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Thomas Clarkin

scholar and diplomat, was born Ralph Johnson Bunche in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Fred Bunch, a barber, and Olive Agnes Johnson. His grandmother added an “e” to the family's last name following a move to Los Angeles, California. Because his family moved frequently, Bunche attended a number of public schools before graduating first in his class from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles in 1922. He majored in Political Science at the University of California, Southern Branch (now University of California, Los Angeles [UCLA]), graduating summa cum laude and serving as class valedictorian in 1927. He continued his studies in political science at Harvard, receiving his MA in 1928, and then taught at Howard University in Washington, D.C., while working toward his PhD at Harvard. In 1930 he married Ruth Ethel Harris they had three children Bunche traveled to Europe and Africa researching ...


Ben Keppel

Born in Detroit, the son of a barber, Bunche graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1927 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in government from Harvard in 1934. His dissertation, French Administration in Togoland and Dahomey, won an award as the best political science dissertation produced at Harvard that year. Bunche founded the political science department at Howard University, where he taught from 1928 to 1950. His book A World View of Race (1936) saw racial conflict as a product of class conflict. He was an influential adviser to the Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal on his classic 1944 study of U.S. race relations, An American Dilemma. Bunche married Ruth Ethel Harris, a Washington, D.C., schoolteacher, in 1930. They had three children.

During World War II Bunche served in the Office of Strategic Services ...


Lawrie Balfour

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Ralph Johnson Bunche spent his early years with his parents in Detroit and in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He attributed his achievements to the influence of his maternal grandmother, Lucy Johnson, with whom he lived in Los Angeles, California, after he was orphaned at age thirteen. Johnson not only insisted that her grandson be self-reliant and proud of his race, but also that he, a high school valedictorian, go to college.

Bunche enrolled at the University of California at Los Angeles, and after graduating summa cum laude in 1927, he entered graduate school at Harvard University in Massachusetts. He was the first black American to earn a Ph.D. degree in political science from an American university. Bunche won the prize for the outstanding doctoral thesis in the social sciences in 1934 He conducted his postdoctoral research on African colonialism He did his research ...


Joseph C. Heim

scholar, university professor, diplomat, UN administrator, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. In the 1950s and 1960s Bunche was the most visible African American on the world stage. But his accomplishments were far in the future when he was born in modest circumstances in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Fred Bunche, a barber, and Olive Bunche. His parents, however, were constantly in poor health, and after their early deaths Bunche was raised by his grandmother, Lucy Johnson, in Los Angeles.

His grandmother s diligence and inspiration guided and shaped Bunche s youth and he compiled a record of stellar achievement both in athletics he later was a guard on the basketball team of the University of California at Los Angeles UCLA and in academics This he did while holding numerous jobs from delivering newspapers to laying carpets on merchant ships His early years also ...


Chris Saunders

the last state president of apartheid South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was born in Johannesburg on 18 March 1936, the son of a leading National Party (NP) politician. Widely known, from his initials, as F. W., the younger de Klerk practiced law before entering politics. After being elected as a member of Parliament for the Vereeniging constituency in 1972, he rose rapidly through the ranks of the NP until he became leader of the party in early 1989 and state president in September that year. He held that position until May 1994, when Nelson Mandela succeeded him. He then became one of two deputy-presidents under Mandela until mid-1996, when he left the government of national unity and became leader of the opposition in Parliament. He retired as leader of the NP and from politics in September 1997.

De Klerk was a key figure in ...


F. W. De Klerk was born to an Afrikaner family with a long history of involvement in South African politics. His own political career began during adolescence, when he joined the youth section of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party.

In 1958 De Klerk received a law degree from Potchef- stroom University. He practiced law in Veereniging from 1961 until 1972, all the while serving as chairman of the local chapter of the National Party. He then abandoned his law career and became a member of Parliament in South Africa. De Klerk rose quickly through the party’s rank and file, with appointments to numerous cabinet posts. As a minister he had little patience for antiapartheid protests but was known as a conciliator within the party.

After South African president Pieter Willem Botha had a heart attack in 1989 De Klerk became the leader of the National Party Later that ...


Katya Leney-Hall

Egyptian Nobel Laureate, diplomat, international civil servant, and scholar who served as the director general (DG) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) between 1997 and 2009, was born in Cairo. His father was Mostafa ElBaradei, a lawyer and president of the Egyptian Bar Association, who campaigned for a free press and an independent legal system. ElBaradei studied law at the University of Cairo (1962), and completed his PhD in international law at the New York University School of Law (1974).

