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Charles Orson Cook

one of the most prolific white scholars of African American history in the twentieth century. Herbert Aptheker was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915 and was educated at Columbia University in the 1930s, where he took an undergraduate degree in geology and an MA and a PhD in history. His first important publication, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), was based on his doctoral dissertation and challenged the prevailing wisdom that slaves were largely passive victims of white masters. In part an outgrowth of Aptheker's master's thesis on Nat Turner, American Negro Slave Revolts immediately became a controversial work and has remained so since. He was befriended by the influential African American historian Carter G. Woodson and the legendary black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, both of whom encouraged his interest in Negro history. Aptheker's other writings include a seven-volume Documentary History of the Negro People ...

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Bettina Aptheker

A renowned public intellectual, Angela Y. Davis has been internationally recognized as a leader in movements for peace, social justice, national liberation, and women’s equality. A scholar and prolific writer, Davis has published five books and scores of essays, commentaries, and reviews. Since the 1970s she has persevered in struggles to free political prisoners and to dismantle what she was the first to call the prison-industrial complex.

Angela Yvonne Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She was the oldest of four children. Her mother, Sally E. Davis, was a public-school teacher, and her father, B. Frank Davis although qualified to teach managed a service station in order to enhance the family s income Davis s parents were deeply involved in their church and community and committed to the struggle for civil rights When Davis was four years old her family moved out of the all black projects ...

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Brittney L. Yancy

activist, philosopher, Marxist, and professor. Angela Davis was born 26 January 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama, in an area that was so frequently bombed by the Ku Klux Klan it was known as Dynamite Hill. Born to B. Frank Davis, a teacher and businessman, and Sally Davis, who was also a teacher, Angela Davis's political activism started in her early childhood, and by high school, she volunteered for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). At the age of fifteen, Davis received a scholarship to finish school at the Elizabeth Irwin School in New York City. Davis's teacher introduced her to socialist ideas that would inform her political participation in the civil rights and Black Power movements. When Davis finished high school in 1961, she moved to Massachusetts to attend Brandeis University, where she graduated in 1965 with degrees in philosophy and French ...

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Chike Jeffers

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Davis (1944), a public intellectual, activist, and iconic figure in the struggle for black liberation, attended high school in New York City and then went to Brandeis University. Here she encountered Herbert Marcuse, the celebrated critical theorist, with whom she began to study philosophy. Upon receiving her BA, she traveled to Germany to study in Frankfurt. Theodor Adorno was going to direct her dissertation research but, by 1967 Davis decided to return to the United States and work with Marcuse at the University of California San Diego The decision was made because of the intense political situation in the United States which Davis felt she could not watch from afar She got involved in an organization that became the Los Angeles chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee SNCC After it folded the Marxist inclination she had developed since high school led her ...

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Lawrie Balfour

Angela Yvonne Davis was, in several ways, born into the heart of the struggle for civil rights. Her family lived in the middle-class section of Birmingham, Alabama, that came to be known as Dynamite Hill because so many Ku Klux Klan bombings occurred there. Davis attended segregated schools, where children were taught black history but at the same time were denied adequate school supplies and facilities. Her mother and grandmother encouraged Davis to fight for civil rights while she was still in elementary school. As a high school student, Davis helped organize interracial study groups that were broken up by the police.

When she was fifteen, Davis left Birmingham to attend the Elizabeth Irwin School in New York City. Teachers at the politically progressive school introduced Davis to Socialism, from which she gained ideas that informed her later activism. From 1961 to 1965 Davis attended Brandeis University ...

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Stacy Braukman

radical activist, scholar, and prison abolitionist, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, to Frank and Sally Davis. Her father, a former teacher, owned a service station, and her mother was a schoolteacher. Both had ties to the NAACP and friends in numerous radical groups, including the Communist Party. When Angela was four years old, her family moved from a housing project to a white neighborhood across town. The experience of being the only African Americans surrounded by hostile whites taught Davis at a young age the ravages of racism. Indeed, during the mid- to late 1940s, as more black families began moving into the area, white residents responded with violence, and the neighborhood took on the unenviable nickname “Dynamite Hill.” Davis's racial consciousness was further sharpened by attending the city's vastly inferior segregated public schools.As a junior at Birmingham s Parker High School at the age ...

