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Paul Hanson

Roger Abrahams is an interdisciplinary social scientist working in folklore, literature and anthropology, but equally engaged with sociology, sociolinguistics, and history. His research interests range from the cultural forms and practices of the African diaspora, American colonial history, and Appalachian folksong to North American display events and the role of African American Vernacular English in American education. Abrahams is best known, however, as a scholar of the African diaspora. Foundational to Abrahams’s success in such an expansive and comparative endeavor is his sustained reflexive intellectual development, his skill in vitalizing and building institutions and institutional bridges, and his dialectical thinking.

Abrahams was born on 12 June 1933 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1955 he graduated with a BA in English from Swarthmore College. Abrahams went on to earn an MA in Literature and Folklore from Columbia University in 1959; and in 1961 he received his PhD in Literature and Folklore ...

Article

Sulaiman Y. Balarabe Kura

Nigerian professor of political science, was born in Omoku, Rivers state, Nigeria, on 18 February 1939. His father, Geoffrey Aké, was a politician, and his mother, Christiana, was a trader. His wife was named Anita; they had two sons. Aké attended Kings College, Lagos, and the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, then studied at the University of London and Columbia University in New York City, in 1962 and 1963, respectively. He earned a PhD from Columbia in 1966. Thereafter he enjoyed an academic career at different universities across the world. Aké served as an assistant professor of political science at Columbia University between 1966 and 1969, as associate professor, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, from 1969 to 1972, and as a visiting lecturer at the University of Nairobi, from 1970 to 1972, and the University of Dar Es Salaam, from 1972 to 1974 He ...

Article

Akwasi Osei

Claude Eleme Aké (1939–1996) was an intellectual, political economist, activist, teacher, author, and theoretician par excellence of the African condition. For over thirty years, he was the most consistent voice on how Africa must develop. He used his prodigious intellect to champion African development in the service of its peoples. On 7 November 1996, he died in a plane crash on his way from his base in Port Harcourt to Lagos.

Born in Rivers State Claude Aké had a rich academic life he earned a doctorate from Columbia University in New York He went from there to universities think tanks and research institutions across the world in Kenya Tanzania Nigeria Canada Senegal the United Kingdom and the United States He eventually became Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Port Harcourt He held positions at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and the ...

Article

Carl Campbell

was born in Brandon Hill, St. Andrew parish, Jamaica, on 17 April 1905. His father was David Allen. He attended elementary school from 1912 to 1924, suggesting that he stayed on to become a pupil teacher, possibly to take the certificate examinations, the gateway to teacher training. The first major turning point in his life occurred when he entered the prestigious Mico Training College in 1925. This college was founded in 1836 and had continuously been the island s premier teacher training institution Its entrance exam was highly selective fortunately for Allen he entered at a time when a new principal had just controversially raised the standard of work intending to give graduates a pre university experience Mico taught or encouraged students to take subjects beyond the scope of elementary school including those studied in the pursuit of an intermediate degree at the University of London ...

Article

Jennifer Vaughn

author, educator, and economist, was born Richard Franklin America Jr. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Richard Franklin America Sr. and Arline America. In 1960 America received a BS in Economics from Pennsylvania State University and in 1965 an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Harvard University. Afterward, he joined the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California, where he worked for the next four years as a Development Economist in the Urban and Regional Economics Group.

In April 1969 America published “What Do You People Want?” in the Harvard Business Review In it he advocated major federal subsidies to facilitate economic equality and large scale participation of blacks in the corporate world and made suggestions as to how these goals might be accomplished including the transfer of corporations to black shareholders and managers The article offered a radical approach to policy pertaining to reparations and ...

Article

Halbert Barton

was born on 10 November 1953. His name comes from the Swahili word for warrior. As an academic and as a person, he is recognized for his influence and work on behalf of Afro-descendant communities in Colombia.

He is a cadastral engineer, a specialist in management and environmental education, and a professor of social and interdisciplinary research at the Universidad Distrital José Francisco de Caldas in Bogotá, from which he graduated in 2004. His thesis was titled “La construcción de la nación desde lo afroamericano: Caso Bogotá D.C.” (Afro-American Nation Building: the case of Bogotá, D.C.), which is a reference work for the study of Afro-Colombians in the country’s capital. Additionally, he holds a Ph.D. in education from Christopher Newport University in Virginia.

Ayala is a university instructor at the Universidad Distrital and an activist for black causes He works as a consultant and speaker for UNESCO and ...

Article

Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

Dantès Bellegarde was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1877. His family had long been at the center of Haitian politics. Bellegarde's mother was Marie Boisson and his father Jean-Louis Bellegarde. His maternal great-grandfather, Jacques Ignace Fresnel, was named judge by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution, who became the first leader of the independent state in 1804 and soon proclaimed himself Emperor Jean-Jacques I. This same great-grandfather was later minister of justice under President Jean-Pierre Boyer, who ruled all of Haiti from 1820 to 1843. Bellegarde's paternal grandfather, Jean-Louis de Bellegarde, was a duke and marshal in Haiti's second empire during the rule of Faustin Soulouque, who declared himself emperor and ruled from 1847 to 1859. Bellegarde's aunt, Argentine Bellegarde (1842–1901), was a noted educator and an early feminist. Bellegarde married Cécile Savain (1875–1965 ...

