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Mark A. Sanders

In 1912 Batrell published his memoir Para la historia: Apuntes autobiográficos de la vida de Ricardo Batrell Oviedo, the only account of Cuba’s final war for independence written by an Afro-Cuban. Poor and uneducated, Batrell taught himself to read and write, then composed his memoir to document the participation of Afro-Cubans in the war (approximately 60 percent of the Liberation Army was black; see Ferrer, 1999, p. 2), and to present the war from the perspective of a black soldier.

Born on the Santísima Trinidad de Oviedo sugar plantation near Sabanilla, in the province of Matanzas—Cuba’s largest sugar-producing province—Batrell worked as a field hand until the age of 15. On 2 February 1896 he joined the Liberation Army that had months earlier crossed the Spanish fortified ditch (la trocha at Puerto Píncipe and invaded the western provinces Matanzas La Habana and Pinar del Rio Serving in ...

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Richard A. Bradshaw

military officer, president, and emperor of the Central African Republic/Empire, was born on 22 February 1921 at Bobangui, Lobaye region, then in the French Equatorial African territory of the Middle Congo (now part of the Central African Republic) He was the son of headman Mindogon Mgboundoulou, who was murdered at the regional colonial headquarters in the Lobaye, and Marie Yokowo, who died a week after her husband. Bokassa belonged to the same Mbaka (Ngbaka) ethnic group as Central African Republic (CAR) leaders Barthélemy Boganda and David Dacko. His grandfather MʿBalanga took care of Bokassa until 1921, when he entered the Catholic missionary école Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc at MʿBaiki. Bokassa then attended Bangui’s École de St. Louis (1928–1929), which was run by Father Charles Grüner, and an école missionnaire at Brazzaville (1929–1939). Enlisting in the French army on 19 May 1939, Bokassa became a corporal (1940 ...

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Eric Young

A career soldier who had endured a tragic childhood, Jean-Bédel Bokassa ruled the impoverished Central African Republic with brutal repression, used its revenues for his personal enrichment, and crowned himself emperor. He committed barbarities that caused an international outcry and led to his removal from power.

When Bokassa was six years old, his father, a village chief of the Mbaka people, was murdered. Bokassa became an orphan a week later, when his mother committed suicide. Missionaries raised him until age eighteen when, at the outbreak of World War II, Bokassa joined the French Colonial Army. He participated in the 1944 landings in Provence and later served in Indochina and Algeria, attaining the rank of captain and earning the Legion d’Honneur and the Croix de Guerre. In 1960, after Oubangui-Chari became the independent Central African Republic, Bokassa helped create its army and, in 1964 was given the rank of ...

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Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, football coach, college administrator, lawyer, and public servant, was born in Dabney, North Carolina, to former slaves Jesse Bullock and Amanda Sneed Bullock. Looking for better educational prospects for their seven children and perhaps seeking to escape Ku Klux Klan harassment, his parents moved the family north when Bullock was eight years old. After a brief stay in Boston, the family settled in Everett, Massachusetts, in about 1894, where Bullock first made a name for himself as an athlete. At Everett High School he excelled at football, baseball, and ice hockey, and his teammates elected him to serve as the captain of each of these teams his senior season.

After graduating in 1900 Bullock entered Dartmouth College which like many schools outside of the South admitted black students and encouraged them to participate in the life of the school Bullock took advantage of the wide range ...

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Connie Park Rice

newspaper editor and civil rights lawyer, was born in Williamsport, Virginia (later West Virginia), the youngest of three sons born to Isaac Clifford, a farmer, and Mary Satilpa Kent, free blacks living in Hardy County. John Robert joined the Union army on 3 March 1865, rising to the rank of corporal in the 13th U.S. Heavy Artillery. After serving in Kentucky, Tennessee, and eastern Virginia under General Ulysses S. Grant, Clifford volunteered for service at Chicago, Illinois.

