest sister and a brother were alive when Bohannon was born. One of his greatest influences growing up was his mother, who taught him the importance of principles, hard work, and honesty.

Bohannon began working at eight years of age in a hardware store His next job was working on a laundry truck It was the laundry job that ultimately led Bohannon to his dream of becoming an aviator Bohannon stopped twice a week at Atlanta s Candler Field later William B Hartsfield Airport While picking up the aviators laundry he listened to the pilots discussing their flights the difficulties of flying in adverse weather conditions and other matters that inspired him to ...

Article

Kathryn L. Beard

attorney and co-founder of the Michigan Federated Democratic Club (MFDC), was born in British Guiana (Guyana), South America. Little is known about his life prior to his emigration from the colony. Because Craigen grew up near Spanish-speaking countries such as Venezuela, he became bilingual at an early age. During World War I he served in the United States Navy as a Spanish interpreter stationed in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. At the end of the war he migrated to Detroit where he worked in the automobile industry and became active in Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

The Detroit UNIA had more than 4 000 members in the 1920s making it one of the largest divisions of the organization As was true for other northern cities where the UNIA had a considerable presence African American migrants from the South comprised much of the rank and file of the organization while ...

Article

Bahru Zewde

, Ethiopian intellectual, civil servant, political activist, and coup leader, was born in Addis Ababa and educated first at the Teferi Mekonnen School and subsequently at the Haile Selassie I Secondary School (Kotebe), the first secondary school in Ethiopia. He was one of the young Ethiopians sponsored by Crown Prince Asfa Wossen, to pursue higher education in the United States. Thus he acquired his BA degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his MA from Columbia University, writing a thesis on “The Impact of White Settlement Policy in Kenya.” His sojourn in New York was to prove important not only in academic terms, but also in imbuing him with a spirit of Pan-Africanism and a lasting concern for social justice.

On his return to Ethiopia Germame joined the civil service as secretary to the Minister of Interior But fired up by the need for reform he started to organize like ...

Article

John Galaty

Maasai leader best known for his resistance to the second Maasai move and subsequent colonial impositions on the Maasai, was born about 1875 on the Leroghi plateau in Laikipia, Kenya. He was subsequently adopted into a Purko Maasai home. He is also known as Legalishu. He rose to prominence as the senior age-set spokesman of the Purko il-Tuati II age-set; age-sets are life-long groups of men who proceed through stages of the life cycle together and serve as warriors during an approximate twenty-year period. Il-Tuati were warriors from about 1896 to 1917; their mentors were members of the age-set il-Aimer (anglicized as “Laimer,” warriors, c. 1867–1886), famed for defeating the Laikipiak Maasai just prior to 1870. Ole Gilisho was among the leaders consulted by the British prior to the First Maasai Agreement of 1904; he was also influential during the forging of the Second Maasai Agreement of 1911 ...

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

David H. Anthony

North Carolinapolitical activist, journalist, civil servant, and publicist, was born into slavery in Raleigh, North Carolina, around 1851, the son of enslaved artisan Osborne Hunter and Mary Hunter, also enslaved. From about age four, Charles Hunter was trained to be a house servant in the home of their slave master, William D. Haywood. Somewhat later Hunter became a servant for Richard H. Battle. However, his intimate relationship with the Haywood family remained a feature of his life well after slavery.

When freedom came, Hunter and many fellow former North Carolina slaves faced profound changes. By 1867, young Hunter allied himself with prominent black Union League politicians George W. Brodie and James H. Harris and like them was gradually able to gain clout through affiliation with the Republican Party He worked as a temperance advocate in the late 1860s and ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Congolese (Brazza-ville) political and social activist, was born in Manzakala in the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville). His father Ngoma, a Lari-speaking man originally from the village of Mpangala, died before Matsoua was born. His mother Nkoussou, born in Manzakala, thus had to raise him herself. As a child and adolescent, he attended Catholic mission schools in the Mbamou region and at Brazzaville, the capital of French Equatorial Africa. Although he attended seminary, he ultimately abandoned plans for a religious vocation and moved to Brazzaville in 1919. There, the French government customs agency hired him as a clerk.

In 1922 he joined a French military unit and left Brazzaville for Paris. The matriculation badge 22 he received as a new recruit later became a common image employed by his followers. After receiving training in France, Matsoua participated in the Rif campaign in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco in 1925 ...

