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Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

first African American member of the Oklahoma City Council, family physician, and civic leader, was born in Trinidad, West Indies, to Gertrude St. John, a domestic worker, and John Atkins. He had one younger sister. Charles Atkins immigrated to the United States, arriving at Ellis Island in March 1929. He was required to attend Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, New York City, because the United States did not accept his education credentials from Trinidad. One of the first black students at DeWitt, he graduated in 1933. Aided by the Urban League, he worked as a summer counselor to earn money for college. Although he took some classes at City College of New York, he moved to North Carolina to attend St. Augustine's, an Episcopalian historically black college in Raleigh. He graduated in 1941 with a bachelor's degree in Chemistry. On 27 March 1943Atkins ...

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Crystal L. Keels

missile engineer, trailblazer, and advocate for social reform, was born in 1924 in Detroit, Michigan to parents Carrie and Chester Banfield. His grandfather Moses was born into slavery and managed to move his family up North. The family moved to Detroit from Dublin, Georgia during the Great Migration and settled in Black Bottom, near the Detroit River. Moses brought his wife, Odessa, who was half Blackfoot Indian, and their five sons and four daughters to live a better life outside of the South.

One of six siblings William Banfield s early interests included a love of learning As a child he was particularly inspired by the story of the black revolutionary Toussaint Louverture in Haiti that he read about in an adventure book Reading was an important part of his life and in grammar school he was chosen to represent his school for his work on ...

Article

Joann Buckley

the son of Richard J. Bass, a shoe and clothing salesman, and Rosa Bass. Urbane and his five brothers and sisters grew up on East Duval Street in Richmond. After graduating from Virginia Union University in 1902, he earned his medical degree at Leonard Medical College of Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1906. While there he met his future wife, Maude Vass, sister of another Leonard student, Rufus Vass.

After he married Maude, Bass opened a practice in his hometown, Richmond, Virginia. By 1909 the couple had moved to Fredericksburg, where he became the city’s first African American physician since Reconstruction to establish a medical practice and pharmacy. Bass’s practice on William Street was well received by the African American community. By 1917 his practice was growing as was his family nevertheless when America entered World War I this father of four volunteered One of ...

Article

Robert Fikes

physician and organization president, was born in New York City, the son of Lonnie Harlis Bristow, a Baptist minister, and Vivian Wines, a nurse. At age ten Bristow was exposed to the medical profession by his mother, who was an emergency room nurse at Harlem's now defunct Sydenham Hospital. Bristow would observe the hospital staff from a distance while waiting to escort his mother to their apartment. She introduced him to the hospital's African American doctors, who became his role models as he came to believe that a career in medicine was something he could attain. Bristow graduated from the High School of Commerce in Manhattan and entered Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1947. There he became acquainted with fellow student Martin Luther King Jr.

Two years later Bristow signed up with the U.S. Navy and was on active duty until 1950 He enrolled at the ...

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Togarma Rodriguez

was born on 6 July 1919 in San Pedro de Macorís to Eduardo Maturino Charles and Alicia Dunlop. At the age of 21, he married Luz del Carmen Vizcaino, his wife until his death sixty-seven years later. The couple had six children: Carmen Mireya, Nelson Eduardo, Eduardo Aníbal, Mirtha Gladys, Minerva, and Altagracia.

He completed his secondary education at Santo Domingo’s old Escuela Normal and later enrolled in the Universidad de Santo Domingo, where in 1946 he graduated with a medical degree as part of a larger cadre of talented peers who were responsible for the advancement of medical sciences in the Dominican Republic. Among them were Mariano Lebrón Saviñón, Mario Fernández Mena, Simón Hoffiz, Adolfo Pérez González, Juan Read Encarnación, Julio César García, Napoleón Perdomo, and Jaime Acosta Torres.

Charles Dunlop believed in serving his people and making his medical skills available to every Dominican irrespective of means He ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

U.S. naval officer and naval engineer, was born in Texas. Nothing is known of his parents, nor even his specific place and date of birth. He graduated from Texas City High School in 1967, then attended Prairie View A&M University from 1967 to 1971, graduating with a BA in Electrical Engineering. One of his school's most distinguished graduates, Combs was named Outstanding Student Engineer of the Year by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers and Outstanding Senior Engineer while at Prairie View.

Combs also joined the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC), serving with the future navy vice admiral David Brewer while at Prairie View. Upon completing his undergraduate degree, Combs served for four years in the navy, joining the crew of the aircraft carrier Coral Sea as assistant boilers officer prior to its deployment to Vietnam in November 1971 Two weeks after returning to Texas from ...

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Alexis Cepeda Maule

minister and politician, served thirty-six years (1943 to 1979) in the Illinois State House of Representatives for the 22nd District and acted as associate pastor at Chicago's Quinn African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Corneal was born on a farm near Vicksburg, Mississippi, to a white landowner and an African American former slave named Pearl Darden. After attending primary school at Sisters of the Holy Ghost, a Roman Catholic School, Davis graduated from Magnolia Public High School. At Magnolia there had been one teacher who taught all the subjects.