ElBaradei joined the Egyptian Diplomatic Service in 1964; his postings included the Egyptian Permanent Missions to the United Nations (UN) in New York and Geneva. Between 1974 and 1978 he served as a special assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister Working under another Egyptian diplomat who would later leave his mark on the UN Boutros Boutros Ghali he attended the Camp David ...


Susan Shepler

peace activist, social worker, women's rights advocate, and 2011Nobel Laureate, was born on 1 February 1972 in central Liberia and raised in the country's capital, Monrovia. Her father worked as the head radio technician and liaison to the United States for the government of Liberia's National Security Agency. Her father was hired under President William Tolbert, was arrested and jailed for nine months when Samuel Doe seized power in 1980, and was reinstated upon his release. He resigned with the election of Charles Taylor in 1997 and became head of security at St. Peters Catholic Church. Her mother was a dispensing pharmacist at several hospitals in Monrovia before the outbreak of war.

Gbowee graduated from B.W. Harris Episcopal High, one of Monrovia's best high schools. In March 1990 she began classes at the University of Liberia with the dream of becoming a doctor ...


Marian Aguiar

In a 1965 interview, Nadine Gordimer assessed her political consciousness with a self-scrutiny that characterized much of her political writing: “I have come to the abstractions of politics through the flesh and blood of individual behavior. I didn’t know what politics was about until I saw it all happening to people.” In her novels and short stories, Gordimer has captured the “flesh and blood of individual behavior” in minute and sentient detail, chronicling daily life in South Africa under Apartheid and portraying the human face of resistance.

Gordimer grew up in a small gold mining town near Johannesburg South Africa the daughter of a Lithuanian Jewish father and an English mother Although she read voraciously as a child she was removed from school at age ten because of a perceived heart ailment and had little formal schooling Trailing her mother to afternoon teas the lively Gordimer spent her time observing ...


Stephen Clingman

South African novelist, short story writer, essayist, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was born on 20 November 1923 in the small gold mining town of Springs east of Johannesburg Both her parents were Jewish immigrants her father Isidore was a watchmaker and jeweler from the Lithuanian Latvian border her mother Nan came from England Her father with his foreign accent and ways was disparaged in the family he also absorbed the dominant racial models of the time while her mother took more readily to anglicized colonial mores Gordimer grew up in a nonreligious environment though she attended a convent school for the sake of its superior education Early on she was a dancer and sometimes a truant exploring the physical possibilities of veld and mine dumps with innate energy and relish At the age of eleven however her mother withdrew her from school on the putative ...


Godwin Siundu

Much of Nadine Gordimer’s writing has been inspired by apartheid, once a political ideology and practice in her native South Africa. Apartheid as a system of social engineering was blatant in its exploitation of race as a basis of segregation and oppression, often grading people on the basis of their supposed intelligence or lack of it, borne solely out of their racial belonging. The struggles to implement this system by the Afrikaner political elite and the persistent attempts at resisting and subverting this system are what dominate the themes and style of Nadine Gordimer’s writings.

Nadine Gordimer was born to Isidore and Nan Gordimer 20 November 1923 in Springs, South Africa. She was schooled at the Convent of Our Lady of Mercy and studied for a year at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Among her earliest writings are Face to Face a collection of short stories that was ...


John A. Kirk

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, 15 January 1929. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta from 1944 to 1948. Following in the footsteps of his father and his maternal grandfather, King decided to enter the ministry, and he completed his divinity degree at the predominantly white Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania in 1951. King went on to complete his PhD at the also predominantly white Boston University in June 1955. King took up his first post as a Baptist minister at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, while writing his doctoral thesis. In December 1955, King became involved in a boycott of the city’s buses to protest segregation. The thirteen-month boycott ended in December 1956 after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered buses to desegregate.

The Montgomery bus boycott launched King’s civil rights leadership. In 1957 he helped ...


Emily M. Lewis and Keith D. Miller

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on 15 January 1929, the child of Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., and Alberta Williams King. Alberta King's father, Rev. A. D. Williams, helped found the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP and pastored Ebenezer Baptist Church, which King, Sr., commanded after Williams's death. Both preachers rocked the Ebenezer walls with their thunderous folk sermons while Alberta King played the organ and organized the choir. King, Jr., grew up immersed in the doctrine of Christian love and in the music and oratory of African American Baptist worship.

In 1948 King, Jr., earned a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College, where he heard Benjamin Mays, his father's friend and president of the college, preach during chapel services. Electing to become a minister, King studied at Crozer Theological Seminary and at Boston University where he received a PhD in ...