Article

Eric Young

A renowned civil servant, soldier, and labor organizer, André Matsoua’s career continued even after his death. As a youth he studied to become a priest but resigned in 1919 to join the colonial customs service. He later traveled to France and joined the army, serving in North Africa during World War I. In 1926 he settled in Paris, where he became involved in labor-union organizing and founded Amicale, a self-help organization. Seeking recruits and financial contributions, the movement spread to the French Moyen-Congo, where the colonial administration, upset by Matsoua’s outspoken opposition to the discriminatory indigenant, or indigenous, classification of many Congolese, arrested him in 1929.

Although Matsoua was by then a legal French citizen an African traditional court in Brazzaville sentenced him to three years in prison and a decade in exile in Chad Six years later he escaped was soon caught escaped again and found his way ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius

Central African educator, government minister, businesswoman, political prisoner, and reportedly the first African woman to run for president, was born Jeanne-Marie Ruth on 17 June 1937. She was the daughter of a French father and an African mother in Bangassou, a predominantly Nzakara region in the southeastern corner of the French colony of Ubangi-Shari (now the Central African Republic [CAR]). As a métis offspring of a French father, Jeanne Marie had privileged access to whatever French education was available in the region during the last two decades of colonial rule, which was particularly rare for Ubangian women at this time. In 1956, when she was only twenty-three years old, she became a monitor or supervisor for the educational system in the colony, which became an independent nation in 1960 This was certainly an exceptional position for a young woman to have at this time She remained active ...

Article

Richard S. Newman

leading citizen of color in nineteenth-century New York City, was born enslaved in 1766 in French colonial Saint Domingue Pierre was owned by Jean Berard a sugar planter who resided outside of Saint Marc in the western section of the prosperous French colony Pierre came of age in a colony dominated by bondage and death with masters importing as many as 30 000 enslaved people each year by the second half of the eighteenth century to replenish depleted plantations However Pierre was utilized predominantly as a household servant A talented and precocious lad he acquired literacy skills as well as a courtly sensibility which he maintained for the rest of his life in and out of slavery Though Berard family lore claims credit for encouraging Pierre s talents it may have been his enslaved grandmother Zenobie a wet nurse and household servant who had accompanied Bernard s eldest son ...

Article

Thomas J. Shelley

Toussaint, Pierre (1766–30 June 1853), businessman and philanthropist, was born a slave in the French colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti). Little is known of his early life except that, like his mother and maternal grandmother, he spent his youth as a house slave on a plantation in the Artibonite Valley in central Haiti near the port of Saint Marc. In the library of the plantation owner, Pierre Bérard, young Toussaint discovered the works of classical French preachers such as Bossuet and Massillon. Apparently it was from his reading of these sermons, rather than from any contact with the notoriously corrupt local clergy, that Toussaint developed his deep devotion to the Catholic faith.

In 1787 as political conditions on the island deteriorated Jean Jacques Bérard who had inherited his father s estate left Saint Domingue for New York accompanied by his wife Pierre Toussaint and four other slaves ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Born in Haiti, Pierre Toussaint was a slave until 1809. After his owners moved from Haiti to New York City in 1787 he was apprenticed to a New York hairdresser Toussaint eventually developed his own thriving career and supported his widowed mistress and her daughter with his ...

Article

Thomas J. Shelley

hairdresser, businessman, and philanthropist, was born a slave in the French colony of Saint Domingue (later Haiti). The names of his parents are unknown. Little is known of his early life except that, like his mother and maternal grandmother, he spent his youth as a house slave on a plantation in the Artibonite Valley near the port of Saint Marc. In the library of the plantation owner, Pierre Bérard, young Toussaint discovered the works of classical French preachers such as Bossuet and Massillon. Apparently it was from his reading of these sermons, rather than from any contact with the notoriously corrupt local clergy, that Toussaint developed his deep devotion to the Catholic faith. The main source for information on Toussaint's life is his autobiography, Memoir of Pierre Toussaint, Born a Slave in Saint Domingo, which was published anonymously by Hannah Lee Sawyer a contemporary ...

Article

David N. Gellman

Pierre Toussaint was a singular, yet elusive figure. The quality of his life moved some to call for his beatification as a Catholic saint in the twentieth century. His motivations and commitments as a historical figure—including his place in the history of free black life in antebellum New York City—are harder to pin down. Although he made monetary contributions to African American causes in New York and elsewhere, many of the most noteworthy beneficiaries of his assistance and sympathy were whites, with whom he forged unusually cordial connections during an era of increasing segregation and racial hostility.

Toussaint was born a slave in the French sugar colony of Saint Domingue; his year of birth has traditionally been listed as 1766, but a 1995 reassessment estimates 1778 as a more likely date, while another biographer proposes 1781 as Toussaint s birth year His mother and grandmother were house slaves ...