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Marilyn Demarest Button

educator, administrator, writer, and activist, was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of Thomas Cornelius Cuthbert and Victoria Means. She attended grammar and secondary school in her hometown and studied at the University of Minnesota before transferring to Boston University, where she completed her BA in 1920.

Following her graduation, Cuthbert moved to Florence, Alabama, and became an English teacher and assistant principal at Burrell Normal School. Promoted to principal in 1925, she began to lead students and faculty in bold new perspectives on gender equality and interracial harmony.

In 1927 Cuthbert left Burrell to become one of the first deans of Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. In her essay, “The Dean of Women at Work,” published in the Journal of the National Association of College Women (Apr. 1928 she articulated her belief that covert sexism at the administrative level of black colleges limited their ...

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Along with Frederick Douglass and Booker Taliaferro Washington, historians consider W. E. B. Du Bois one of the most influential African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Born only six years after emancipation, he was active well into his nineties. Throughout his long life Du Bois remained black America's leading public intellectual, despite near-constant criticism for his often contradictory social and political opinions—he was accused, at various times, of elitism, Communism, and black separatism.

Born in the small western Massachusetts town of Great Barrington, Du Bois and his mother—his father had left the family when he was young—were among the few African American residents. Of his heritage, Du Bois wrote that it included “a flood of Negro blood, a strain of French, a bit of Dutch, but, Thank God! No ‘Anglo-Saxon.’” After an integrated grammar-school education, Du Bois attended the historically black Fisk University ...

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Gerald Horne

American social scientist, author, educator, civil rights leader, and Pan-Africanist, was born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois on 23 February 1868 to Alfred Du Bois and Mary Silvina Burghardt Du Bois, in the predominantly white hamlet of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. William’s maternal great-great-grandfather, Tom Burghardt, born in West Africa in the early 1730s, was captured and brought to America by Dutch slavers. Du Bois would later recall hearing in his childhood a West African song that was perhaps of Senegambian Wolof origin.

Du Bois had a fondness for his New England birthplace and by his own account had a relatively charmed childhood An only child abandoned by his father whom he did not remember his doting mother and relatives and supportive teachers muted the pangs of racism sharpened by Reconstruction These heady years permeated the nation not just the South Hence his early years were shaped by genteel poverty Victorian ...

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David Levering Lewis

Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, W. E. B. Du Bois earned undergraduate degrees at Fisk University (1885) and Harvard (1890), and a doctorate in history from Harvard in 1895. Du Bois taught history and economics at Atlanta University in 1897–1910 and 1934–44. From 1910 to 1934, he served as founding editor of the Crisis, the official organ of the new National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

When his most influential book, The Souls of Black Folk, was published in 1903, Du Bois became the premier architect of the civil rights movement in the United States and among the first thinkers to grasp the international implications of the struggle for racial justice. The problem of the twentieth century, he wrote then, was the problem of the “color‐line.”

Du Bois s legacy is complex A severe critic of racial ...

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Thomas C. Holt

scholar, writer, editor, and civil rights pioneer, was born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the son of Mary Silvina Burghardt, a domestic worker, and Alfred Du Bois a barber and itinerant laborer In later life Du Bois made a close study of his family origins weaving them rhetorically and conceptually if not always accurately into almost everything he wrote Born in Haiti and descended from mixed race Bahamian slaves Alfred Du Bois enlisted during the Civil War as a private in a New York regiment of the Union army but appears to have deserted shortly afterward He also deserted the family less than two years after his son s birth leaving him to be reared by his mother and the extended Burghardt kin Long resident in New England the Burghardts descended from a freedman of Dutch slave origin who had ...

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Jody Benjamin

Having embraced a notion of transnational racial solidarity early in his career, W. E. B. Du Bois continued to elaborate and promote his ideas of “Pan-Africanism,” as both a scholar and a political activist, with increasing urgency throughout his life, culminating with his emigration from the United States to Ghana, where he died a few years after that country won its political independence from Great Britain.

The notion of “Negro race” as a conceptual and political unit has roots in Enlightenment-era views of race as an essential marker of human difference. It was also shaped by both the discourses of nineteenth-century movements to abolish slavery in the United States and those of nationalism in Europe. Du Bois was exposed to this thinking throughout his education, beginning at Fisk University in 1885, where some of his teachers had been abolitionists.

Continuing his education at Harvard University Du Bois was taught ...

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Frank A. Salamone

sociologist. Edward Franklin Frazier was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His degrees were from Howard University (AB, 1916), Clark University (AM, 1920), and the University of Chicago (PhD, 1931). Along the way he taught high school in Alabama, Virginia, and Maryland. He conducted studies of longshoremen in New York City and folk secondary schools in Denmark. Frazier also taught sociology at Morehouse College at the same time that he was director of the Atlanta School of Social Work. He joined Alpha Phi Alpha, the first Greek fraternity founded for African Americans.

 Frazier was a prolific author. His works were forthright and honest, provoking strong responses. His “The Pathology of Race Prejudice” in 1927, for example, compared race prejudice to insanity. The threat of a lynch mob led him to leave Atlanta. On the other hand, The Negro Family in Chicago (1932 gained him his ...

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Jan Marie Fritz

civil rights activist, clinical sociologist, and educator, was born in Johnston, a small town in rural Edgefield County, South Carolina. His father, Charles, a laborer, was illiterate, and his mother, Flora, a cook who took in washing, could barely read and write. Both of his parents encouraged him and the three younger children to work hard, be frugal, ask questions, and read. Gomillion remembered going alone and with his mother to ask “white folks to give us magazines,” and remembered that his mother regularly brought home copies of the Chicago Defender and the NAACP's Crisis.

