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Linda Spencer

classicist and first African American to teach in the Cleveland, Ohio, secondary schools, was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the second daughter of Charles Waddell Chesnutt and Susan Chesnutt. Her parents had met while both were teaching at the Howard School in Fayetteville. Her father was a prominent African American novelist, short-story writer, lecturer, and lawyer. His fiction confronted prejudice, disfranchisement, segregation, and American stereotypes and racial mythologies. Her mother was a teacher who became a full-time homemaker after her children were born. Helen's paternal grandparents were free blacks who had emigrated from North Carolina to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1856 and were active in the Underground Railroad Her paternal great grandmothers were of mixed race and probably her paternal great grandfathers were white Helen s father wrote about rejecting passing and the white hypocrisy toward miscegenation She came from a long line of people who worked for integration ...

Article

Michele Valerie Ronnick

professor of ancient Greek, philologist, ordained Methodist minister in the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, and missionary to the Congo, was born in Hephzibah, Georgia, not far from Augusta, to Gabriel and Sarah Gilbert. His parents were field hands, and scholars are not certain whether John was born free or enslaved. Some sources give his birth date as 6 July 1864. As a child he was eager to learn, but he had to mix long hours of farm work with brief periods of school. At last overwhelmed by poverty he was forced to withdraw from the Baptist Seminary in Augusta. After a three-year hiatus from schooling he resumed his work when Dr. George Williams Walker, a Methodist pastor who had come to Augusta to teach in 1884, and Warren A. Candler pastor of Augusta s St John Church offered him assistance With the help ...

Article

Michele Valerie Ronnick

classicist, educator, and university president, was born in extreme poverty in a cabin a few miles outside of Walhalla, South Carolina. After his father died, his mother Leah (n.d. – 1916) remarried and he gained two additional siblings. He was one of five children. Family tradition says that he was named for two Union soldiers whom Leah had helped during the Civil War. Lovinggood was not able to attend public school as a child. His mother needed his help at home and his only training came from the Freedman's Aid Society of the Methodist church. At the age of eighteen, he entered Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia. Among his teachers were President Edward O. Thayer and Professor William Henry Crogman, who taught ancient Greek.

Having had almost no training, Lovinggood spent considerable effort catching up, but in 1890 at age twenty six he graduated with honors having ...

Article

Mathias Hanses

classicist, Congregationalist preacher, and the first African American to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the youngest child of Henry Moore and his second wife Rebecca (née Beasley). Louis would in his early years have witnessed the black community's enthusiasm toward such new freedoms as political participation. At the same time, he suffered the hardships besetting his family of twenty-eight in the transforming Deep South. Before Louis turned ten years old, his home state's race relations started slipping toward their “nadir.” Alabama endured Ku Klux Klan terrorism and voter intimidation; a “Redeemer” government rose to power in 1874 as black workers and sharecroppers fell into economic dependency on their former owners; and in 1876 federal Reconstruction efforts were sacrificed to political deal making which further impeded blacks access to polls and lecterns Still increasing numbers of African Americans came to ...

Article

Donna Tyler Hollie

educator, author, editor, and first professional African American classical scholar, was born in Macon, Georgia, the only survivor of three children of Jeremiah Scarborough, a railroad employee, and Frances Gwynn, a slave. His enslaved mother was permitted by her owner, Colonel William de Graffenreid, to live with her emancipated husband. Jeremiah Scarborough was given funds to migrate to the North by his emancipator, who left $3,000 in trust for him should he decide to move to the North. Not wanting to leave his enslaved wife and son, he chose to remain in Macon. According to the Bibb County, Georgia, census of 1870, he had accumulated $3,500 in real property and $300 in personal property.

The Scarboroughs were literate and encouraged their son s academic development They provided a variety of learning experiences for him they apprenticed him to a shoemaker and ...

Article

Michele Valerie Ronnick

William Sanders Scarborough was the son of Frances Gwynn (d. 1912) and Jeremiah Scarborough (d. 1883). His mother was born in Savannah around 1828, and came to Macon about the age of twenty. Of Yamacraw Indian, Spanish, and African descent, she was the slave of Colonel William de Graffenreid (1821–1873) who was general counsel to the Southwestern and Central railroads in Macon. DeGraffenreid was a descendant of the founder of New Bern, North Carolina, the Swiss Baron Christopher DeGraffenreid (1691–1742). Scarborough's father was born near Augusta around 1822. He had obtained his freedom some time before and was employed by the Georgia Central Railroad in Savannah. DeGraffenreid allowed Frances to marry Jeremiah, and permitted the couple to live in their own home on Cotton Avenue. Scarborough became their sole focus, when his siblings, John Henry and Mary Louisa died as small ...

Article

Mathias Hanses

Howard University professor of five decades, international authority on blacks in the ancient Mediterranean, and “dean” of African American classicists, was born in York County, Virginia, the son of Alice (née Phillips) and Frank Martin Snowden Sr., a War Department employee. The transatlantic turmoil of the 1910s swept the Snowdens from the rural South to Boston, Massachusetts. In 1917, the year the United States entered World War I, they joined increasing numbers of southern blacks who migrated to the brimming industrial centers of the North as military production needs peaked. For the Snowdens, at least, the move to New England was a success. Later in life, Frank Junior did not recall experiencing any discrimination as he grew up in racially diverse Roxbury, Massachusetts.

In 1922 Frank passed the entrance examination to the highly selective Boston Latin School The institution rigorously discarded those whose performance was considered subpar ...

Article

Mathias Hanses

educator and first black university classicist in the state of Virginia, was born in Richmond, Virginia, apparently to a single mother. In April 1865, when Williams was three years old, Richmond fell to Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant, mere days before the South's ultimate surrender at Appomattox. Retreating Confederates set fire to their capital, but the two-day blaze presented Richmond's black population with some unprecedented prospects. Williams was among the first generation of Southern blacks to gain legal access to public schools, and his mother put enough trust in his talent to enroll him early on. Upon his graduation from Richmond Normal School in 1877, Williams was awarded a gold medal for his superior scholarship and conduct, as well as a silver medal for excellence in orthography. These early successes prefigured the steep rise to prominence of a life cut short in its prime.

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