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Mary T. Henry

bishop, civil rights leader, and educator, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to Rev. Eugene Avery Adams and Charity Nash Adams. He and his three siblings, Avery, Charity, and Lucy Rose, were raised in a spiritual and intellectually stimulating home. His father, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister and social activist, in the 1920s organized the first African American bank in Columbia and the first modern statewide civil rights organization in South Carolina. None of these activities went unnoticed by young John and they helped to define his later focus and commitments. Adams was educated in the segregated Columbia school system and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. His undergraduate work was completed at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he earned an AB degree in History in 1947 After studying at Boston University School of Theology he received a bachelor of ...

Article

Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities is an anthology edited by Darnell Hunt and Ana-Christina Ramon providing a multifaceted analysis of neighborhoods of metropolitan Los Angeles that are either currently or historically predominantly black. The contributions selected by the editors highlight the rich history of accomplishment and survival in Los Angeles's community of color as it continuously confronts challenges to the geographical space of the community; shifts in local and national policy; the changing dynamics around race, social class, gender, and sexual identity; shifts in the opportunity structure for residents; and the realities of environmental and economic risk. The volume is organized into four parts: Space, People, Image, and Action It begins with a look at the historical foundations of the black community of Los Angeles and ends with a more contemporary question of now what for readers via series of action research chapters ...

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Adam Meyer

Little remembered today, Edward Wilmot Blyden was the most important African thinker of the nineteenth century, leading one of the most varied careers of any Black man in that era. Born in Saint Thomas, Blyden came to America in 1850 to attend Rutgers Theological College but was rejected because of his race. He subsequently emigrated to Liberia, grew enamored of African life, and became a staunch supporter of his new homeland. Feeling called upon to undermine misconceptions about “the dark continent” and to encourage Blacks throughout the diaspora to repatriate, Blyden spent the remainder of his life serving this cause in several capacities. As a journalist, Blyden edited the Liberia Herald and founded and edited the Negro and the West African Reporter two of the first Pan African journals As an educator he served as principal of Alexander High School Monrovia Liberia s educational commissioner to Britain and America ...

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Althea E. Rhodes

educator and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Joseph Bonner, a machinist and laborer, and Mary A. Nowell. Educated in the Brookline, Massachusetts, public schools, Bonner applied to Radcliffe College at the urging of her high school adviser and was one of the few African American students accepted for admission. She majored in English and comparative literature and founded the Radcliffe chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, a black sorority. A gifted pianist and student of musical composition, Bonner won the Radcliffe song competition in 1918 and 1922. Bonner also studied German, a language in which she became fluent. During her last year in college she taught English at a Cambridge high school. After graduating with a BA in 1922, she taught at the Bluefield Colored Institute in Bluefield, Virginia, until 1924 and at Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C., from 1924 to 1930 ...

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Dalton Gross and Mary Jean Gross

poet, critic, and anthologist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Smith Braithwaite and Emma DeWolfe. Of his two avocations—American poetry and the status of the American Negro—the second clearly had its origins in an unusual cultural heritage. The Braithwaite family, of mixed black and white descent, was wealthy and held prominent positions in British Guiana. Braithwaite's father studied medicine in London but quit because of apparent mental strain and moved to Boston, where he married DeWolfe, whose family had been in slavery. His father remained aloof from neighbors, educating his children at home. Braithwaite's autobiography mentions no employment held by his father, whose death, when his son was eight years old, left the family destitute.Braithwaite s mother was forced into menial employment and at the age of twelve so was Braithwaite After showing interest in reading he was given a job as a typesetter ...

Article

John C. Gruesser

Born a slave in Maryland, John Edward Bruce grew up in Washington, D.C. Developing an interest in journalism, he worked as a general helper in the office of the Washington correspondent for the New York Times in 1874. By the time Bruce was twenty he was writing for newspapers, using the pen name “Rising Sun”, and in 1879 he started his own paper, the Argus, in Washington, D.C. In 1884 Bruce began writing under the name “Bruce Grit” in the Cleveland Gazette and the New York Age, eventually becoming one of the most widely read and influential African American journalists of his era. In his writings and speeches, Bruce decried mixed-race marriages, denounced Euro-American imperialism, aggressively promoted race pride and solidarity, championed self-help, and advocated the study of black history to combat the anti-Negro rhetoric of the post-Reconstruction period.

Bruce served as a conduit linking people ...

Article

Florence M. Coleman

educator, literary scholar, and biographer of the English novelist Daniel Defoe, was one of five sons born to Helena Burch in Saint George's, Bermuda. Nothing is known of his father. Charles Burch was educated in the elementary and secondary schools of Bermuda. Burch met and married Willa Carter Mayer, who at one time served as a professor of education at Miner Teacher's College in Washington, D.C. She also served as a supervisory official of the public schools of the District of Columbia and authored Clinical Practices in Public School Education (1944). Whether or not they had children is not known.