After the Civil War, Clifford remained in Chicago, staying from 1865 to 1868 with the Honorable John J. Healy, an acquaintance of his father, and graduating from Chicago High School. Clifford worked as a barber before going to live with an uncle in Zeno, Muskingum County, Ohio, where he attended a school taught by Miss Effie McKnight and received a diploma from a writing school conducted by a Professor ...

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Kathryn L. Beard

attorney and co-founder of the Michigan Federated Democratic Club (MFDC), was born in British Guiana (Guyana), South America. Little is known about his life prior to his emigration from the colony. Because Craigen grew up near Spanish-speaking countries such as Venezuela, he became bilingual at an early age. During World War I he served in the United States Navy as a Spanish interpreter stationed in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. At the end of the war he migrated to Detroit where he worked in the automobile industry and became active in Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

The Detroit UNIA had more than 4 000 members in the 1920s making it one of the largest divisions of the organization As was true for other northern cities where the UNIA had a considerable presence African American migrants from the South comprised much of the rank and file of the organization while ...

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Marcus Shepard

lawyer, businessman, civil rights leader, and Chicago alderman, was born in Canton, Mississippi, to Edward Dickerson and Emma Garrett Fielding. Earl Dickerson's maternal grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Garrett, bought his freedom in the 1850s and owned a livery stable as well as several other properties in Canton. His business was destroyed during the Civil War, however, and by the time Earl was born the family lived in relative poverty. Edward Dickerson, who worked away from home as an upholsterer, died when Earl was five and he was raised by his mother, who did laundry for local whites, his paternal half-sister, and his maternal grandmother, who ran a small boarding house in Canton.

In 1906 Dickerson was sent to live with relatives in New Orleans where he attended the preparatory school of New Orleans University Unfortunately family finances forced him to return to Canton ...

Article

Richard Saunders

lawyer and minister, was born James Frank Estes to Melvoid Estes and Bertha Lee Walker Estes in Jackson, Tennessee. Graduated from Lane College in 1942, Estes captained the football team and married a friend and classmate, Frances D. Berry. Enlisting in the Army the same year, he served on active duty in Europe and was one of the few African Americans accepted to Officer Candidate School. Estes was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1943 for the racially segregated 1317th Engineers General Service Regiment. The 1317th engaged in the Normandy landings on D-Day, as well as the Allied Forces Rhineland Campaign and battle for Central Europe. At his discharge in 1945 Estes remained in the reserves and enrolled at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which conferred on him an LL.B. degree in 1948 Returning to Tennessee Estes opened a law office on Beale Street the economic center ...

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Twinette L. Ackerson

educator, activist, and lawyer, was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, one of five children. Francis's father, Joseph A. Francis, a barber who owned his own business, was known around town as “Mr. Joe the Barber.” Though his father and mother, a homemaker, provided the necessities for their children, they were considered poor for the times. In what could be considered a foreshadowing of Francis's lifelong career path, his parents believed strongly in the benefits and importance of education for their children. They expressed that belief by sending their children to Catholic schools and making sure they kept up with their studies.

Francis attended Saint Paul Catholic High School in Lafayette, Louisiana. He was the class president and valedictorian. After graduating from Saint Paul in 1948, Francis entered Xavier University of New Orleans. In 1952 he earned his BA degree from Xavier and enrolled in Loyola ...

Article

Antje Daub

athlete, scholar, soldier, and judge, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, one of nine children of Walter Holmes Gourdin, a meat cutter and part Seminole Indian, and Felicia Nee, an African American woman who was a housekeeper. Little is known about his early school career, other than that he was valedictorian of his high school class in 1916. Although poor, Gourdin's parents recognized their son's talents and educational potential and, following his high school graduation, moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to further his career. There, Gourdin attended Cambridge High and Latin, which helped prepare him for the high academic demands of an Ivy League education.

