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John Ernest

author, businessman, and nurse, was born into slavery near Charlottesville, Virginia, the son of a white man and a black woman, possibly John and Susan Hughes. When he was about six years old, Hughes was sold with his mother and two brothers to Dr. Louis a physician in Scottsville Virginia When Dr Louis died young Hughes was sold with his mother and brother to Washington Fitzpatrick also of Scottsville who soon sent him then about eleven years old to Richmond on the pretense of hiring him out to work on a canal boat Parting with his mother at such a young age was difficult even more difficult was his realization that he would never see his mother again For Hughes this experience became the central symbol of the fundamental inhumanity of the system of slavery a symbol to which he returns at key points in ...

Article

Christopher J. Neumann

autobiographer and black women's rights activist, was born Jane Edna Harris in Pendleton, South Carolina, the daughter of Edward Harris and Harriet Millner, sharecroppers. Following her father's death due to jaundice when she was ten years old, Jane and her three siblings were distributed briefly among the homes of various relatives. His death and the ensuing dispersal of her nuclear family were especially difficult for Jane, in part because she had customarily been “father's ally in his differences with mother” (A Nickel, 12) but also because she now had to forgo formal schooling to earn her keep in Anderson, South Carolina, as a live-in nursemaid and cook. Although treated so poorly by her mistress that white and black neighbors alike protested, she was taught to read and write by the eldest daughter.

Harris entered Ferguson Academy (later Ferguson-Williams College) in 1896 graduating four years later ...

Article

Hassoum Ceesay

Gambian politician, women's rights activist, playwright, and nurse, was born in May 1924 in Banjul, Gambia, to Sir John Mahoney, the first Speaker of the Gambian Legislature, and Lady Hannah Mahoney, a typist. She attended St Joseph's Convent and the Methodist Girls’ High School in Banjul, where she sat her Cambridge School Leaving Certificate Examination in 1942.

From 1942 to 1946 she worked as a nurse assistant at the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) in Banjul, before traveling to England in 1946 to study medicine at the Royal Infirmary, Bristol, where she obtained her State Registered Nurse (SRN) certificate in 1953. On returning to Gambia, she was posted as a nursing sister to Basse, 400 kilometers from Bathurst, where she met and married Dawda Kairaba Jawara. Their marriage at Basse in February 1955 was described in the Bathurst press as a unique occasion which ...

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Jane Robinson

Jamaicannurse, hotelier, entrepreneur, writer, and heroine of the Crimean War. She was born Mary Grant, but no official records of her birth or parentage exist; in her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857), she stated her father to be a soldier of Scottish descent (possibly James Grant of the 60th Regiment of Foot) and her Creole mother to be the keeper of a Kingston hotel, Blundell Hall, and a well‐respected ‘doctress’, skilled in the traditional African use of herbal remedies. Her mother's guests and patients included British army officers garrisoned in Kingston, and Grant enjoyed a close relationship with the Army all her life. She had one sister, Louisa Grant (c.1815–1905), and a half‐brother, Edward Ambleton, who died during the 1850s.

Grant was educated by an elderly woman described in the autobiography as my kind ...

Article

teacher and nurse during the Civil War, was born on the Isle of Wight, one of the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia, the eldest of nine children of slaves Hagar Ann Reed and Raymond Baker. When Susie was seven years of age, she and one of her brothers were allowed by their master to live in Savannah with their grandmother, Dolly Reed, a free person of color. Determined to see her grandchildren learn to read and write even though state law at the time prohibited the education of blacks, Reed found a way around the legislation; she sent the children to a secret school run by a friend. After two years, Susie attended another secret school followed by private tutoring also illegal By the time she was 12 Susie was one of probably only a few slaves in Georgia who had command of written ...

Article

Born a Georgia slave, Susie Baker King Taylor was quite young when an arrangement was made sending her to live with her grandmother in Savannah. She learned to read and write from two white children, even though doing so was illegal prior to the American Civil War. When war broke out Taylor moved with her uncle's family to the Sea Islands of South Carolina. The Union Army, fighting for these islands, pressed her into service as a teacher of freed slave children and adults. Soon after, the men in her family joined the Union's First South Carolina Infantry, and she traveled with them as a nurse and laundress. In 1862 she married one of the regiment's sergeants, Edward King. In her memoir, A Black Woman's Civil War Memoirs she recounted the events of her life in camp with the regiment She is the only black woman known ...

Article

Patricia W. Romero

Taylor is the only black woman to write of her participation in the Civil War, and it is for these experiences that she is remembered. A cursory reading of her memoir, however, reveals something as unique as Taylor’s reminiscences. Through oral tradition, Taylor traces her maternal line back to a great-great-grandmother who, she believed, lived to be 120 years old. According to family tradition, five of this woman’s sons served in the American Revolution, establishing the precedent for patriotism that Taylor would later follow. This female ancestor also must have been among the first African slaves brought to the colony of Georgia, which was founded in 1732. A daughter of this ancestor, Taylor’s great-grandmother, was said to have given birth to twenty-five children, only one of whom was a son. One of her many daughters was Taylor’s grandmother; born in 1820 she was responsible in part for Taylor ...

Article

Joycelyn K. Moody

Susie Reed was born a slave on the Isle of Wight, off the coast of Georgia, in 1848. As a child, she was educated surreptitiously by white schoolchildren and slave neighbors. Once literate, she endorsed counterfeit passes for other slaves, early demonstrating both a defiance against bondage and injustice and a commitment to African American education. During the Civil War, she attained freedom when an uncle took her with his family to St. Catherine Island, South Carolina, then under Union army administration. At age fourteen, she taught island children by day and conducted night classes for numerous adults. Later in 1862, she joined a troop of African American soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel C. T. Trowbridge, and served them as nurse, laundress, teacher, and cook. After the war, she and her first husband, Sergeant Edward King returned to Savannah where King died leaving her to ...

Article

Amber Karlins

was born in Rome, Georgia, to Emory Leonard Tolliver, a hotel bellhop, and Susan Turner Tolliver. Though she was born in Georgia, Melba was raised in Ohio. After graduating high school, she moved to New York City, where she was given a scholarship to study nursing at New York University (NYU). Though she was bright and extremely capable, even graduating with honors, she did not particularly like nursing. After graduating from NYU, she took a job as an operating room nurse, but her heart wasn’t in it. She spent every spare moment she had pursuing a career in acting and taking classes at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She did some commercial work but never found much success as an actress. So in 1967 she decided to explore the world of television She began working as a secretary at ABC and what she had intended to be a ...

Article

Kim Miller

Cameroonian nurse, politician, and writer of fiction, was born in Lomie, Cameroon, in 1935. She attended the Douala secondary school for girls until 1955. Tsogo then moved to Toulouse, France, where she earned a nursing diploma. In 1960 she returned to Cameroon where she worked as a nurse in several different hospitals. She has three daughters.

Her medical work coincided with a notable political career, and Tsogo was one of the first African women to reach some of the top positions in politics. She rose to power in large part because of her work in women’s associations and her unwavering commitment to working on women’s issues. In 1964, Tsogo was elected as the national president of the Council of Cameroonian Women, a position she held until 1985. She became a member of Parliament in 1965 and held that position until 1972 She was the first ...