Davis attended Tougaloo College, a historically black institution near Jackson, Mississippi. Established in 1869 by the Home Missionary Society of the Disciples of Christ Tougaloo offered a first class liberal education to African Americans At Tougaloo he read the newspaper almost every day and participated in the debate society which would help his oratory skills in his later ...

Article

Donna M. Wells

photographer, journalist, and diplomat, was born on the campus of Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University), in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Oglethorpe Laboratory Elementary School, a practice school on the campus. Davis's professional career began in high school and continued until his retirement in 1985. He was first introduced to photography by William (Bill) Brown, an instructor at the Atlanta University Laboratory High School where Davis was a student. Throughout high school and later as a student at Morehouse, Davis supported himself through photography assignments from local newspapers and public relations firms.

Davis's college education was suspended in 1944 when he joined the armed forces during World War II and fought with the Ninety-second Infantry Division in Italy. After his tour, Griffith returned to Atlanta in 1946 and continued his college studies. He befriended writer and professor Langston Hughes and civil rights activist and ...

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Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and pilot, was born Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr. into a middle-class home in Washington, D.C., to Muriel and Benjamin Drew Sr. Drew attended local schools and one day in class was inspired by viewing the launch of Apollo 7 (1968), the first manned space flight after the Apollo 1 disaster (1967) killed all three members of the crew. Drew later reported that from that day on, the path of his life was set. Everything he did in his education was aimed at flying in outer space. That was no simple goal. Applicants to the astronaut-training program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were legion, but NASA selected only a tiny fraction of them to participate. The number of successful African American applicants was fewer still.

Drew graduated from Gonzaga College High School in 1980 and from there he matriculated in the U ...

Article

Edward T. Morman

physician and advocate of reproductive rights, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Ruby Goodwin and Benedict F. Edelin. After finishing eighth grade in the segregated Washington school system, he enrolled at the Stockbridge School, a now-defunct progressive private boarding school in western Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 1957.

Edelin earned a BA at Columbia University in 1961 and returned to Stockbridge for two years to teach science and mathematics. He then entered Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, where in 1964 he helped found the Student National Medical Association. As a medical student, Edelin assisted in treating a seventeen-year-old girl with a massive uterine infection caused by an improperly-performed, illegal abortion. The girl's death inspired him to become an advocate of safe and legal abortions.

Edelin earned his MD from Meharry in 1967, the year in which he married Ramona Hoage The couple ...

Article

Benjamin Letzler

law professor, dean, and diplomat, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to the Reverend Clarence Clyde Ferguson Sr. and Georgeva Ferguson. After a childhood in Baltimore he served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946, earning a Bronze Star, before attending Ohio State University on a football scholarship. He soon left the football squad to focus on his academic work, completing his AB cum laude in two and a half years. Ferguson earned his LLB cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1951, one of three black members of the class.

After a year as a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School and a year in private practice in New York, Ferguson served as assistant general counsel to the Moreland Act Commission to Investigate Harness Racing. Ferguson married the artist and sculptor Dolores Zimmerman in 1954 After her death in the late ...

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Jeremy Rich

, physician and governor of Sierra Leone, was born in 1795 in the West Indies. His father was a Scottish settler and his mother was African American. Fergusson received financial support from his father to advance his education. He enrolled in the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, Scotland, and at only eighteen years of age, Fergusson graduated as a surgeon with his own license in December 1813. He then joined the British army and was certified by the Army Medical Board. Fergusson worked as a hospital assistant at a military hospital for two years. In 1815 Fergusson was assigned to the small British West African colony of Sierra Leone and moved to Freetown The governor of Sierra Leone Charles MacCarthy convinced the army to send him a trained surgeon especially since he needed medical services for Africans rescued by the British navy from slave ships and resettled ...

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Eduardo Silva

also known as Dom Obá II D’África, honorary sublieutenant of the Brazilian army and abolitionist, was born in Vila de Lençóis, in the backlands of the province of Bahia, Brazil. His father (?–1877) was born in Yoruba-speaking West Africa and as a child was sold as a slave in Salvador da Bahia where he was baptized and given the name Benvindo. As a slave he had no right to a surname, but when he was later manumitted he adopted the surname of his former master (Da Fonseca Galvão), probably because it held great social prestige. Benvindo became a lifelong Catholic and learned to speak, read, and write Portuguese. After being manumitted, he married Maria de São José (?–1869), also a formerly enslaved African. In 1845 the couple joined the diamond rush to Lençóis where they had two children Cândido da Fonseca Galvão and Francisca Gil ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

blacksmith and politician, was born a slave in Hardin County, Tennessee. It is unknown whether he was still living there in April 1862, during the battle of Shiloh, one of the bloodiest of the Civil War. By 15 September 1863 he was living in Little Rock, Arkansas, more than 250 miles west of his birthplace. On that day, five days after Little Rock fell to the Union army, Gillam enlisted in Company I, Second Regiment, Arkansas Infantry, which was later renamed Company I, Fifty-fourth Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry. Since he immediately assumed the rank of sergeant, he probably knew how to read and write (noncommissioned officers in the Union army were expected to be able to read orders and file reports). After serving for three years, primarily in Arkansas and Kansas, he left the army in 1866, having reached the rank of first sergeant.