By the time he enrolled in his freshman year at Harvard in 1917 Gourdin appears to have been a conscientious and responsible student To pay tuition he supported himself by working as a postal clerk He also became a ...

Article

Edward Morrow

Edward Orval Gourdin was born on August 10, 1897, in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Walter Holmes and Felicia Garvin Gourdin. As a child, Gourdin demonstrated such athletic and scholarly excellence that his family sacrificed and took him to Massachusetts to realize his potential. He prepared at Stanton and Cambridge Latin high schools for Harvard College and graduated in 1921 with a B.A. degree; he completed Harvard Law School in 1924 with an LL.B. degree. On May 10, 1923, he married Amalia Ponce of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who became the mother of their four children: Elizabeth, Ann Robinson, Amalia Lindal, and Edward O., Jr.

Gourdin gained fame as an athlete during his college and university career, passed the bar, practiced law in Boston, Massachusetts, and joined the National Guard in 1925. During World War II he served as lieutenant colonel and later ...

Article

Daniel Donaghy

civil rights attorney. Oliver White Hill was born in Richmond, Virginia, to William Henry White Jr. and Olivia Lewis White. His parents separated when he was very young, and Hill eventually took his stepfather's surname. His family lived in Roanoke for a time and then moved to Washington, D.C., where Hill attended Dunbar High School. After graduation, he attended Howard University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1931 and his law degree in 1933. At Howard, Hill befriended the future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall.

From the beginning of his law career, Hill was interested in civil rights work. He opened a practice in Richmond in 1939, and the next year he worked with Marshall and others to win Alston v. School Board of Norfolk, Virginia which secured equal pay for African American teachers As World War II mounted in Europe Hill enlisted he ...

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Brian J. Daugherity

NAACP attorney, politician, and civil rights activist, was born Oliver White in Richmond, Virginia, the son of William Henry White Jr. and Olivia Lewis White, both resort employees. His parents divorced in 1911, and when his mother married Joseph C. Hill, Oliver took his stepfather's last name.

Oliver Hill spent much of his youth and adolescent years in Roanoke, Virginia. For most of these years he lived with friends of his family—the Pentecosts—while his mother and stepfather lived and worked in Hot Springs, Virginia, and then in Washington, D.C. Hill went to school in Roanoke until the eighth grade, when he moved to Washington, D.C., to join his mother and stepfather. He then went to Dunbar High School there, which enjoyed a reputation for academic excellence.

Hill obtained his bachelor's and law degrees from Howard University, completing his studies in 1933 He was ...

Article

Richard L. Aynes

World War II veteran, city councilman, and judge, was born in Lake City, Florida, the youngest of fifteen children of William and Hattie (Howard) Jackson. He spent his early years in Orlando, Florida. Courage was his touchstone for life. When he was seven, an armed mob with torches came to his home looking for one of his older brothers on trumped-up charges. His mother sent him out the back door into the darkness to call together armed family members while she led the mob by a circuitous route to the brother's home. The family members Jackson brought escorted the brother to jail and successfully prevented the brother's lynching.

Jackson earned a BA from Morehouse College in 1943 and an MA in Business Administration from Atlanta University in 1946. On 7 September 1945 he married his college sweetheart Gilberta Jackson in Atlanta Georgia They had ...

Article

David Childs

military corporal, town marshal, and gunslinger, was a Civil War soldier of the seventh Illinois Rifles. Little is known about his life in the three decades before the war. After the war ended, Kennard struggled to find employment and enlisted in the Ninth Cavalry, an entirely African American unit. His unit served in Fort Bliss, Texas, and then moved to the Arizona Territory at Fort Davis, where they fought against Apache Indians. He earned a reputation for having a talent with weaponry and became an arms instructor for nearly twenty-five years. In the summer of 1874 Kennard responded to an ad, in the Rocky Mountain News, for a town marshal in Yankee Hill, located in the Colorado Territory, for $100 per month. He travelled to the town and sought out the local leaders to inquire about the position.