Article

Marlene Attzs

was born in Trinidad and Tobago on 27 February 1934. He received his education at the Tacarigua Anglican School and Queen’s Royal College (Trinidad), Downing College (Cambridge University), and Mansfield College (Oxford University). Best launched the Tapia House Movement in 1968, was a founding member of the New World Group, and promoted Caribbean thought as publisher and managing editor of the Trinidad and Tobago Review, as well as through leadership in consultancies and institutes. Lloyd Best served regionally through the University of the West Indies (UWI).

In 1957 Best joined the Faculty of UWI in Mona, Jamaica, as a lecturer in economics and a fellow at the Institute of International Relations, and he remained in academic employment until 1976, when he resigned to contest the Trinidad and Tobago general elections of 1976 under the rubric of the Tapia House Movement THM a party Best had ...

Article

Frank A. Salamone

pioneer in discrediting the racist concepts that characterized early twentieth-century anthropology and other social sciences. Franz Boas was born in Minden, Germany. He received his PhD in physics from the University of Kiel in 1881, but he soon shifted interest into the field of human geography. In 1883 he conducted his first fieldwork, among the Inuit people of Baffin Island. In 1887 he began research among the Indians of the Pacific Northwest. In 1899 he became the first professor of anthropology at Columbia University. When Boas began his anthropological work, anthropology was far from being a scientific field. It was infested with racist practitioners and amateurs. Boas held that too often people developed theories and then sought to gather information to prove their theories.

Article

Elvin Holt

teacher, historian, and folklorist, was born in Goliad, Texas, one of five children of John Henry Brewer, a cattle drover, and Minnie Tate Brewer, a teacher. John Mason grew up with his three sisters, Jewel, Marguerite, Gladys, and his brother Claude in a household that provided a fertile environment for his imagination. His father told exciting stories about his adventures on the cattle drives from the Media Luna Ranch in Texas to the cattle market in Kansas. His mother, a teacher in Texas for over forty years, read the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar to John Mason during his early childhood. As an adult poet, Dr. Brewer would write dialect verse in the manner of Dunbar. Dr. Brewer's love for the oral tradition in African American culture was also nurtured by his grandfathers, Joe Brewer and Pinckney Mitchell, who told him folktales. John Mason ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

economist and educator, was born in Newelton, Louisiana, the fourth of five children of Andrew Brimmer Sr., a sharecropper and warehouse worker, and Vellar (Davis) Brimmer. The family abandoned farming when they found it impossible to make a decent living under the crop lien system, an economic arrangement in which farmers borrowed money at high interest rates to work land that they did not own in hopes of sharing profits that rarely materialized. His parents' efforts to escape debt and poverty were young Andrew's first exposure to economic forces and monetary policy.

As a child Andrew was bright and serious. In 1944 he graduated from Tensa Parish Training School, a segregated high school in St. Joseph, Louisiana. Brimmer joined the U.S. Army and served from May 1945 to November 1946 becoming a staff sergeant in the 645th Ordinance Ammunition Company in Hawaii After the war he took ...

Article

Jamal Donaldson Briggs

economist, philanthropist, and educator was born to William H. Brown, a government employee, and Julia Brown (maiden name unknown), a homemaker, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the youngest of three children. William's employment with the City of Chicago afforded Browne a middle-class upbringing on the city's Southside, which was home to a large African American community. His family lived just a few blocks south of Washington Park, an area where the well-off, but not the most elite, residents lived.

Browne became fascinated with economics while attending the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in the early 1940s. He was the only African American economics major at that university to graduate with honors in 1944 Despite his own relatively comfortable middle class background his research focused on those less privileged than himself particularly on the lack of economic opportunity among African Americans during the Great Depression After graduating ...

Article

Carlos Agudelo

was born on 20 February 1945 in Barranco, a community of Toledo District in southern Belize, to Eugenio P. Cayetano, a primary school teacher, and his wife, Manuela (Marin) Cayetano, a homemaker. Cayetano received his primary education at several schools, because his father, as a teacher, was posted in various communities across Belize, including St. Joseph Primary School in Barranco, Douglas Roman Catholic School in Rio Hondo of Orange Walk district, and San Miguel Roman Catholic School in San Miguel of Toledo district.

As his parents could not afford to send Roy to high school, he availed himself of the pupil–teacher system that existed in those days and became an apprentice teacher before ending up at the Belize Teachers’ College between 1965 and 1968. Cayetano then pursued advanced teacher training at the University of Leeds in England in 1969 and 1970 followed by an A B and M ...