Burch attended Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, from which he was awarded a BA in 1914. Four years later, he earned a MA from Columbia University. Fifteen years later in 1933 he was awarded a PhD in English from Ohio State University He taught ...

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SallyAnn H. Ferguson

writer. Charles Waddell Chesnutt was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to free parents, Ann Maria Sampson Chesnutt and Andrew Jackson Chesnutt, who in 1856 had fled the slave-holding South for better opportunities in the North. Chesnutt, the oldest of his father's eleven children from two marriages, became the first black author that the American literary establishment took seriously. Greatly influenced by his intellectual mother—a teacher who shortly after Chesnutt's birth moved her family from Cleveland to Oberlin, Ohio, because of the educational opportunities that Oberlin College might provide—and his abolitionist father, the blue-eyed and white-looking Chesnutt from the age of eight grew up black in Fayetteville, North Carolina (the Patesville of his fiction), where his family resettled at the end of the Civil War.

In The Journals of Charles W. Chesnutt, published posthumously in 1993 Chesnutt documents how he read voraciously to nourish a mind so constituted ...

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Frances Richardson Keller

Cooper, Anna Julia Haywood (1858?–27 February 1964), author, educator, and human rights activist, was born, probably on 10 August 1858, in Raleigh, North Carolina, the daughter of Hannah Stanley, a slave. Though her paternity is uncertain, she believed her mother’s master, Dr. Fabius J. Haywood, to have been her father. She later described her ancestry: “The part of my ancestors that did not come over in the Mayflower in 1620 arrived … a year earlier in the fateful Dutch trader that put in at Jamestown in 1619… . I believe that the third source of my individual stream comes … from the vanishing Red Men, which … make[s] me a genuine F.F.A. (First Family of America).”

In 1867 Anna entered the new St Augustine School in Raleigh Because there were then few teachers for African American pupils she became a student teacher at age nine Functioning ...

Article

Elizabeth J. West

Born in New York City to Charity and Boston Crum-mell, Alexander grew up in a family that placed great emphasis on freedom, independence, and education. Although his parents had not experienced the privilege of a formal education, they placed Alexander in the Mulberry Street School and hired additional private tutors for him. When Crummell decided to enter the priesthood, he applied for entry into the theological seminary of the Episcopal Church. According to Crum-mell's own account in his 1894 retirement address, “Shades and Lights”, the admissions board denied his application because its policy was to exclude blacks from positions in the church hierarchy. Crummell was then forced to study privately with sympathetic clergy. These early studies shaped the stoic and methodical style that remained evident throughout his long career as writer and orator. Although he was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1844, it was not until 1847 ...

Article

Marcos Natalí

João da Cruz, named after a Spanish mystic saint, was born in Desterro (present-day Florianópolis), Santa Catarina, Brazil. Because his mother had been freed by the time of his birth, João da Cruz was born free. His father would be granted his freedom ten years later, when Marshal Guilherme Xavier de Sousa participated in the war against Paraguay (1864–1870). Father and son incorporated the marshal's name—Sousa—into their own.

Guilherme de Sousa sponsored João's early education, and his wife Clarinda took it upon herself to educate the young boy from the age of seven. The marshal died in 1870 and left a house and some money to the Cruz e Sousa family. João attended public school beginning in 1869 and a provincial school from 1871 onward, continuously excelling in languages and the recitation of poetry. In 1877 barely sixteen years old Cruz e Sousa began to teach ...

Article

Carol Baker Sapora

anthropologist, writer, and educator, was born in Montgomery, Alabama, the daughter of Georgia Fagain and Moses Stewart. Day was of African American, Indian, and European descent. The Stewart family lived several years in Boston, Massachusetts, where Caroline attended public schools. After her father's death, Caroline and her mother moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, where Georgia Stewart taught school and married John Percy Bond, a life insurance executive. The couple had two children, and Caroline adopted Bond's name. She attended Tuskegee Institute and in 1912 earned a bachelor of arts degree from Atlanta University. She taught English at Alabama State College in Montgomery for a year and then worked for the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) in Montclair, New Jersey. In 1916 she began studying English and classical literature at Radcliffe College of Harvard University, earning a second bachelor's degree in 1919 At Radcliffe she impressed her anthropology professor ...

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Edward W. Rodman

Episcopal bishop, was born Walter Decoster Dennis in Washington, D.C., the son of Walter Decoster Dennis and Helen Louise (maiden name unknown). At an early age the Dennises moved to Petersburg, Virginia, where Walter attended the segregated public schools.

