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R. Conrad Barrett

Numidian author and orator was born a citizen of Rome in c 125 CE in the town of Madauros in the province of Africa an area that had become Roman territory in 146 BCE His home town was 140 miles 225 kilo meters southwest of ancient Carthage the site of the modern city of Tunis Perhaps as a child Apuleius learned first the native Berber dialect certainly he heard Greek in his home and outside it as well as the language of all government Latin This language became Apuleius s major one he had it seems a solid but not equal facility in Greek After schooling in Carthage the major city of the province Apuleius traveled to Athens Greece for further study where he studied rhetoric and philosophy to learn more especially about the thought of Plato He then went to Rome for more education in rhetoric all of it ...

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Brittney L. Yancy

actress, writer, philanthropist, activist. Ruby Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents, Marshall and Emma Wallace, worked as a Pullman porter and a schoolteacher, respectively. As a baby, Ruby along with her family moved to Harlem at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. Ruby's parents supplemented her education with exposure to the arts. Ruby married Frankie Dee Brown, a promoter for Schenley Distiller's Corporation. Frankie dropped his surname because Ruby preferred the name Dee. They divorced in 1945. Ruby began acting in the 1940s through an apprenticeship with the American Negro Theatre—which included Hilda Simms, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, and her future husband, Ossie Davis. Dee's first stage performance was in On Strivers Row in 1940 Dee acted in a series of plays and made her Broadway debut at the Cort Theater in a ...

Article

Gregory S. Jackson

Characterized for much of her professional life as a woman with a double identity, as Broadway's grande dame of American dance and as a pioneering dance anthropologist of world renown, Katherine Dunham has influenced generations with her wide array of talent. Born in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, she attended the University of Chicago, where she studied anthropology and first began to pursue the study of dance with professional aspirations. During the Great Depression Dunham opened a series of dance schools, all of which closed prematurely for financial reasons but not before they earned Dunham the attention and company of such noted individuals as Arna Bontemps, Langston Hughes, Horace Mann, Sterling North, Charles Sebree, and Charles White. As the recipient of a 1935 Julius Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship for the study of anthropology and dance traditions in the Caribbean Dunham united her work in anthropology with ...

Article

Zachery R. Williams

African Americanactor, director, writer, and producer. Woodie King Jr. was born in Baldwin Springs, Alabama. He moved with his mother to Detroit after his parents separated. His mother supported the family, working as a domestic. King attended Cass Technical High School, cultivating an early interest in theater. He was awarded a scholarship that afforded him the opportunity to attend the Will-o-Way Apprentice Theatre School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1961. From 1959 to 1962 King began his career as a drama critic for the Detroit Tribune, a predominantly African American newspaper.

In 1961 he undertook graduate studies at Wayne State University in Detroit Disenchanted with the lack of significant roles afforded African American actors King and some fellow students created a theater called Concept East out of an abandoned bar There he directed and starred ...

Article

Steven R. Carter

Born in Mobile, Alabama, Woodie King, Jr., moved to Detroit with his parents, Woodie and Ruby King, when he was five. From 1955 to 1968 to help out his family, which was supported by his mother's housework, King worked as a model for church fans and calendars. He attended Michigan's Will-O-Way School of the Theatre on scholarship from 1958 to 1962, studying every element of the theater while immersing himself in black literature. In 1959, he married casting agent Willie Mae Washington with whom he would have three children. From 1959 to 1962, King wrote drama criticism for the Detroit Tribune.

Both at Will-O-Way and at Wayne State University and the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts, where he did postgraduate study in theater, King lamented the lack of acting opportunities for blacks and, with Ron Milner cofounded the Concept East Theatre As its manager ...

Article

Nancy Kang

poet, playwright, essayist, and activist, was born Marvin Ellis Jackmon in Fowler, California, near the city of Fresno. He has also used such Arabic names as El Muhajir, Nazzam al Fitnah, Nazzam al Sudan, and Imam Maalik El Muhajir. He was born to Marian Murrill Jackmon, a real estate broker, and Owendell Jackmon, a real estate agent turned florist and also publisher of the Fresno Voice, the first black newspaper of California's Central Valley. Marvin Jackmon attended a series of elementary schools in West Fresno and Oakland. After graduating from Edison High School he enrolled at Oakland City College (now Merritt College), where he met Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founders of the revolutionary Black Panther Party Having earned an associate s degree he then attended San Francisco State College now San Francisco State University where he ...