Article

John P. Jackson

sociologist and writer, was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of Horace Roscoe Cayton Sr., a newspaper publisher, and Susie Sumner Revels, a former college instructor and sometime writer. Horace's maternal grandfather, Hiram R. Revels [Cayton], was elected senator from Mississippi at the height of Reconstruction. At the time of Horace's birth, the Cayton family was prosperous, middle class, and living in the heart of white Seattle. Soon after Horace's birth, however, the family experienced financial distress accentuated by the racism of Seattle. Growing up, Horace had various scrapes with the law, culminating in his arrest for driving a getaway car in a gas station robbery. As a teenager he attended, and soon dropped out of, reform school. He traveled widely, supporting himself as a manual laborer.

Eventually Cayton returned to Seattle where he finished high school at a Young Men s Christian Association preparatory school and ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Horace Cayton was born in Seattle, Washington, to activist and publisher Horace R. Cayton Sr. and Susie Revels Cayton, daughter of former United States senator Hiram Revels. Cayton dropped out of high school and joined the military, traveling to California, Mexico, and Hawaii before returning to Seattle in 1923. He finished high school and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in sociology.

In 1934 Cayton served as assistant to the U.S. secretary of the interior, completing a study of African American workers in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1935 he was named an instructor of economics and labor at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. By 1936 he returned to Chicago to direct a Works Progress Administration (WPA) study that focused on inner-city life.

Cayton worked as a columnist for the Pittsburgh Courier and coauthored a book with George S. Mitchell titled Black Workers and ...

Article

Jaime O. Bofill Calero

was born on 27 March 1960, in the coastal town of Loíza, Puerto Rico. Over the course of his professional career, Cepeda has developed innovative musical concepts such as “Afrorican Jazz” and “bomba sinfónica,” which have maintained him at the forefront of both the Latin jazz and classical music scenes in Puerto Rico and abroad. His eclectic style of performance and composition reflects a fusion of the musical realms of jazz, classical, world, and traditional Afro–Puerto Rican music styles, primarily bomba and plena. As a performer he has collaborated and toured with a wide array of artists, among them Lester Bowie, David Murray, Celia Cruz, Batacumbele, Zaperoko, and Tito Puente. William Cepeda has also dedicated himself to the preservation of Puerto Rico’s traditional folk culture through his independent record label, Casabe Records, and various educational projects.

Cepeda grew up in Loíza a town known for its ...

Article

Ruramisai Charumbira

Zimbabwean educator, political activist, member of parliament, cabinet minister, and the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) politburo member, was born Victoria Fikile Mahamba-Sithole on 27 March 1928 in Natal South Africa, to an immigrant family from Manicaland, from then Southern Rhodesia. Young Victoria grew up in South Africa and got her secondary education from Adams College, Amanzimtoti, Natal, one of South Africa’s oldest secondary schools for black education. While at Adams College she met another student who would go on be her husband, an illustrious Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesian) nationalist named Herbert Wiltshire Tapfumanei Chitepo. Victoria Chitepo also earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Birmingham, England, and became a teacher and political activist in Natal until about 1955 when she joined her husband in Southern Rhodesia where he had just become the first African barrister From that time on Victoria s life like many wives of ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

educator and college president. Johnnetta Betsch was born in Jacksonville, Florida, into a middle-class family. A precocious learner, she entered Fisk University at the age of fifteen, transferred to Oberlin College the next year, and earned a degree in anthropology in 1957. Continuing her study of anthropology, she then attended Northwestern University, earning an MA in 1959 and a PhD in 1967. In 1960 Betsch married Robert Cole, a white economist whom she met at Northwestern; they had three sons and divorced in 1982. In 1988 she married Arthur J. Robinson Jr.

Cole held teaching positions at Washington State University, at the University of California at Los Angeles, and at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she remained for thirteen years, 1970 to 1983, both as a professor and later as an associate provost She also taught at Hunter College of the City University ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

anthropologist, educator, and college president, was born Johnnetta Betsch in Jacksonville, Florida, the second of three children to Mary Frances Lewis, an English teacher, and John Thomas Betsch Sr., an insurance executive. Johnnetta grew up in one of Florida's most prominent African American families; her great-grandfather, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, co-founded the Afro-American Life Insurance Company, Florida's first insurance company. An ambitious and civic-minded businessman, Lewis established several black institutions, including the colored branch of the public library, the Lincoln Golf and Country Club, and the seaside resort known as American Beach, the only beach allowing blacks in north Florida. Johnnetta's childhood was shaped by competing influences: her supportive family and community, and the racist attitudes and institutions of the Jim Crow South. Educated in segregated public and private schools, Johnnetta credits the influence of her teachers and her family friend Mary McLeod Bethune with encouraging her ...

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Beverly Guy-Sheftall

Johnnetta Betsch Cole was the seventh president of Spelman College (1987-1997), the oldest college for black women in the United States. Under her leadership, Spelman became the first historically black college or university to receive top ratings by U.S. News & World Report and Money magazine. During her presidency she raised over $113 million in the Capital Campaign Fund, which was the largest sum ever raised by a historically black college or university. After leaving the Spelman presidency in 1997, she joined the faculty at Emory University, where she was professor of anthropology, women’s studies, and African American studies for four years. She also has the distinction of being the only black woman to have been president of the only two historically black colleges for women. In July 2002 she was appointed president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina, becoming its fourteenth president.

Cole ...