Bishop Dennis began his career at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine as a curate following his graduation from General Theological Seminary in New York City. During his first tenure at the Cathedral, the then Reverend Dennis was noted for his conferences on civil rights, concern for the urban communities of New York City, and his keen interest in constitutional law and history. During this period he became friendly with Thurgood Marshall, at that time a civil rights attorney and a champion of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954; then, during his second tenure, he provided the eulogy at Supreme Court Justice Marshall ...

Article

Jennifer Drake

journalist, poet, playwright, and community arts activist, was born Thomas Covington Dent in New Orleans to Dr. Albert Walter Dent, the president of Dillard University, and Ernestine Jessie Covington Dent, an Oberlin- and Juilliard-educated pianist and a dedicated humanitarian.

Dent pursued his interest in writing and community engagement throughout his formal education. In 1947 he graduated from Gilbert Academy, a college preparatory school for black students in New Orleans. He then matriculated at Morehouse College, where he served as editor in chief of the student newspaper The Maroon Tiger and graduated with a BA in Political Science in 1952. Until 1956 he completed doctoral coursework at Syracuse University's School of International Studies, leaving without completing the degree, and in 1974 he earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Dent also served in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1959.

In an interview ...

Article

Arnold Rampersad

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 1868. He was born into a small community of blacks who had settled in the region since at least the Revolutionary War, in which an ancestor had fought. His mother, Mary Sylvina Burghardt, married a restless young visitor to the region, Alfred Du Bois, who disappeared soon after the birth of his son. Du Bois grew up a thorough New Englander, as he recalled, a member of the Congregational Church and a star student in the local schools, where he was encouraged to excel.

In 1885 he left Great Barrington for Nashville Tennessee to enter Fisk University The racism of the South appalled him No one but a Negro going into the South without previous experience of color caste can have any conception of its barbarism Nevertheless he enjoyed life at Fisk from which ...

Article

Jon-Christian Suggs and Dale Edwyna Smith

[This article contains three subentries, on Du Bois's life, on his historical writing, and on his literary writing.]

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William Jordan

(1868–1963), African-American scholar, polemicist, activist, and intellectual. Born and reared in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois graduated from Fisk University in 1888. Enrolling as a junior at Harvard, he remained to earn a Ph.D. in history in 1895, with two years of study (1892–1894) at the University of Berlin. In 1896, Harvard published his dissertation on the suppression of the African slave trade. That same year, during a brief teaching stint at Wilberforce University in Ohio, he married a student, Nina Gomer; they had two children. A fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania (1896–1897) resulted in a pathbreaking sociological study, The Philadelphia Negro (1899). From 1897 to 1910, he taught sociology at Atlanta University.

At this time, most southern blacks could not vote and faced racial segregation in public facilities; scores were lynched each year. Before 1900 ...

Article

Jonathan Edwards

In 1893 the playwright George Bernard Shaw described Alexandre Dumas père (senior) as “a summit of art,” comparing him to Mozart: “you get nothing above Dumas on his own mountain … if you pass him you come down on the other side instead of getting higher.” Dumas's literary work is striking in its breadth and originality, and accessible to all lovers of adventure regardless of their social or educational background. In theater, Dumas created two new genres, the prose historical drama and the drame moderne, and, although dated today, his plays enjoyed unprecedented success in their time. His greatest novels, rich in passionate characters, lively dialogue, and gripping plots, have lasting appeal, and many, such as Les Trois Mousquetaires (The Three Musketeers), have become household names.

The story of how young Dumas a provincial light skinned boy whose tightly curled hair revealed his African ancestry rose to become the ...

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Daniel Donaghy

writer Dunbar was the first African American writer to earn an international audience Born in Dayton Ohio to Matilda and Joshua Dunbar both former slaves Dunbar created a vast body of creative work including twelve volumes of poems four novels four collections of stories and plays and dozens of essays and songs even though he was often in poor health and died at the age of thirty three He was praised during his lifetime as the greatest black poet since Russia s Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin and France s Alexandre Dumas Dunbar s work particularly his poetry received high praise from the most influential critics and writers of his generation and inspired many Harlem Renaissance writers During the second half of the twentieth century however many critics attacked his work for what they saw as its sentimental and stereotypical representations of plantation slave life and of African Americans during the ...

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R. Baxter Miller

scholar and educator, was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of James Stanley Dykes and Martha Ann Howard. Eva graduated from M Street High (later Paul Laurence Dunbar High School) in 1910. As valedictorian of her class, she won a $10 scholarship from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to attend Howard University, where in 1914 she graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English. After a year of teaching Latin and English at the now defunct Walden University in Nashville, Tennessee, and for another year elsewhere, she was urged by James Howard, a physician and uncle on her mother's side, to enter Radcliffe College in 1916. Subsequently, she earned a second BA in English, magna cum laude, in 1917. Elected Phi Beta Kappa, she received an MA in English in 1918 and a PhD in English philology in 1921 Her dissertation was titled ...