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David B. McCarthy

Presbyterian minister, educator, and womanist ethicist, was born in Concord, North Carolina, the daughter of Corine Emmanuelette Lytle, a domestic and Avon saleswoman, and Esau Cannon, a millworker, both of whom were elders in the local Presbyterian church. Cannon grew up with three sisters, three brothers, her parents, and her extended family in the Fishertown community, a part of the rural, segregated town of Kannapolis, North Carolina, the home of Cannon Mills. Her earliest work was as a domestic, cleaning the homes of nearby white mill workers. At the age of seventeen Cannon graduated from George Washington Carver High School and then enrolled at nearby Barber-Scotia College, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1971 with a BS in Elementary Education.

In August 1971 Cannon enrolled in Johnson C Smith Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center ITC in Atlanta where Dean James H Costen encouraged her ...

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George Yancy

philosopher and educator, was born in Sharon, Pennsylvania, the ninth of twelve children of the Reverend Isaac William Mitchell Sr., a minister of the Church of God (headquartered in Anderson, Indiana), and Mary Belle Christman Mitchell, a homemaker. Cook was briefly married to J. Lawrence Cook, MD. Cook holds the distinction of being the first African American woman to receive a PhD in Philosophy in the United States. She was also the first woman appointed to teach in the department of philosophy at Yale College (September 1959 to June 1961) and the first African American woman to teach philosophy at Howard University (September 1966 to June 1968 and September 1970 to June 1976).

Cook s early education took place in the Sharon public school system After reading a biography of Madame Curie Cook decided to study chemistry but as an undergraduate at Bryn ...

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Jolie A. Jackson-Willett

scholar, activist, and philosopher, was born Ramona Hoage in Los Angeles, California, the only child of George Hoage and A. Annette Lewis Hoage. Edelin's commitment to education started with the influences of her mother and maternal grandfather, both of whom were university professors. Alethia Annette Lewis Hoage Phinazee served as dean of the school of library science at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina (1970–1983), and has herself been celebrated for her contributions to the field of library science.

The young Hoage got an auspicious start to her own education at the progressive and innovative Oglethorpe Laboratory School at Atlanta University. The campus school's teaching philosophy was geared toward the intellectual advancement of inner-city youth. During Edelin's childhood, the Hoages lived in college towns near South Carolina State and Atlanta and Southern Illinois Universities. In 1963 Ramona graduated from high school ...

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Peter S. Field

Born in Boston and a resident of Concord, Massachusetts, for most of his life, Ralph Waldo Emerson was the ninth in a line of Congregational ministers. His father, William, died before Emerson's eighth birthday, and he and his siblings were raised by their mother, Ruth Haskins Emerson. Educated for the ministry at Harvard, Emerson ultimately quit his pastorate shortly after the death of his first wife in 1831. Dissatisfied with the structure and ritual of the church, Emerson sought a more expansive, democratic venue from which to preach. This he found on the lyceum lecture circuit. In the course of the following decades, he became one of the nation's most beloved and famed public lecturers. Many of his lecturers provided the material for his celebrated essays, which have not gone out of print since their initial publication.

Emerson ranks as the nineteenth century's greatest American liberal thinker. With Frederick ...

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Bruce Kuklick

a professional philosopher who taught for twenty years at the University of Pennsylvania, was born William Thomas Fontaine in Chester, Pennsylvania, the son of William Charles Fontaine, a steelworker, and Mary Elizabeth Boyer, who went by the name of Ballard, having been raised by her grandparents. His grandmother on his father's side, Cornelia Wilson Fontaine Smith, with whom he grew up, had been a slave. Fontaine went to an exclusively black elementary school, Booker T. Washington, and then to Chester High School. At this time he gave himself a second middle name, Valeria, a Latin name connoting physical and mental strength. At age sixteen he matriculated at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and received his BA there in 1930, finishing first in his class. While at Lincoln, Fontaine befriended Kwame Nkrumah, the first black leader of Ghana, and Nnamdi Azikiwe the first black ...

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Sheila Gregory Thomas

educator, dramatist, social philosopher, and activist, was born in Washington, D.C., the youngest of the four children of James Monroe Gregory and Fannie Emma Whiting Hagan. His father, a professor of classics at Howard University, had been a member of the university's first college graduating class in 1872. The family lived on the university campus until Gregory was eight years old, at which time his father resigned from the faculty to head the Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth in New Jersey.

The family's 1897 move to Bordentown gave Gregory the run of a beautiful 225 acre campus on the Delaware River A favorite time for him was Saturday mornings when he and his father traveled to Philadelphia by boat to make purchases for the school for these shopping trips inevitably included dinner at Wanamaker s or Snellenburg s and ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

chair of the Howard University Department of Philosophy following Alain Locke, worked with Locke to interweave philosophy with his understanding of the black experience. Holmes is sometimes described as one of the only two Marxist philosophers of African descent in the United States (along with C. L. R. James), from the 1930s until Angela Davis began teaching philosophy in the 1960s.

