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Ondra Krouse Dismukes

writer, editor, and scholar, was born in New York City to Dorothy L. Babb and Lionel S. Duncan, both of whom were immigrants from the Republic of Panama. Her parents were part of the larger West Indian community, the “diggers” as many were called, who built the Panama Canal. Babb shared a close relationship with her mother, who instilled in her the value of an education.

Babb attended the Bronx High School of Science, a high school specializing in math and sciences and with some of the best English teachers, whose influence Babb credits for choosing this profession. After graduating from high school in 1973, she enrolled in Queens College of the City University of New York. She graduated with honors in 1977 earning a bachelor s degree in English with a minor concentration in Romance Languages Babb went on to attend graduate school ...

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Dennis Gouws

sociologist, business manager of The Crisis, curator, and musician, was born Augustus Granville Dill in Portsmouth, Ohio, to John Jackson and Elizabeth Stratton Dill. Having finished his secondary schooling at the age of seventeen, Dill briefly taught in Portsmouth before attending Atlanta University, where he earned his BA in 1906. Dill's extracurricular interests included playing the piano for the university choir and serving on the debating team. He earned a second BA at Harvard University in 1908 and an MA from Atlanta University on his return to Atlanta in the same year. There he was mentored by W. E. B. Du Bois, whose post as associate professor of sociology Dill assumed when Du Bois left Atlanta in 1910.

In 1913 Du Bois persuaded Dill to move to New York and assume the responsibilities of business manager and editorial assistant of The Crisis ...

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Augustus Dill was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, son of John Jackson and Elizabeth (Stratton) Dill. He received a B.A. in 1906 from Atlanta University, where he was a student of W. E. B. Du Bois. On Du Bois's advice, Dill went on to earn a second B.A. at Harvard University in 1908.

Dill returned to Atlanta to assist Du Bois on his sociological project of documenting all dimensions of black life in American society. From 1911 to 1915 he coedited four major studies. In 1910, Dill replaced his mentor as associate professor of sociology when Du Bois left Atlanta University to found The Crisis, the journal of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1913, Du Bois hired Dill as business manager for The Crisis, a post he remained in until 1928 Arrested that year in New ...

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Mary Krane Derr

community activist, social service worker, and history conserver, was born Alfreda Marguerita Barnett in Chicago, Illinois. She was the youngest child of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the journalist, suffragist, and anti-lynching crusader, and Ferdinand Barnett, the attorney, civil rights activist, and founder of Chicago's first black newspaper. Along with her three full siblings—Ida, Herman, and Charles Aked—Alfreda had two half-brothers, Albert and Ferdinand Jr., from her father's first marriage. Duster recalled her childhood as happy and both her parents as kind, dedicated people of integrity. She described her father as gentle and quiet, her mother as outspoken and firm. Other activists like Carter G. Woodson, William Monroe Trotter, and Hallie Quinn Brown regularly visited the Barnett home.

The Barnetts lived in a largely middle class interracial sometimes racially tense area on Chicago s South Side A bright student who handled herself confidently among ...

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Wallace McClain Cheatham

college professor, musicologist, pianist, and writer, was born Doris Valean Evans in Washington, D.C., the second daughter of Vallean Richardson Evans and Charlie Evans. Her mother worked for the federal government, and her father was a tailor. McGinty, encouraged by her pianist mother to pursue music, began the study of piano at age seven. At age twelve she gave her first public recital. She continued the study of piano with Andres Wheatley in the Junior Preparatory Department at Howard University and played for Sunday school at the District's Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church. Among her treasured mementoes were the dress and shoes she wore to the historic 1939Marian Anderson command performance at Washington's Lincoln Memorial.

Two baccalaureate degrees, in music education and German, were completed at Howard University in 1945 and 1946 respectively McGinty then went to Radcliffe College in Cambridge Massachusetts ...

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Frances Smith Foster

scholar, teacher, editor, and author, was born Nellie Yvonne Reynolds in New York City, the daughter of Harry, a taxi driver, and Nellie Reynolds, a homemaker. Graduating cum laude from Queens College in 1969 with a BA in English, McKay was accepted into the PhD program at Harvard University for British and American Literature.

McKay was part of the first cohort of African American graduate students determined to include the literatures, histories, and religions of African Americans in their research and study. However, McKay often reminisced about Harvard not having any black literature class and how her graduate colleagues taught one another. Not only did they have to teach one another but they also had to create their own bibliographies and share the few extant copies of the books. McKay dedicated her life to filling this void.

In 1973 she began teaching at ...

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Prentice Herman Polk became interested in photography at a young age. He began studying through a correspondence course which he paid for with ten dollars he was mistakenly given as change for a candy bar at a local store.

Polk attended Tuskegee Institute from 1916 to 1920 and was ...

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Z’étoile Imma

South African journalist, antiapartheid activist, writer, and film producer, was born in the Orlando district of Soweto township in South Africa. Her father, scholar Jonathan Mandlenkosi Sikakane, coauthor of the first English–Zulu dictionary (1972), was son of the prominent African National Congress (ANC) founding member and early black minister of the South African Lutheran Church, the Reverend Absolum Mbulawa Sikakane. Her mother, Amelia Nxumalo, a schoolteacher and seamstress, was descended from Swazi royalty from her maternal side. In her family’s attempt to protect her from the degrading and racist state-mandated curriculum institutionalized by the Bantu Education Act, Joyce Sikakane was sent to primarily private and Catholic schools where she was fortunate to receive a more-balanced and sound education. Upon her graduation from secondary school in 1963 Sikakane refused to attend one of the segregated Tribal Colleges and with the encouragement of her English teacher decided to pursue a career ...

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Ginny Crosthwait

cofounder of Los Angeles's Crips gang, author, Nobel Prize nominee, and antigang activist, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and moved to South Central Los Angeles in 1959, after his parents (names unknown) divorced. Gang rivalry was prevalent in the area, and Williams was intrigued by the thrilling stories he heard from older neighborhood boys who had served time in prison. As a teenager, he spent time in a variety of juvenile detention centers in California and Utah for drug use, fighting, and suspected burglary.

Back in South Central, Williams earned a reputation as an expert street fighter and, along with high school friend Raymond Lee Washington, founded the Crips in 1971 Although the Crips a derivative of crib was originally founded to protect and defend the members and their families from gang aggression it rapidly increased in membership and violent activity to rival the area s other ...