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was born 30 December 1936 in the village of Ewouta in the southern coastal Fernan-Vaz region of Gabon, to Anina Germaine, a member of the coastal Nkomi ethnic community. Agondjo-Okawé only met his biological father when he was fourteen years old. His mother, Anina, originally came from the nearby town of Kongo, but had difficulties with having children and turned to an herbalist in Ewouta for help. She later divorced Agondjo-Okawé’s biological father and married Charles Ping, a Chinese immigrant living in Fernan-Vaz. Their son, Agondjo-Okawé’s half-brother, Jean Ping went on to become a major figure in Gabonese politics.

In 1946 Agondjo Okawé s uncle Jean Remy Ayouné decided to have him study at the Roman Catholic mission school of Sainte Anne de Fernan Vaz It was around this time that the young boy witnessed an African colonial guard assault a woman in his village Disgusted Agondjo Okawé learned ...

Article

Robert Fikes

mayor and educator, was born in rural Livingston, Alabama, to Richard Arrington Sr. and Ernestine Bell, sharecroppers. In 1940, when his father found work in a steel mill, the family moved to Fairfield, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. At Fairfield Industrial High School, Arrington took an interest in the study of history and also learned dry cleaning, a practical skill that he later used to finance his college education. In 1952, during his sophomore year at Miles College in Birmingham, he married his high school sweetheart, the former Barbara Jean Watts. Two influential professors persuaded him to major in biology, and he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1955. He went on to earn his master's degree in Biology in 1957 at the University of Detroit and in 1966 completed his PhD dissertation Comparative Morphology of Some Dryopoid Beetles at the University of Oklahoma ...

Article

Katya Leney-Hall

Egyptian diplomat, jurist and scholar who, during 1992–1996, served as the sixth Secretary-General (SG) of the United Nations (UN), the first African and Arab to hold the position, was born in Cairo on 14 November 1922 into a distinguished Coptic Christian family. His grandfather, Boutros-Ghali Pasha, was the Egyptian minister for finance and, from 1894, foreign affairs. He was prime minister from 1908 to 1910 when he was assassinated by a nationalist angered with his advocacy of the extension of the Suez Canal Company s concession Boutros Boutros Ghali pointed out in an interview that the reality was that the population was happy to get rid of a Christian and his grandfather s assassination set off a wave of Coptic Muslim clashes Although not overtly religious himself his family s history status and influence on the Coptic Church were to form Boutros Ghali who would later perceive ...

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Robert Fay

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was born to a prominent Coptic Christian family in Egypt. His grandfather, Boutros Pasha Boutros-Ghali, served as prime minister of Egypt under the British protectorate from 1908 until his assassination in 1910. The younger Boutros-Ghali graduated from the University of Cairo in 1946 with a bachelor’s degree, and went on to earn a doctorate in international law in 1949 from the Sorbonne in Paris. Boutros-Ghali pursued postdoctoral work at Columbia University in New York City, and then assumed a post as professor of international law and international affairs at the University of Cairo. He worked as a journalist, writing for the daily Al Ahram. He also held teaching posts at Princeton University in the United States, and at universities in India, Poland, and Tanzania. In October 1977 Boutros-Ghali left his academic career to serve in the government of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat as ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Francis Cardozo was born free in Charleston, South Carolina, to prominent Jewish businessman and economist Isaac N. Cardozo and a free African American woman whose name is unknown. Cardozo was trained as a carpenter, but at age twenty-one he studied for the ministry at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and at seminaries in Edinburgh, Scotland, and London, England. He won awards for his mastery of Greek and Latin. Cardozo returned to the United States as minister of Temple Street Congregational Church in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1865, as a member of the American Missionary Association, he became principal of the Saxton School in Charleston. In 1866 he helped establish and became superintendent of the Avery Normal Institute, a school in Charleston to train African American teachers.

In 1868 Cardozo became involved in politics acting as a delegate to the South Carolina state constitutional convention As secretary ...

Article

Timothy P. McCarthy

minister, educator, and politician, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of a free black woman (name unknown) and a Jewish father. It is uncertain whether Cardozo's father was Jacob N. Cardozo, the prominent economist and editor of an anti-nullification newspaper in Charleston during the 1830s, or his lesser-known brother, Isaac Cardozo, a weigher in the city's customhouse. Born free at a time when slavery dominated southern life, Cardozo enjoyed a childhood of relative privilege among Charleston's antebellum free black community. Between the ages of five and twelve he attended a school for free blacks, then he spent five years as a carpenter's apprentice and four more as a journeyman. In 1858 Cardozo used his savings to travel to Scotland, where he studied at the University of Glasgow, graduating with distinction in 1861 As the Civil War erupted at home he remained in Europe to study ...

