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Felicia A. Chenier

black theater organizer, writer, director, folklorist, chorographer, and educator, was born in Houston, Texas, the only daughter of Gerthyl Rae and Harvey G. Dickerson, an army officer. As a military child Dickerson traveled extensively with her parents and brother, Harvey. After graduating high school in Syracuse, New York, Dickerson studied at Howard University in Washington, D.C. While there she studied theater and was mentored by noted educator and writer Owen Dodson, who was then the Drama Department chair. Noteworthy of her experiences at Howard is her discovery of writings by Zora Neale Hurston. After receiving a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) from Howard in 1966, Dickerson received a master of fine arts (MFA) from Adelphi University in Long Island, New York, in 1968 During the same year she returned to Howard as an assistant professor of drama and staged her directorial ...

Article

Edward T. Washington

scholar, theater historian, editor, playwright, and director, was born Errol Gaston Hill in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the son of Thomas David and Lydia (Gibson) Hill. Hill's father lived away from the family throughout the boy's childhood, but his mother, a singer and actress in the local Methodist Church, strongly influenced him to pursue a theatrical career. Hill's involvement with drama took a major step forward in the mid-1940s when he co-founded, with the international actor Errol John and others a local amateur theater group called the Whitehall Players While writing acting and directing in that group Hill developed an interest in Trinidadian carnival and steel band music By the early 1950s with the assistance and support of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Council Hill was among the first Trinidadians to air steel band music on the radio Given the worldwide popularity of ...

Article

Debbie Clare Olson

filmmaker, producer, director, playwright, writer, and cultural critic, was born in Newark, New Jersey, but spent most of his childhood in North Carolina. Little is known about his family. After high school, Moss moved to Baltimore and attended Morgan State College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1929. He also attended Columbia University in New York City, where he formed a troupe of black actors called “Toward a Black Theater.” The troupe toured around New York City and performed at various black colleges.

Moss was active in the theater and radio and acted in his first film, The Phantom of Kenwood, in 1933. The film was directed by Oscar Micheaux, one of the more prolific early black filmmakers. Between 1932 and 1933 Moss wrote three dramas—“Careless Love,” “Folks from Dixie,” and “Noah”—for a radio series called The Negro Hour ...

Article

Rebecca Dirksen

was born in Marlique, a rural area of Pétionville, Haiti, on 17 October 1951, to Antoine Canova Parent, a tutor and the director of a rural school, and Silvanie Valemont, a merchant who produced and sold cornmeal and flour made from plantains and other tropical produce. Clark Parent attended primary and secondary school at the École Frère Jules de Pétionville until increasing vision impairment forced him to withdraw. Facing blindness while still a youth, he benefited from private tutors as he advanced in his studies. This physical handicap likely pushed him to develop his other senses and abilities to prodigious heights.

Clark Parent made his first guitar out of scrap materials at age 8 or 9, and, with his siblings, he would regularly entertain the neighborhood community with live music on Sunday afternoons. Self-taught as a musician, this childhood pastime would become something much more significant: in 1969 ...

Article

Edward F. Sweat

The only son of Nathan and Catherine Tillman, Nathaniel Patrick Tillman, Sr. was born on January 17, 1898, in Birmingham, Alabama. Tillman's parents died when he was still a boy, and he was reared by his grandmother. He received his B.A. degree in 1920 from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. On September 13, 1920, Tillman married Mattie V. Reynolds. Two children were born from that union: Nathaniel P., Jr., who later became a well-known educator, and Virginia, later Mrs. Whatley. After spending two years as a teacher at Alcorn College in Mississippi, Tillman returned to Atlanta in 1924 and spent the remainder of his academic career there.

Tillman earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin, in 1927 and 1940, respectively. He also studied at the University of Oxford in England in the summer of 1934 and ...

Article

Nicola Cooney

Solano Trindade was born in 1908 in Recife, a town in northeastern Brazil, the son of a mulatto cobbler and a mestizo (of indigenous and European descent) woman. His interest in folklore and popular arts was instilled at an early age, as he would routinely accompany his father to local folk dances and read aloud to his illiterate mother.

After some advanced schooling, Trindade became a Presbyterian deacon and began to write poetry. His early works were mystical writings, and his black poetry would evolve soon thereafter. In 1936 Trindade published his first book, Poemas Negros, and founded the Frente Negra Pernambucana (Black Front of Pernambuco) and the Centro Cultural Afro-Brasileiro (Afro-Brazilian Cultural Center). These groups united a group of contemporary black writers with a view to collecting and disseminating the work of fellow Afro-Brazilian poets and painters. In 1959 Trindade founded the Teatro Popular Brasileiro Brazilian ...

Article

Betty Kaplan Gubert

Walton, Lester A. (20 April 1882–16 October 1965), diplomat, journalist, civil rights activist, and theater producer, was born Lester Aglar Walton in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Benjamin A. Walton, Sr., and Olive May Camphor Walton. After graduation from Sumner High School, Walton began his career as a journalist at the Globe-Democrat. He worked as a court reporter, covered general stories, and wrote a column on golf for the St. Louis Star Sayings, later the St. Louis Star-Time, from 1902 to 1906. Walton was thus the first African American to write for a white daily, and he was an active member of the St. Louis Press Club. For a time he also wrote for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, under Herbert Bayard Swope.

During these years Walton and Ernest Hogan a well known entertainer were copyrighting the words and music respectively ...