He was born in Patterson, New Jersey (McClendon, p. 37), to Samuel and Arabella Holmes, who had been born, like their own parents, in Virginia. Samuel Holmes worked as a bartender and later as a hotel waiter; Arabella washed laundry, sometimes on her own, sometimes as a commercial employee, retiring a few years earlier than her husband. Growing up in nearby Passaic and later in Pleasantville, Atlantic County, Holmes had a brother Lawrence, one year older, and sister Gladys, two years younger (Census, 1910 ...

Article

George Yancy

philosopher and educator, was born in Fort Mott, South Carolina, to Bishop Joshua H. Jones and Elizabeth Martin Jones. Joshua H. Jones, who was remarried in 1888 to Augusta E. Clark, was a president of Ohio's Wilberforce University (1900–1908), a preacher of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church from age eighteen, and a bishop of the AME Church from 1912. The elder Jones was well educated, receiving a BA from Claflin University in South Carolina, studying at Howard University, and receiving both his bachelor of divinity and doctor of divinity degrees from Wilberforce University.

Gilbert Haven Jones was still young when his parents moved from South Carolina to Providence Rhode Island where he was educated in public schools Later the family moved to Columbus Ohio where he graduated from Central High School at age fifteen He then attended Ohio State University College of Arts ...

Article

Delores Williams

college professor, political philosopher, and civil rights advocate, was born Preston Theodore King in Albany, Georgia, the youngest of seven sons of Clennon W. King, a civil rights advocate and businessman, and Margaret Slater.

King followed the family view that education was essential and mandatory and proved himself to be a brilliant scholar at an early age. He entered Fisk University in Nashville at age sixteen. He majored in history, languages, and philosophy and graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. He enrolled in graduate school at the London School of Economics & Political Science in England, where he earned an M.Sc. (Econ.), the Leverhulme Award in 1958, and the Mark of Distinction and a Ph.D. in 1966. He also studied during the summers at Atlanta University (1955), Universität Wien in Austria, 1956, 1958 German language Université de Strasbourg ...

Article

Daniel Donaghy

cultural critic, philosopher, and author of the influential texts Negro Art: Past and Present (1936) and The Negro in Art (1940). Born in Philadelphia, Alain Leroy Locke was the only child of Pliny Ishmael and Mary Hawkins Locke. He attended Central High School and the Philadelphia School of Pedagogy before enrolling at Harvard College in 1904 as a philosophy major, where he studied with some of the country's most celebrated philosophers including Josiah Royce, George Santayana, Hugo Munsterberg, and William James. An excellent student, Locke was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and named the first black Rhodes Scholar in 1907. From 1907 to 1910, he studied at Hertford College, Oxford University, and for the 1910–1911 academic year he studied the work of the philosophers Franz Brentano, Alexius von Meinong, and Christian von Ehrenfels at ...

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Richard A. Long

Alain Locke's role as a general factotum of the Harlem Renaissance has tended to overshadow the full dimensions of an active and productive life. John Edgar Tidwell and John Wright list more than three hundred items spanning the period from 1904 to 1953 in “Alain Locke: A Comprehensive Bibliography of His Published Writings” (Callaloo, Feb.–Oct., 1981). Born in (or near) Philadelphia to parents who were school-teachers, Locke came to maturity in the self-conscious genteel ambiance of Philadelphia's black elite. After completing secondary and normal school studies in Philadelphia, he went to Harvard College, where he majored in philosophy. An appointment as a Rhodes scholar in 1907 followed his undergraduate Harvard experience and he spent time at both Oxford and the University of Berlin, returning to the United States in 1911 Shortly after he began his long career as a teacher at Howard University He received his ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

In his introduction to Alain Locke: Reflections on a Modern Renaissance Man, Russell J. Linnemann points out that although Alain Locke was trained as a philosopher at Harvard, Oxford, and Berlin Universities, “anthropology, art, music, literature, education, political theory, sociology, and African studies represent only a few of his wide range of intellectual pursuits.” Linnemann goes on to hypothesize that this extraordinary breadth of intellectual activity is “the primary reason why a biography of him has not yet been written … few if any potential biographers who might wish to examine the scope of his thought, assess his often provocative contributions, and place them within the context of the appropriate disciplines, would have the intellectual breadth or depth to fulfill the task properly.” The title of Linnemann's edited volume gets to the heart of Alain Locke's legacy: While he is often best remembered for his role in the Harlem ...