Article

Richard Alperin

teacher, coroner, scrivener, selectman, and justice of the peace, was born in New Market (now Newmarket), New Hampshire, the only child of Hopestill, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, housewright, and Catherine Cheswell. The name is sometimes spelled “Cheswill.” Wentworth's grandfather, Richard Cheswell, a black slave in Exeter, New Hampshire, purchased twenty acres of land from the Hilton Grant after he gained his freedom. The deed, dated 18 October 1716/17 (the discrepancy arises from the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar) is the earliest known deed in the state of New Hampshire showing land ownership by a black man. The land was located in what was to become the town of Newmarket. Richard's only child, Hopestill (1712–? became a housewright and worked mostly in Portsmouth He took part in building the John Paul Jones House as well as other important houses Hopestill was active in local affairs and ...

Article

Rachel B. Reinhard

educator and lawmaker, was born Robert George Clark in Ebenezer, Mississippi, the son of a schoolteacher. Little information about his parents or early life is known. He attended Jackson State College (later Jackson State University), which at that time was an unaccredited, publicly funded post-secondary school for blacks. After graduating from Jackson State College in 1953, Clark taught at Humphreys County Training School, Lexington Attendance Center, and other secondary schools in the Mississippi Delta. In addition to teaching he coached a number of boys’ and girls’ sports teams. Inspired by the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Clark decided to further his education. He enrolled in graduate school at Michigan State University, where in 1961 he earned his master s in administration and educational services Because there were no available programs for black students in Mississippi s segregated public universities a regional program Southern Regional Education Board paid ...

Article

Paul Stillwell

pioneer black naval officer, was born in Washington, North Carolina, the eighth of eleven children of Edward L. Cooper, a sheet metal worker, and Laura J. Cooper a homemaker One of the eleven siblings died in infancy the remaining ten became college graduates During his upbringing in North Carolina Cooper often faced the tribulations of southern racism He went to segregated schools and learned from his parents that he had to go out of his way to avoid conflict with whites Once when Cooper was eight or nine years old he got into a fight with a white boy As he put it It was the wrong day for him to call me a nigger and we had it out Stillwell 76 Cooper s father had to smooth things over with the boy s father to avoid the incident s escalation When he worked as a bellhop in ...

Article

Wayne Dawkins

mayor of New York City from 1990 to 1994. David Norman Dinkins was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of William Dinkins, a factory worker and barber, and Sally Dinkins. When his parents separated, six-year-old David moved to Harlem with his mother, but he returned to Trenton at age fourteen to live with his father. During World War II, Dinkins served in the Marine Corps. After the war he enrolled at Howard University, where he majored in math and graduated in 1950. Dinkins married Joyce Burrows in 1953. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1956.

Dinkins became active in a political club and was mentored by J. Raymond “Harlem Fox” Jones. Dinkins was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1965 and served one term. In 1972 he was elected the first black president of the city Board of ...

Article

M. Lois Lucas

educator and the first African American woman elected to the West Virginia State Legislature, was born in Motley, Virginia, the eldest of eleven children of Katherine Douglass, a housewife, and H. Grant Simpson a barber The Simpsons were among the first wave of blacks to move north during the Great Migration Hoping to take advantage of the growing coal mining industry the family settled in Elkhorn a small coal mining town in McDowell County in southern West Virginia They were a part of the expanding black middle class of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that adhered to a philosophy of personal advancement and racial uplift With an increase in the number of blacks working in the coal mines in West Virginia came an increase in black businesses and other professions Grant Simpson was the owner of a barbershop that catered to both blacks and whites ...

Article

Susan Love Brown

journalist, educator, politician, and statesman. Mervyn Malcolm Dymally, born in Cedros, Trinidad, achieved many “firsts” in American politics. His mother, Andreid Richardson, of Trinidadian descent, and his father, Hamid Dymally, of South Asian descent, educated him through high school, at Naparima College in San Fernando, Trinidad, after which he worked as a reporter for the Oilfields Workers Trade Union newspaper, The Vanguard, in Trinidad. This spurred his interest in a journalistic career, which took him to Lincoln University in Missouri at the age of nineteen. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences, where he majored in education, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1954. From then on he combined education, politics, and involvement in international issues as the interests that guided his career.

While working as a science special education teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District ...

Article

Andree Layton Roaf

Virginia state legislator, brick mason, plasterer, contractor, and educator, was born free in Manchester (later South Richmond), Chesterfield County, Virginia, the son of Edward Bradbury Edwards Jr. and Mary Trent Edwards. Edwards's family, of black, white, and American Indian ancestry, had been free landowners since the early 1700s. His father was a carpenter and his mother a teacher. Edwards was taught to read and write at an early age by his mother and learned the construction trades from his father. In 1850 Edwards married Sara Ann Coy, also a teacher, and together they had thirteen children.

Throughout his life Edwards was a prominent member of the historic First Baptist Church in South Richmond, which was established by free blacks as the African Baptist Church of Manchester in 1821 Edwards s family was among the founding members of the church which his father ...

