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Cajetan N. Iheka

Nigerian entrepreneur, philanthropist, politician, and publisher, was born on 24 August 1937 in the southwestern town of Egba, Abeokuta, in the present-day Ogun State, to Alhaji Salawu Adelekan Akanni Abiola and Zeliat Wuraola Ayinke Abiola (née Kassim). Although Abiola was the twenty-third child of his parents, he was their first surviving child as his older siblings had died at infancy or were stillborn. Because of several deaths that had plagued the family, Abiola was named “Kashimawo,” meaning “Let us wait and see.” It was not until his fifteenth birthday that his parents gave him a regular name, Moshood, having been convinced that the young Abiola had come to stay.

Although he was born and raised in a poor family the young Abiola exhibited some entrepreneurial tendencies when he started gathering and selling firewood at the tender age of nine With the proceeds from his business he was able to support ...

Article

On June 12 1993, the popular businessman Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola won a long-awaited presidential election in Nigeria, only to have the country's military leader, Ibrahim Babangida, annul the election results. When Abiola declared himself the country's legitimate leader a year later, Babangida's successor, General Sani Abacha, jailed him for treason. As a political prisoner, Abiola became the rallying symbol for Nigerians’ democratic aspirations.

Abiola was born into a poor, polygamous household of Yoruba-speaking Muslims in the ancient town of Abeokuta None of his parents first twenty two children had survived past infancy so Abiola the twenty third was given the middle name Kashimawo meaning Let s see if he will survive He began his education at the Islamic Nawar Ud Deen School and then transferred to the Christian run African Central School As an indigent student at the Baptist Boys High School Abiola ...

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Sean Patrick Adams

James Gillespie Birney was born in Danville, Kentucky, to a slaveholding family. He attended Transylvania University in nearby Lexington, Kentucky, and eventually graduated from Princeton University in 1810. After admittance to the bar, Birney returned to Danville to practice law and soon married into an influential Kentucky family. By the time he moved to Madison County, Alabama, in 1818, he already owned several slaves.

Following a brief stint in Alabama's General Assembly and some financial difficulties, Birney relocated to Huntsville, Alabama, to begin a law practice. After selling many of his slaves, he became involved with the colonization movement and supported the idea of restricting the internal slave trade. By 1832 Birney was an active agent for the American Colonization Society and made a lecture circuit around the South supporting the idea of emancipating slaves and transporting them to the new African colony of Liberia He ...

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Thomas Adams Upchurch

One of the most polarizing political figures in American history, James Gillespie Blaine, “the Plumed Knight of Maine,” was the most prominent presidential candidate of the late nineteenth century never to be elected. His chameleon-like character kept him at the top of the Republican Party machinery during both Reconstruction and the Gilded Age. He supported the Union during the Civil War and the Radical cause in the late 1860s, took a conciliatory view of the southern question in the early 1870s, and ultimately all but abandoned the African American civil rights agenda in the late 1870s and thereafter. As much as any other Republican, he influenced the course of the party in selling out African Americans after Reconstruction for the joint benefits of sectional reconciliation and national business interests. He did so, however, without necessarily alienating black voters or friends. Frederick Douglass for instance supported him throughout his career ...

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Curt Johnson

professional soccer player, later became the charismatic leader of the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA; Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) forces in eastern Angola during the Angolan Revolution. He subsequently broke with the leadership of the MPLA and led a faction opposed to MPLA President Dr. Agostinho Neto. In the Angolan Civil War, his faction was allied with Holden Roberto’s Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (FNLA; Front for the National Liberation of Angola) and Jonas Savimbi’s União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA; National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) against Neto’s MPLA.

Daniel Júlio Chipenda, an Ovimbundu, was the son of Jesse Chipenda, a prominent Protestant clergyman and activist who died in a Portuguese prison camp in 1969 The younger Chipenda associated with Angolan dissidents in Luanda He later was a popular student athlete at Coimbra University in Portugal 1958 ...

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Roanne Edwards

Known for her integrity and her powerful oratory skills, Shirley Chisholm is widely considered one of the foremost female speakers in the United States. With a character that she has described as “unbought and unbossed,” Chisholm became known as a politician who refused to allow fellow politicians, including the male-dominated Congressional Black Caucus, to deter her from her goals. In 1969 her first statement as a congressperson before the United States House of Representatives reflected her commitment to prioritizing the needs of the disadvantaged especially children She proclaimed her intent to vote No on every money bill that comes to the floor of this House that provides any funds for the Department of Defense While Chisholm advocated for civil rights for African Americans she regularly took up issues that concerned other people of color such as Native Americans and Spanish speaking migrants She also delivered important speeches on ...

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Daniel A. Dalrymple

Chisholm made a career out of breaking down barriers. She was both the first black woman to be elected to United States Congress and the first woman or African American to mount a serious run at a major party’s nomination for president. Chisholm forged a strong reputation for doing things her own way, spurning both the New York Democratic political machine and political decorum. Despite the obstacles that came with bucking the system, Chisholm always held her ground on important issues such as abortion, women’s rights, and civil rights.