Article

Michael E. Greene

Marvin Ellis Jackmon was born on 29 May 1944 in Fowler, California. He attended high school in Fresno and received a BA and MA in English from San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University). The mid-1960s were formative years for Jackmon. He became involved in theater, founded his own press, published several plays and volumes of poetry, and became increasingly alienated because of racism and the Vietnam War. Under the influence of Elijah Muhammad, he became a Black Muslim and has published since then under the names El Muhajir and Marvin X. He has also used the name Nazzam al Fitnah Muhajir.

Marvin X and Ed Bullins founded the Black Arts/West Theatre in San Francisco in 1966, and several of his plays were staged during that period in San Francisco, Oakland, New York, and by local companies across the United States. His one-act play Flowers ...

Article

Derek A. Williams

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Ron Milner graduated from Detroit's Northeastern High School. He attended Highland Park Junior College, Detroit Institute of Technology, and Columbia University in New York. In the early 1960s, Milner received two prestigious literary grants, the John Hay Whitney Fellowship (1962) and a Rockefeller Fellowship (1965), to work on a novel, The Life of the Brothers Brown. Milner is one of the most significant figures to emerge from the Black Arts movement. He is known affectionately as the “people's playwright”for his ongoing commitment to using Black theater for the advancement of Black people. Milner has taught widely and was writer in residence at Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) from 1966 to 1967, where his friendship with Langston Hughes, who urged him to use a personal voice in his writing, matured.

A “born writer,”Milner is a prolific playwright His first ...

Article

Firouzeh Dianat

journalist, television host, producer, writer, and editor, was born Ponchitta Marie Ann Vincent Pierce in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Alfred Leonard Pierce, a plasterer and contractor, and Nora Vincent Pierce, a teacher. She was educated through elementary school in New Orleans. From her mother Pierce inherited “a desire to reach out to people and work to improve the life of others” (Smith, 526). Her father imparted to her a “healthy dose of realism in terms of how to conduct a business” (Smith, 526). Through four years of schooling in a Catholic all-girl high school in Los Angeles, California, Pierce fell in love with books and writing. As a University of Southern California student, Pierce wrote for the student newspaper. She also spent a summer of studying at England's Cambridge University in 1962 She received a BA degree cum laude in Journalism ...

Article

Joan F. McCarty

musician, social activist, songtalker, and scholar, was born Bernice Johnson in Albany, Georgia, the daughter of a Baptist minister, the Reverend Jessie Johnson, and a homemaker, Beatrice Johnson. Johnson was steeped in the traditions and culture of the southwestern Georgia community surrounding Mt. Early Baptist Church. Her home church did not have a piano for many years, so she honed her a cappella vocal skills in the school and church choir.

After graduating from high school, she auditioned for the music program at Albany State College and was accepted, enrolling in 1959 as music major. While in college, she served as the secretary of the youth division of the NAACP and became more deeply drawn into the civil rights struggle. Reagon began to attend meetings of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the city and eventually formed a bond with Cordell Reagon ...

Article

Christine Rauchfuss Gray

playwright, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, the only child of Willis Wilder, a laborer, and Agnes Ann Harper. In 1898, when Richardson was nine years old, a white mob burned down the newspaper offices of a Wilmington newspaperman named Alexander Manly and precipitated a coup d'état in North Carolina's largest city, which resulted in the deaths of at least sixteen blacks. Many African Americans left Wilmington in the months that followed, among them Richardson and his family, who moved to Washington, D.C., because of the riots and the threats made on his father's life. Richardson would live in Washington until his death in 1977.

After completing elementary school, Richardson attended the M Street School (later Dunbar High School) from 1906 until 1910. At the school, Richardson had contact with people who would later be important in his development as a dramatist. Carter G ...

Article

Elliott S. Hurwitt

music educator and performer, was born Cary Isabele Taliaferro in Abingdon, Virginia, the daughter of Granville L. Taliaferro and Josephine Outlaw Taliaferro. She was educated in Philadelphia public schools, graduating from Girls Commercial High School, then earned a teaching certificate from the New England Conservatory of Music (Boston). Her early professional experience remains obscure. In 1912 she joined a famous vaudeville act, the Musical Spillers, eventually marrying its leader, William Newmeyer Spiller. The act was already a vaudeville favorite by this time, and soon she was touring with them throughout the Americas. Originally a trio, the act stabilized as a sextet, evenly divided between men and women, shortly before she joined.

Isabele Taliaferro Spiller remained with the Musical Spillers from 1912 to 1925 playing multiple instruments and acting as the primary teacher of new members of the band The Spillers were best known as a saxophone ...