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Leonard Harris

philosopher and literary critic, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Pliny Ishmael Locke, a lawyer, and Mary Hawkins, a teacher and member of the Felix Adler Ethical Society. Locke graduated from Central High School and the Philadelphia School of Pedagogy in Philadelphia in 1904. That same year he published his first editorial, “Moral Training in Elementary Schools,” in the Teacher, and entered undergraduate school at Harvard University. He studied at Harvard under such scholars as Josiah Royce, George H. Palmer, Ralph B. Perry, and Hugo Münsterberg before graduating in 1907 and becoming the first African American Rhodes scholar, at Hertford College, Oxford. While in Europe, he also attended lectures at the University of Berlin (1910–1911) and studied the works of Franz Brentano, Alexius Meinong, and C. F. von Ehrenfels Locke associated with other Rhodes scholars ...

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Sylvie Kandé

multimedia artist, philosopher, and educator, was born in Harlem, New York, the only child of Daniel Robert, a lawyer, and Olive Xavier Smith Piper, an administrator. Belonging to a light-skinned African American family, she was confronted early on by challenges that ultimately gave her work some of its unique characteristics, namely the firm assertion of her black identity, her unremitting fleshing out of racial stereotypes, and her commitment to cross-cultural bridge-building. Her involvement with the arts began in childhood: a piano prodigy and ballet dancer, she also took classes at the Museum of Modern Art in 1957. Her political consciousness was first shaped in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which she joined in 1962, and by the events surrounding the March on Washington in 1963, commemorated in her 1983 poster Think about It She graduated from New Lincoln School in ...

Article

Charlene T. Evans

fiction and nonfiction writer, poet, teacher, and philosopher. Nathan Pinchback Toomer was the author of Cane (1923), a modernist text considered an artistic masterpiece and one of the most important works of the Harlem Renaissance. Toomer was born in Washington, D.C., the only child of a brief marriage between Nathan Toomer and Nina Pinchback Toomer. Married twice before, his father was a Georgia planter who inherited wealth from his second wife, Amanda America Dickson. His mother was the daughter of Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback, a Union officer in the U.S. Civil War who was elected to the Louisiana state senate in 1868 and appointed lieutenant governor upon the death of the incumbent in 1871. Pinchback gained the distinction of being the first African American to serve as state governor when he served briefly as acting governor of Louisiana when the governor Henry Warmoth was ...

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Rudolph P. Byrd

Jean Toomer is the author of Cane (1923) and a bridge between two distinct but contemporaneous groups of American writers. The first group consists of authors such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston whose writings define the scope of the New Negro or Harlem Renaissance. The second group consists of such writers as Waldo Frank and Gorham Munson who dominated the literary scene of Greenwich Village and whose writings are characterized by experimentalism and political liberalism. Toomer was a comrade-in-letters to Frank and Munson, and a distant but influential figure to Hughes and Hurston, who admired the achievement of Cane (1923), the three-part collection of sketches, poetry, and drama that established a standard for the writers of the New Negro movement and that conveyed the profound search for meaning at the core of American modernism.

The only child of Nina Pinchback and Nathan Toomer ...

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Peter Hudson

Jean Toomer's position in the canon of African American literature rests on his haunting narrative of Southern life, Cane. Despite Toomer's later ambivalence toward his racial identity, the novel has been rediscovered by successive generations of black writers since its original publication in 1923. Toomer, who was racially mixed but able to pass for white, sought a unifying thesis that would resolve the conflicts of his identity. He spent his life trying to evade the categories of American racial and ethnic identification, which he believed constricted the complexity of a lineage like his.

As a writer, Toomer was nurtured by Greenwich Village progressive aesthetes of the 1910s and 1920s, such as Waldo Frank and Hart Crane. His inspiration for Cane, however, came from his two-month stint as a substitute principal at the black Sparta Agricultural and Industrial Institute in Georgia in 1921 Entranced by Georgia ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

writer and philosopher, was born Nathan Pinchback Toomer in Washington, D.C., the only child of Nathan Toomer, a planter from North Carolina, and Nina Pinchback, the daughter of the Reconstruction-era senator P. B. S. Pinchback. Pinchback was biracial, and he could easily have passed for white. In fact, his sister urged him to do just that when she wrote, “I have nothing to do with negroes am not one of them. Take my advice dear brother and do the same” (Kerman and Eldridge, 19). Toomer's grandfather ignored that advice, went on to become, briefly, acting governor of Louisiana, and was elected to both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, though he was denied entrance to both houses.

Toomer once said that it would be “libelous for anyone to refer to me as a colored man” (Rayford Logan, Dictionary of ...

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David B. McCarthy

Presbyterian theologian and ethicist, was born in Alcolu, South Carolina, the son of Anderson James Williams and Bertha Bell McRae. He spent his early years on the farm his family had purchased soon after emancipation, where nearby the Westminster Presbyterian Church stood on a corner of the family property. But he spent most of his youth growing up in racially mixed Homestead, in metropolitan Pittsburgh, where he attended Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Williams graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an AB from Washington and Jefferson College in 1947, and he earned his master's degree from the same institution in 1948. He enrolled in Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he earned his bachelor of divinity in 1950. Later that same year the Pittsburgh Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained Williams as a minister.

In 1954 Williams received his master of sacred ...