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Leila Kamali

Historian, editor, and political activist born on 10 December 1921 near Johannesburg, the child of Latvian Jews. Hirson was educated at Hebrew school in Johannesburg, and studied mathematics at the University of Witwatersrand, where he later worked as a physicist. In 1940 he joined the left‐wing Hashomer Hatzair, subsequently becoming a member of various Trotskyist groups. Between 1944 and 1946 he was a political organizer for the Workers' International League.

Hirson participated in setting up black trade unions, in extremely difficult conditions created by the Suppression of Communism Act. He became involved in the Non‐European Unity Movement, and in the late 1950s joined the Congress of Democrats, the white arm of the ANC‐led Congress Alliance.

After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 Hirson and his colleagues highly critical of the Congress Alliance s leadership and policies organized the National Committee for Liberation which advocated sabotage as a substitute for peaceful ...

Article

Richard Moore became a political activist when he immigrated to New York in 1901. He joined the Socialist Party in 1918 and also became a member of the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), a secret organization with ties both to Black Nationalism and the Communist Party U.S.A.

In 1921 Moore left the Socialist Party because of its indifference to African American concerns and soon after joined the Workers Party, the Harlem branch of the Communist Party. In 1925 he was elected to the executive board and council of directors of the American Negro Labor Congress (ANLC), a national organization of black radicals, and became a contributing editor to the ANLC's the Negro Champion. In 1931 Moore became vice president of the International Labor Defense (ILD), which was formed to resolve legal problems caused by labor disputes and racism. Moore and the ILD became well known for defending the Scottsboro ...

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Robin D. Kelley

Thompson brought to the Communist Party an unusually sophisticated understanding of the complexities of race and gender oppression—a unique perspective for an organization that emphasized class exploitation above all else. Born in Chicago, but raised in several predominantly white, often racist communities in the West, she eventually settled with her family in Oakland, California, in 1919. She earned a degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1923, but racism limited her career opportunities. She chose to go back to the Midwest and work toward a graduate degree at the University of Chicago, but she abandoned the idea soon thereafter. Giving up school, as well as a lucrative position at a black-owned Chicago firm, Thompson headed south to accept a teaching job in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in 1925 and a year later accepted a faculty position at Hampton Institute in Virginia Because of her ...

Article

Meghan Elisabeth Healy

South African activist and botanist, was born Edward Rudolph Roux in 1903 in the Transvaal town of Pietersburg (now known as Polokwane). His father, Phillip Roux, was a pharmacist, and his mother, Edith Wilson Roux, was a nurse who had come to South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. His father was an outspoken iconoclast: Despite his conservative Afrikaner upbringing, he was an atheist, socialist, and Anglophile who fought with the British in the Anglo-Boer War and dismissed Afrikaans as a peasant dialect. Eddie Roux was named after King Edward VII and his grandfather Eduard Roux.

In 1904, Roux moved with his parents to Johannesburg, where his father opened a pharmacy in the Bezuidenhout Valley and the family grew to include three more sons and two daughters. His father was active in the South African Labor Party and International Socialist League politics, and the 1913 miners strikes culminated in ...

Article

Michael James

educator, community and civil rights activist, was born Doxey Alphonse Wilkerson in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, the son of a Methodist minister and a civic-minded mother. As was the case with many Jim Crow–era black families looking for avenues to further their children's education, Wilkerson's father moved his family from Excelsior Springs thirty miles west to Kansas City, so his son could benefit from a larger public educational system. Ironically, the year of Wilkerson's birth, the Kansas legislature enacted statutes that created segregated schools in Kansas City. After graduating from Sumner High School, Wilkerson attended the University of Kansas where he received a bachelor's degree in English in 1926 and his master's in Education in 1927 That same year he was hired as an assistant professor of English and secondary education at Virginia State College in Petersburg Virginia He quickly became known as a quiet but forceful advocate for ...

Article

In 1944, Doxey Alphonso Wilkerson published an essay in the anthology What the Negro Wants, drawing parallels between the struggle for African American civil rights and the Allied struggle in World War II. In addition to teaching at Howard University, in Washington, D.C. and Yeshiva ...