When he was sixteen years old Gomillion left home to pursue his high school education at Paine College in Augusta Georgia He was admitted on probation because he had completed only twenty six months of formal education Although he worked the whole time he was at Paine to pay for ...

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Mary E. Huddleston

civil rights leader, was born Cernoria McGowan in Alto, Texas, a farming town east of Dallas, Texas, the oldest child of John McGowan, a construction worker, and Mollie. While McGowan was still a young child, she and her family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in search of a better life. During the Tulsa race riot of 1921 McGowan and her siblings were hauled to safety in a truck to the state fairgrounds. In the aftermath of the riot, her family relocated to Oklahoma City, where McGowan attended Douglas High School. She graduated in May 1926 and was awarded a scholarship to attend Langston University in Oklahoma, where she received her undergraduate degree in sociology with honors. While at Langston she married William W. Johnson, a school teacher; the couple had two daughters, Judy and Janice.

After a brief period spent teaching twenty six year old Cernoria Johnson ...

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Yollette Trigg

sociologist, promoter of the Harlem Renaissance, and first black president of Fisk University. Charles Spurgeon Johnson was born in Bristol, Virginia, where his parents, the Reverend Charles Henry Johnson and Winifred Branch Johnson, reared their son in a religious home and a nurturing black middle-class environment that facilitated his social and intellectual development. Charles H. Johnson was the pastor of the progressive Lee Baptist Church in Bristol. Winifred Johnson was a homemaker who cared for Johnson and his five other siblings.

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Crystal Marie Fleming

civil rights activist, sociologist, and university administrator, was born in Battles, Mississippi. She was the youngest of three children born to Annie Ruth Woullard and Eunice Stafford Ladner, a presser for a dry cleaner. After her divorce from Eunice, Annie Ruth married William Coty Perryman, an auto mechanic with whom she had six children. Ladner and her siblings were raised in Palmers Crossing, a segregated rural district outside of Hattiesburg. Ladner grew up in a working-class family surrounded by a tight-knit group of extended relatives and neighbors who provided positive role models. Although separated by distance, she always felt a kinship toward her biological father, whose family came from a long line of Creole farmers, artisans, and craftsmen.

Ladner's childhood experiences with Jim Crow segregation racial hostility and economic hardship were mitigated by a supportive black community and a nurturing home environment that bolstered ...

Article

Ervin Dyer

professor of religion and culture, was born Charles Eric Lincoln in Athens, Alabama. Lincoln never knew his father, and his mother, Bradonia Lincoln, left the family when he was just four years old. Until late in his life Lincoln was removed from his immediate family, which grew to include six half brothers and sisters. Lincoln was reared instead by his maternal grandmother, “Miss Matt,” and grandfather, Less Lincoln, on their farm. They were poor, and a nine-year-old C. Eric was forced to take a job walking nearly three miles every morning as a delivery boy for a dairy farmer for thirty five cents a week At a time when most black children in rural Alabama dropped out of school by the sixth grade Lincoln was able to enroll in Trinity School a private missionary academy He was a bright student who finished high school in ...

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Yollette Trigg

sociologist, journalist, and publicist. Robert Ezra Park was born in Harveyville, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. His parents, Hiram Park and Theodosia Warner Park, were first cousins whose fathers were physicians. After serving two enlistments in the Union army, Hiram Park moved his schoolteacher wife and young baby to Red Wing, Minnesota, when the Civil War ended. Red Wing, a small town located approximately forty miles south of Minneapolis on the west bank of the Mississippi River, was home to a diverse mix of transplanted New Englanders, Scandinavian immigrants, and Native Americans. There Hiram established a wholesale grocery business to serve the needs of the burgeoning prairie town and the surrounding frontier communities.

Robert Park spent the first eighteen years of his life in Red Wing where he first became a student of the human condition Having few outlets for entertainment he read dime novels voraciously which fueled ...

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Carl A. Wade

sociologist and author. Ira De Augustine Reid is well known for his pioneering studies of the social and economic experiences of African Americans. Reid's rigorous and sophisticated research about race influenced both thinking and policy at the local and national levels.

After graduating from Morehouse College, Atlanta, in 1922, Reid worked as a high school instructor in Tyler, Texas, and in Huntington, West Virginia, before completing a master's degree at the University of Pittsburgh in 1925. He joined the New York branch of the National Urban League later that same year as industrial secretary, before succeeding the illustrious sociologist Charles S. Johnson as director of research in 1928 Under Reid s leadership the league enhanced its reputation as an instrument for social reform primarily through its surveys of black life Two of these investigated the housing problems of low income blacks in Harlem and the social ...

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Linda O. McMurry

sociologist, was born in rural Iredell County, North Carolina, the son of Alexander Work and Eliza Hobbs, former slaves and farmers. His family migrated to Cairo, Illinois, in 1866 and in 1876 to Kansas, where they homesteaded, and Work remained to help on the farm until he was twenty-three. He then started secondary school and by 1903 had received his MA in Sociology from the University of Chicago. That year he accepted a teaching job at Georgia State Industrial College in Savannah.

Living in the deep South for the first time, Work became concerned about the plight of African Americans, who constituted a majority of Savannah's population. In 1905 he answered a call from W. E. B. Du Bois to attend the conference that established the Niagara Movement, a militant black rights group that opposed Booker T. Washington s accommodationist approach to black advancement While continuing to ...