Timothy B. Tyson

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son and namesake of a prominent Baptist minister, King entered Atlanta's Morehouse College at age fifteen. After graduation he enrolled at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he encountered Walter Rauschenbusch's Social Gospel theology, Reinhold Niebuhr's justifications for the use of coercion to combat evil, and Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolent direct action. Enrolling at Boston University, he earned a Ph.D. in systematic theology (1955). He married Coretta Scott in 1953; they had four children.

In 1954, King was appointed pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. On 1 December 1955, the arrest of Rosa Parks for violating the city s racial segregation ordinances sparked a bus boycott and local organizers selected the twenty six year old King to lead it It happened so fast King remembered that I did not even have time to think ...


Clayborne Carson

King gained national prominence as a black civil rights leader and, during his final years, as a critic of American military involvement in Vietnam. In his memoir, Stride Toward Freedom (1958), King recalled that when initially exposed to pacifism, he concluded that war “could serve as a negative good in the sense of preventing the spread and growth of an evil force.” Only after becoming familiar with Gandhian notions of nonviolent resistance was he convinced that “the love ethic of Jesus” could be “a potent instrument for social and collective transformation.” As the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King became a nationally known advocate of civil disobedience. He led protest movements in Montgomery (1955–56), Birmingham (1963), and Selma (1965), Alabama, that demonstrated the effectiveness of nonviolent tactics in spurring passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 ...


Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, the eldest son of Martin Luther King, Sr., a Baptist minister, and Alberta Williams King. His father served as pastor of a large Atlanta church, Ebenezer Baptist, which was founded by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s maternal grandfather. King, Jr., was ordained as a Baptist minister at age eighteen.


Manfred Berg

Baptist minister and civil rights leader. Martin Luther King Jr. is arguably the most famous and revered African American of the twentieth century. All over the world, his life and legacy epitomize the black struggle for freedom and equality. The years from King's emergence as a civil rights leader during the 1955–1956 Montgomery, bus boycott until his violent death on 4 April 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, are widely considered as the crucial period of the civil rights movement, when the Jim Crow system was dismantled by nonviolent direct action and mass protest. In public memory, his martyrdom has made King into a larger-than-life figure. However, his elevation to the status of a worldly saint has often inhibited a clear understanding of his contribution to the black struggle. Despite four decades of research on virtually every aspect of his life, the debate over King's historical significance continues.


Clayborne Carson

Baptist minister and civil rights leader, was born Michael King Jr., in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of the Reverend Michael King (Martin Luther King Sr.) and Alberta Williams. Born to a family with deep roots in the African American Baptist church and in the Atlanta black community, the younger King spent his first twelve years in the home on Auburn Avenue that his parents shared with his maternal grandparents. A-block away, also on Auburn, was Ebenezer Baptist Church, where his grandfather, the Reverend Adam Daniel Williams, had served as pastor since 1894. Under Williams's leadership, Ebenezer had grown from a small congregation without a building to become one of Atlanta's prominent African American churches. After Williams's death in 1931, his son-in-law became Ebenezer's new pastor and gradually established himself as a major figure in state and national Baptist groups. In 1934 ...


Jennifer Keegan

French-Mauritian writer and Nobel Prize winner, was born on 13 April 1940 in Nice, France, to Raoul and Simone Le Clézio. His father, a native Mauritian of French descent, was a medical officer in British Guyana and then Nigeria. Le Clézio’s mother went to Nice to visit her parents at the start of World War II; Le Clézio lived in Nice until he was seven. As a child, Le Clézio read voraciously in his grandparents’ library, devouring dictionaries and encyclopedias, as well as classics of English, Spanish, and French literature. He began writing at the age of seven, while on the boat to see his father in Nigeria. After spending two years in Nigeria, Le Clézio returned to Nice in 1950.

Le Clézio s childhood experiences of war and colonialism were to exert a lasting influence on his imagination and writing He would remember living in occupied France during ...


Michael E. Latham

economist, development expert, and Nobel Laureate, was born William Arthur Lewis on St. Lucia in the West Indies, the son of George Lewis and Ida Barton teachers When Lewis was only seven his father died and his mother opened a shop to help support her family of five sons Financially assisted by the Anglican Church and inspired by his mother s unrelenting determination the precocious youngster completed the studies required for university admission at fourteen and worked as a government clerk for four years At eighteen Lewis won the St Lucia government scholarship for study in Britain and elected to attend the London School of Economics LSE Although he had wanted to be an engineer Lewis knew that neither local industry nor the British government hired blacks in that field Interested in business and curious about the nature of economics he chose instead to pursue a ...