Chisholm was born the eldest of three sisters to West Indian parents, Charles St. Hill and Ruby Seale in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn New York Shirley s father worked as a baker s helper and later a factory hand and her mother found employment as a seamstress However Hill and Seale quickly realized that their wages were insufficient ...

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Julie Gallagher

politician, women's rights advocate, and educator. Chisholm was born Shirley Anita St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York, to Charles St. Hill and Ruby Seale, immigrants from the Caribbean island of Barbados. During the Depression, Chisholm and her two younger sisters were sent to live with their grandmother in Barbados. They stayed there for seven years. Chisholm claimed that her sense of pride in herself and her race came largely from her father, an ardent follower of Marcus Garvey.

Chisholm attended Brooklyn College from 1942 to 1946, where she developed her oratorical skills in the Debate Society. At the same time, her membership in the Harriet Tubman Society and the Political Science Society stimulated her racial and political consciousness. Her leadership skills attracted attention, and one of her professors suggested that she consider entering politics.

Chisholm's career in early childhood education spanned nearly two decades. Between 1946 ...

Article

Patricia E. Canson

U.S. congresswoman, was born Shirley St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest daughter of Charles St. Hill, a laborer born in British Guiana (now Guyana), and Ruby Seale, a seamstress born in Barbados. Shirley's first three years were spent in Brownsville, a predominantly Jewish area of Brooklyn. Finding the wages for unskilled factory work insufficient to care for three children properly, the St. Hills sent their three daughters to Barbados, where they lived with their maternal grandparents on the family farm. Shirley credits her grandmother Emily Seale with instilling in her a strong character and determination.

The girls returned to Brownsville in 1934 after their mother gave birth to another daughter Despite the social and financial hardships of the Depression Ruby encouraged her children to respect the values of civility thrift poise humility education and spirituality though the sisters endured a substantial amount of teasing in the ...

Article

Sam Hitchmough

Stephen Arnold Douglas was born in Brandon, Vermont, the son of Stephen Arnold Douglass, a college-educated physician, and Sarah Fisk. (Douglas dropped the final “s” in his name in 1846.) In 1830 Douglas moved with his family to New York, where he began to study law, but three years later he headed west, where the training and qualifications for the legal profession were less formal. He eventually settled in Illinois, the state with which he is most associated, and was admitted to the bar a year later. He held a series of state positions, culminating in his serving as secretary of state and on the Illinois Supreme Court at the age of twenty-seven.

In 1843 the young Democrat was elected to the House of Representatives, where his first speech was a vigorous defense of Andrew Jackson He quickly fashioned his political philosophy which called for robust expansion ...

Article

Nigerian human rights advocate and legal scholar, was born on 22 April 1938 in Ondo, a city in southwestern Nigeria. His father, Saheed Tugbobo Fawehinmi, was a wealthy businessman who promoted political reforms in the colonial administration, such as lower taxes for poor people. Fawehinmi shared his father’s Muslim faith, which was highly unusual in Ondo. Lisa Alujanu Fawehinmi, one of his grandfathers, had fought the British occupation of Ondo in the late nineteenth century. Fawehinmi’s predisposition for rebellion thus made him part of family tradition. Gani, as he was known, impressed his teachers at various primary and secondary schools. He attended Ansar-Ud-Deen primary school from 1947 to 1953 and the Victory College secondary school in Ikare under the noted teacher Reverend Akinrele His headmaster at Victory College wrote a letter to Fawehinmi s father telling him that his son would make an outstanding attorney Fawehinmi became known as ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Beninese feminist activist and politician, was born on 29 November 1954 in the town of Mankono in the Ivory Coast. She attended primary and secondary school in Benin, and then moved to Paris, where she received an advanced degree in business law from the Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. She became a lawyer in France in 1985. After she received her degree, Gbedo became an activist for women’s rights in Benin, while it was under the dictatorship of Mathieu Kérékou in the late 1980s. Among her goals were to incorporate more protections for women’s individual rights into the Beninese legal code. Her life as a young woman was quite eventful. In her 2009 autobiography Gbedo stated that she had been one of the many lovers of the Togolese dictator Étienne Gnassingbé Eyadéma and that she chose to keep her independence rather than marry one man Gbedo eventually became ...

Article

Martha I. Pallante

Horace Greeley's formidable editorial, journalistic, and oratorical skills in espousing abolition, temperance, and other reform causes influenced audiences at the national level. According to his biographer Don C. Seitz, “No rival American journalist ever created an influence that penetrated so deeply.”

Greeley was born on 3 February 1811 and during his sixty-one years pursued a life that remains something of a study in contradictions. The son of the failed New England farmers Zaccheus and Mary Woodburn Greeley, he rose from his poverty-stricken roots to the top of the journalistic profession in a manner that marks him as an archetype for Horatio Alger's rags-to-riches characters. Like the title character of Alger's Paul Prescott's Charge, Greeley “battled bravely with the difficulties and the discouragements that beset him in early life” to attain the pinnacle of his profession.

In contrast to his professional success disappointment marked Greeley s personal life As ...

