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Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

first African American member of the Oklahoma City Council, family physician, and civic leader, was born in Trinidad, West Indies, to Gertrude St. John, a domestic worker, and John Atkins. He had one younger sister. Charles Atkins immigrated to the United States, arriving at Ellis Island in March 1929. He was required to attend Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, New York City, because the United States did not accept his education credentials from Trinidad. One of the first black students at DeWitt, he graduated in 1933. Aided by the Urban League, he worked as a summer counselor to earn money for college. Although he took some classes at City College of New York, he moved to North Carolina to attend St. Augustine's, an Episcopalian historically black college in Raleigh. He graduated in 1941 with a bachelor's degree in Chemistry. On 27 March 1943Atkins ...

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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 ...

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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 ...