Gillam settled in ...

Article

Jeffrey R. Yost

chemist, was born in Elgin, Illinois, to Augustus Hall, a Baptist minister, and Isabel Hall. In the 1830s his paternal grandfather had been a founding member and later pastor of the first African American church in Chicago, Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME). Hall developed an interest in chemistry while attending East High School in Aurora, Illinois, where he was a debater and athlete, competing in football, baseball, and track.

After receiving a number of scholarship offers, Hall chose to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He graduated with a BS in Chemistry in 1916 He continued his studies in chemistry taking graduate courses at the University of Chicago During World War I he served in ordnance as a lieutenant working on explosives in a Wisconsin weapons factory He suffered from racial harassment at this factory and requested and was granted a transfer after which things improved ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Whether bought by Russians at the slave markets of Constantinople, or by the tsar himself in the Netherlands, scholars agree that Abram, who was born in Eritrea and asserted that he was the son of an Ethiopian prince, entered Russia in 1700 and began his service with the Royal Court in 1705. Within two years Abram, who later adopted the surname Hannibal, had won the favor of Tsar Peter I, known as Peter the Great, who became his godfather when he joined the Russian Orthodox Church. The newly baptized Abram Petrov served as the tsar's personal valet both in Russia and away from it during his military campaigns.

After nine years in service to the court, the tsar sent Hannibal to Paris for further education. In 1718 he joined the French army to gain access to the best military engineering program and during his service he was ...

Article

Nancy T. Robinson

laborer and sharecropper and unwitting participant in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment, was born Ernest L. Hendon in Roba, Alabama, to North and Mary Reed Hendon, sharecroppers. The family resided in rural Alabama, where Ernest Hendon spent his childhood working the family farm.

Hendon studied agriculture at the Macon County Training School. When his father died in 1933, Hendon helped his mother raise his nine siblings: Willie Harvey, Mary Lou, Johngiene, Mable, Louie, Girlie, Lydar, Willion, and North. The family was poor, enduring days of laboring under unforgiving weather conditions, tending small plots of land and picking cotton.

Like many others in his community Hendon suffered from mysterious physical ailments that often went undiagnosed and untreated With limited financial or social resources and in the midst of the oppressive and segregated South there was little opportunity for medical attention in sharecropper communities Travel to seek out a ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Austin, Texas, the son of slaves Jack and Emily Holland. Milton had three known brothers, Toby, William, and James, all part of “the third generation of African-Americans born as slaves” on the Holland Family Plantation run by Bird Holland later the Texas secretary of state Arlington National Cemetery Perhaps because of his light complexion and the fact that he was later freed and sent to school in the North Bird Holland may have been the real father of Milton as well as his brothers William and James a fact speculated upon by some historians Bird Holland would later free Milton William and James and send them north to Ohio in the late 1850s Here Milton Holland attended the Albany Manual Labor Academy an educational institution that accepted blacks and women This school was ...

Article

David Killingray

West African medical doctor, army officer, and political writer born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the son of a liberated slave. He went to school and studied at Fourah Bay Institute with a view to entering the Christian ministry. However, along with two other men, he was selected in 1853 to study medicine in Britain with a view to returning to West Africa as an army medical officer. Horton studied first at King's College London and graduated from Edinburgh in 1859. He was very conscious that he was an African and adopted the name ‘Africanus’. Commissioned into the Army, he returned to West Africa, where he spent twenty years practising as a military doctor and occasionally serving as an administrator. He retired as a lieutenant‐colonel in 1880 Early in his career many of his white fellow doctors resented his role and they persuaded the War Office not to appoint ...

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Shennette Garrett-Scott

child actor, was born Allen Clayton Hoskins in Boston to Florence (maiden name unknown) and Allen C. Hoskins Sr. He had one sister, Jane Florence. His parents’ occupations are not known.

Silent film director Hal Roach signed Hoskins to star in his Our Gang short comedy films when Hoskins was between twelve and eighteen months old. Roach had asked the father of Ernie “Sunshine Sammy” Morrison, a black child actor in the series, to find a dark-skinned child actor with long hair to play Sammy's younger sister. Morrison returned with Hoskins; Roach liked the toddler immediately and felt that he could play either a boy or a girl because of his long braids. Initially, the studios remained vague about Farina's gender in the earliest Our Gang shorts he sometimes wore dresses and at other times pants After several films his character Farina was established as Sunshine Sammy and ...