Article

Frank R. Levstik

Thomas J. Ferguson was born on September 15, 1830, in Essex County, Virginia, the son of freeborn parents of mixed blood. Little is known of his early years, but it is recorded that by the 1850s he resided in Cincinnati, Ohio. There, Ferguson became an active member of the Masonic order, serving as junior warden of the Cincinnati lodge in 1859 and 1860. During 1859 he moved to Albany, in Athens County, Ohio, where he became a landowner and enrolled as a student at the integrated Albany Manual Labor University. Four years later, he was a leader in establishing the Albany Enterprise Academy in Ohio. Ferguson served on the first board of trustees of the school.

The Enterprise Academy opened its doors to students in 1864, following an appropriation from the Freedmen's Bureau and private gifts from individuals such as Union general Otis Oliver Howard ...

Article

Adah Ward Randolph

educator, politician, activist, pastor, author, and Masonic leader, was born in Essex County, Virginia, to free parents of mixed white and black ancestry. In 1831 Virginia outlawed the education of free blacks, and many of them migrated to other states, including Ohio. The Act of 1831 may account for the migration of Ferguson's family to Cincinnati, which Ferguson listed as his home when he attended Albany Manual Labor Academy (AMLA) in Albany, Ohio. While it is unclear how Ferguson attained an elementary education, the Albany Manual Labor University records list T. J. Ferguson of Cincinnati as a student in the collegiate department during the 1857–1859 academic year. James Monroe Trotter, veteran of the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment and musicologist, also attended AMLA. Incorporated as a university in 1853 Albany Manual Labor University AMLU offered an integrated education which accepted students regardless of color ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

was born in the elite Court End neighborhood north of Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Gustavus Myers, a future Richmond lawyer from a wealthy New England Jewish family, and Nelly Forrester, a free woman of color who lived in the household of Myers's relatives, Moses and Sally Hays Myers. While most published sources give Forrester's year of birth as 1822, his gravestone states it was 1823. Gustavus Myers was the son of Samuel Myers and Judith Hays Myers, both from Sephardic Jewish families originally settled in Newport, Rhode Island, and New York.

Although there may well have been some youthful mutual affection between his parents and while Myers s family provided for the resulting baby marriage was never a consideration or even a legal possibility The Myers family was prominent and assimilated into Richmond society census records from the 1840s to 1860s show that each ...

Article

Richard D. Starnes

Thomas Oscar Fuller was born in Franklinton, North Carolina, the son of J. Henderson Fuller and Mary Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Fuller's father was a former slave who had purchased his freedom and later his wife's with money earned as a skilled wheelwright and carpenter. While a slave, the elder Fuller taught himself to read, and after the Civil War he became active in Republican politics. During Reconstruction he served as a delegate to the 1868 state Republican convention and as a local magistrate.

Fuller completed his primary education in local schools and subsequently attended the Franklinton Normal School, an institution founded to educate black teachers. He graduated from Shaw University in 1890 and received a Master of Arts from the same institution in 1893. After graduation, Fuller simultaneously pursued careers in education and the ministry. Raised in a devoutly religious family, he was ordained as a Baptist ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

teacher, physician, public official, legislator, and lay religious leader, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Mary Ann Sampson, a slave, and an unnamed white father of Scottish descent. Green was raised in Wilmington by his mother, who later married Reverend Cornelius Sampson, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion clergyman. After Wilmington's fall to invading Union forces in early 1865, Green was allowed to begin his formal education at age twenty in the local Presbyterian parochial school.

For the next two years, while working as a carpenter by day, Green attended school at night. An excellent student, he supplemented his savings with loans to enter Lincoln University in May 1867 and continued to work before being granted a scholarship in his second year. He completed his bachelor's degree in 1872 taught for a year in Lincoln s normal and preparatory schools and ...

Article

Susan J. McWilliams

legislator and activist, was born Grace Towns in Atlanta, Georgia, the second of five children of George Alexander Towns, a professor of English and pedagogy at Atlanta University, and Nellie McNair, a graduate of the same institution. Both of her parents placed a high premium on education, civic involvement, and political activism. George Towns was a protégé and friend of W. E. B. Du Bois, publicly supporting his clashes with Booker T. Washington and independently striving to increase the ranks of African American voters. Nellie Towns, meanwhile, volunteered extensively in the community; she worked with the First Congregational Church and the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), and she helped found the Gate City Free Kindergarten Association, which assisted children of the black working poor. In this environment, the young Grace Towns grew up with senses of relative privilege and social obligation.

For a time Towns was ...

Article

Sheila Gregory Thomas

teacher, politician, and businessman, was born in Austin, Texas. His mother, Eliza, a slave of mixed race, was owned by John Hancock, a lawyer, judge, state legislator, and U.S. congressman whom Hugh knew to be his father. When he was five years of age and the Civil War was threatening, Hugh and his mother were sent by John Hancock to Oberlin, Ohio, a thriving community of whites and free blacks. This not only placed them in a safe environment but also guaranteed Hancock an education, as Oberlin College and its preparatory department welcomed all. For younger children there was the village elementary school.

Hancock was one of many offspring of white fathers and former slaves for whom Oberlin was a safe haven from the hostilities and limitations of life in the South Black residents of Oberlin in the 1800s included entrepreneurs teachers and elected officials ...