Article

Eric Bennett

Wangari Maathai grew up in a farming family in Nyeri, in what was then colonial Kenya's “white highlands.” Her parents sent her to Loreto Limuru Girls School, and her teachers there helped her get a scholarship to Mount Scholastica College in Kansas. After graduating with a B.S. degree in biology in 1964, Maathai attended the University of Pittsburgh. She returned to Kenya in 1966 for graduate study at the University of Nairobi and in 1971 became one of the first women in sub-Saharan Africa to earn a doctorate (in veterinary medicine). After receiving her Ph.D. degree, Maathai went to work as a professor at the University of Nairobi, eventually becoming the head of the faculty of veterinary medicine there.

Maathai is most famous, however, for her environmental activism. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 which aimed to prevent or reverse deforestation and also to improve ...

Article

Betty K. Koed

lawyer, activist, politician, and diplomat, was born Carol Elizabeth Moseley in Chicago, Illinois, the oldest of four children of Joseph J. Moseley, a police officer, and Edna A. Davie, a medical technician. She became involved in political activism at an early age; her first protest was a sit-in at a segregated restaurant while still at Parker High School in Chicago. At age sixteen, she marched with Martin Luther King Jr. to protest housing conditions in Chicago. Throughout her life, she sought to break down racial and gender barriers.

Moseley Braun earned a BA in Political Science from the University of Illinois in 1969. She graduated from the University of Chicago School of Law in 1972 and passed the Illinois State Bar in 1973. That same year, she married attorney Michael Braun, and the couple had one son, Matthew They divorced ...

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LaVerne Gray

U.S. senator, lawyer, and ambassador. Carol Moseley Braun gained national significance in 1992 when she was elected to the U.S. Senate: she was the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate, the first African American elected to the Senate as a Democrat, and the first woman elected to the Senate from the state of Illinois. Her life and career signify a dedication to service and making strides as an African American woman on the male-dominated local, state, and national political scenes.

Carol Moseley was born on the South Side of Chicago, the first of four children of Joseph J. Moseley, a Chicago police officer, and Edna W. Davie Moseley, a medical technician. During the early years of Moseley's life, her family lived a middle-class existence. This changed when her parents divorced in 1963 Moseley attended Chicago public schools and graduated from Parker ...

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Eric D. Duke

Moseley Braun made history in 1992 when she became the first African American woman—and first African American Democrat—elected to the U.S. Senate. With her election to the nation’s top legislative body, she instantaneously became a symbol of both racial and gender diversity. However, Moseley Braun’s career as a U.S. Senator was only one highlight in her successful career as both a lawyer and public official. With a résumé composed of service at the local, state, and federal levels, Moseley Braun proved to be more than simply a “symbol.” She established herself as one of the premier public officials in the United States, for any race or gender.

Article

Carol Moseley-Braun, the oldest of four children, was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother, Edna Moseley, was a medical technician, and her father, Joseph Moseley, was a police officer. Reared a Roman Catholic on Chicago's South Side, Moseley-Braun graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1969 with a B.A. degree in political science, and three years later, she finished a J.D. at the University of Chicago Law School. While in law school, she met and eventually married Michael Braun, also a lawyer. Moseley-Braun gave birth to her only child, Matthew, in 1977, and in 1986 she and her husband divorced.

Moseley-Braun served in the Illinois State Legislature from 1978 to 1987, and she was the first African American to serve as that body's assistant majority leader. In 1992 Moseley-Braun ran for the U.S. Senate against two-term incumbent Alan Dixon who had ...

Article

Aili Tripp

, Kenyan politician, was born on 1 January 1952 in Mbooni, Makueni District, of Kamba lineage. She obtained management and secretarial training at Government Secretarial College, Kianda College, and the Kenya Institute of Administration for Business. She first worked as a secretary and eventually became a successful plastics and bakery businesswoman. Prior to going into politics, Ngilu had held the position of managing director of a food manufacturing company. She was elected a Member of Parliament for Kitui Central in 1992, 1997, 2002, and 2007.

In 1997 Ngilu became the first woman in Kenya to run for president Later in the race environmentalist and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai also announced her candidacy making her the second woman to join the presidential race During the race Ngilu earned the nickname Mama Masaa a term that plays on her party s symbol the clock suggesting that she is ...

Article

colonel in the Nigerian army and first president of the breakaway Republic of Biafra, was born in the town of Zungeru, near Kaduna in Nigeria. The son of Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, a prolific businessman and first president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Ojukwu was educated at King’s College in Lagos and Epsom College in Surrey before earning a master’s degree in history from Lincoln College, Oxford University.

After returning to Nigeria in 1955, Ojukwu joined the civil service and was initially stationed at Udi, a small village near Enugu, and later at Umuhaia and Aba. After a transfer to Calabar was scuttled, allegedly by interference from his influential father, Ojukwu left the civil service in 1957 and joined the fledgling Nigerian army After a tumultuous start he was given a commission as an officer cadet and sent to Eaton Hall the National Service Officer Cadet School near Chester ...