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Eric Gardner

writer, activist, minister, doctor, and businessman, was born in Washington, D.C., or nearby Maryland, probably to Thomas Detro (or Detrow), a stonemason, and his wife, Eleanor. Detter was educated in Washington, D.C., and was apprenticed to a shoemaker. Little is known of his early years. In 1852 he traveled aboard the steamer John L. Stephens to San Francisco, where he worked as a barber before moving to Sacramento. He quickly became active in northern California's black community and was Sacramento's delegate to the state Colored Conventions of 1855, 1856, and 1857; the 1855 Convention named him to the Executive Board.

Apparently frustrated by the lack of civil rights progress in California, he left the state in late 1857 Over the next decade he traveled throughout Idaho Washington and Oregon spending extended periods in areas around Boise Walla Walla Idaho City ...

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Lou-Ann Crouther

housekeeper, nurse's aide, and writer, was born in New York City, the oldest of the three daughters of James Lee Dickens, a barber and night watchman, and Laura Breckinridge Paige Dickens Potter, a housekeeper and cook. The household also included extended family members, Ethel and Edna Paige (Dorothy's older half-sisters), whose father was deceased. They attended Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem during some of the years in which Adam Clayton Powell Sr. (who was Laura Dickens's first cousin) was the head pastor. The family moved from Harlem to Mamaroneck, New York, when Dorothy was young, on the recommendation of the family doctor who suggested a more favorable location to cure her case of rickets. Her younger sisters, Evelyn and Irene were born in Mamaroneck and all three of the Dickens girls attended local schools in that city The three Dickens sisters shared the ...

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Aissata Sidikou

Nigerien poet, novelist, and trade unionist, was born in Goudoumaria, Diffa, in eastern Niger. Right after primary school, he started to work as a commercial agent at the Societe Generale Anonyme (SGA) in Zinder, which was then the colonial capital of Niger. Soon after joining the company, he noticed the blatant mistreatment and exploitation of black workers by colonial administrators and decided to create a labor union to defend them. In 1952 he was elected general secretary of the SECEP section of Zinder at age 20. Because of his determination to change the exploitative and demeaning environment, and because of his personal dynamism, he was later identified by the French colonial administration as “an extremely dangerous element to be closely monitored.”

Mamani became a committed political activist and joined the Union Démocratique Nigerien UDN Nigerien Democratic Union led by Djibo Bakari another well known leader of the time who was ...

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Lang Baradell

poet, short-story writer, magazine publisher, and entrepreneur, was one of Madison and Ellen Townsend McGirt's four children. Born in Robeson County, North Carolina, he spent his childhood on the family farm and attended Whitun Normal School, a private school for blacks in nearby Lumberton.

While McGirt was still young, his family moved first to another farm in Robeson County and then to Greensboro, North Carolina. There McGirt's father drove a wagon and his mother was a launderer. Young McGirt took part-time jobs while completing his secondary education. In 1892 he entered Greensboro's Bennett College and graduated three years later with a bachelor's degree.

While in Greensboro McGirt began writing poetry and published his first book, Avenging the Maine, a Drunken A. B., and Other Poems (1899 McGirt s apologetic preface explains that he wrote the poems when his body was almost exhausted from manual ...

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Oscar Micheaux was born near Murphysboro, Illinois, the fifth of thirteen children. He went to Chicago at the age of seventeen, where he worked as a shoeshine boy and Pullman porter. In 1904 he used his savings to buy a homestead in South Dakota on land newly opened to settlement. Micheaux's experiences as an African American settler in the rough-and-tumble environment of the South Dakota frontier provided him with material for several of his most important books and movies.

Micheaux's first creative work was the 1913 novel The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pioneer. This novel followed the adventures of a self-made black settler caught between love for a white woman and the perceived demands of his racial identity. A similar plot defined Micheaux's longer novel The Homesteader (1917). Micheaux used the proceeds from The Conquest to start a Sioux City business the Western ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

journalist, was born Theodore Roosevelt Augustus Major Poston, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the youngest of eight children of Ephraim Poston and Mollie Cox, who were both teachers. In the short stories later collected in The Dark Side of Hopkinsville (1991), Poston provided a folksy, sometimes fictionalized account of his small-town southern childhood. Poston's father, for example, was elevated in one story to the position of dean of male students at the Kentucky State Industrial College for Negroes in Frankfort, when he was, in fact, an instructor in that school's preparatory department. Yet the stories accurately reflected the importance of education and intellectual debate in the Poston household. Ted's older siblings also pursued careers in writing and journalism. In 1918 his brothers Robert and Ulysses helped their father establish a newspaper, the Hopkinsville Contender which gave Ted his first experience in journalism Ted s elder brothers ...