He was directed to Yankee Hill s five city councilmen who ...

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Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, lawyer, soldier, and civil servant, was born in Washington, D.C., to Alexander Marshall, an employee of the Treasury Department, and Leatha Marshall, a homemaker. He attended the M Street High School, then prepped for a year at New Hampshire's Phillips Exeter Academy, where he was editor-in-chief of the Phillips Exeter Literary Monthly and a member of the track team. In 1893 he entered Harvard and immediately joined the Crimson track squad, on which he represented the college for four consecutive seasons, specializing in the 440-meter and quarter-mile runs. In 1894 he finished third in the quarter-mile at the Inter-Collegiate Amateur Athletic Association of America national championships. He competed for three more seasons and became the school's second black varsity athlete behind the football player William Henry Lewis Marshall was also an active member of the Harvard Union debating club and was well ...

Article

Jamie Christy

Ernest Morial (b. 9 October 1929; d. 24 December 1989), lawyer, civil rights activist, assistant U.S. attorney, judge, and mayor of New Orleans, was the father of Marc Haydel Morial (b. 3 January 1958), lawyer, civil rights activist, state senator, and mayor of New Orleans.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Ernest Nathan “Dutch” Morial was the youngest of six children. His parents, Walter Etienne Morial, a cigar maker, and Leonie Moore Morial, a seamstress, were devout Catholics, and Ernest attended the Holy Redeemer and McDonough No. 35 schools in New Orleans. At Xavier University, the country's only historically black Catholic college, also in New Orleans, Morial was president of the first black Greek fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and he graduated in 1951.

In 1954 Morial was the first African American to graduate from Louisiana State University ...

Article

judge, politician, civil rights activist, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the youngest of six children of Leonie V. and Walter Etienne Morial, the latter a “black Creole” cigar maker. Morial attended public and private schools, graduating from Xavier University in 1951, and was the first African American graduate of Louisiana State University Law School in 1954. After serving two years in the army, he returned to his law partnership in New Orleans in 1956 and served as general counsel to the Standard Life Insurance Company from 1960 to 1967, and he was appointed assistant U.S. attorney for New Orleans from 1965 to 1967 before embarking on a career in electoral politics.

In the intervening years he lectured at Tulane University. Sybil Gayle Haydel, the daughter of a prominent New Orleans family, became his wife on 17 February 1955 and the ...

Article

Cecily Jones

Nickname of Rahasya Rudra Narayan (1938–1998), barrister and civil rights activist. He was born in British Guiana (now Guyana), the ninth of ten children of Indo‐Guianan parents. He arrived in Britain in 1953, and after a series of menial jobs enlisted in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, where he served until 1965, before leaving with the rank of sergeant. He then read for the Bar, at Lincoln's Inn, where he helped to found the Bar Students' Union, and later also became the Union's first president. He was called to the Bar in 1968, a year before his marriage to Dr Naseem Akbar, with whom he had two daughters.

When, in 1973, Narayan and Sighbat Kadric QC founded the Association of Commonwealth Lawyers (the predecessor to the Immigrant Lawyers' Group, which became the Society of Black Lawyers in 1981 the chairman of the ...

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Alice Bernstein

lawyer, civil rights leader, and federal jurist, was one of three children born to Matthew Perry, a tailor, and Jennie Lyles in Columbia, South Carolina. He grew up in the Jim Crow era and his parents, who had a limited education, passionately wanted their children to have more opportunities. His father served in World War I and his exposure to mustard gas left him with a debilitating illness. While Perry Sr. received treatment in a Veterans Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama, the family lived there and in Columbia. Matthew was twelve when his father died, and the children were then raised in Columbia by their maternal grandfather, William Lyles, a brakeman on the Southern Railroad. During the Depression Perry helped support the family by working after school digging ditches, among other jobs, while his mother found work in New York as a seamstress.

He attended segregated ...