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April Taylor

Born Wesley Cook in Philadelphia, Mumia Abu-Jamal was a political activist from adolescence. At the age of fourteen he was arrested and beaten for demonstrating against segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace. He was a founding member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968 and worked on the party's newspaper in California during the summer of 1970.

Returning to Philadelphia, Abu-Jamal became a radio journalist with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and had his own talk show on station WUHY. He was highly critical of Philadelphia's police department and of the city's “law and order” mayor, Frank Rizzo. He provided coverage of the police treatment of MOVE, a Philadelphia black militant group, which further alienated the authorities. Forced to leave his position as a journalist, Abu-Jamal took a job as a taxi driver.

While Abu Jamal was driving his cab on the ...

Article

Sandra Y. Govan

A Los Angeles native and later resident of Vancouver, Washington, Steven Emory Barnes is the third African American author after 1960 to have chosen science fiction and fantasy writing as his primary profession. Barnes established himself through the 1980s as a determined and disciplined writer, one who had followed a cherished childhood dream to become a commercially successful professional writer.

The youngest child of Emory F. Barnes and Eva Mae (Reeves) Barnes, Steven Barnes grew up in Los Angeles. He attended Los Angeles High, Los Angeles City College, and Pepperdine University, Malibu, California (1978–1980 At Pepperdine he majored in communication arts but withdrew from school before completing a degree frustrated because he thought no one on the faculty could teach him about building a career as a professional writer It was not until Barnes made contact with established science fiction writer Ray Bradbury who sent the novice ...

Article

Peter Hudson

While Louise Bennett was not the first writer to use Jamaican dialect, the facility with which she reproduces it in her writing and performances has marked her as a pioneer. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Bennett was the daughter of baker Augustus Cornelius Bennett, who died when she was seven years old, and dressmaker Kerene Robinson. Bennett, known as Miss Lou, studied social work and Jamaican folklore at Friends' College, Highgate, Jamaica. In 1945 she received a British Council Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England.

Bennett began writing in dialect in the late 1930s, inspired by the language she heard spoken by Jamaicans on the streets of Kingston. Soon after she began writing, she staged public performances of her poems. In 1942 her first collection of poetry, Dialect Verses, was published. Starting in 1943 Bennett contributed a weekly column to ...

Article

Shantel Agnew

broadcast journalist and news correspondent. Edward Rudolph Bradley Jr. was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was raised by his mother Gladys Bradley, who taught him the value of hard work. He spent part of each summer in Detroit, Michigan, with his father Edward Bradley Sr., who owned a restaurant. Bradley graduated from Cheyney State College (now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania) in 1964 with a degree in education. During his senior year Bradley was introduced to radio by Georgie Woods, a popular radio DJ, who gave a talk to his class about using community resources to reach out to children. After his graduation, Bradley began teaching and worked for free at Philadelphia's WDAS radio station in the evenings. He offered to cover the riots in 1965 and used a pay phone to call the radio station to report on the event by interviewing community leaders ...

Article

Robert Fay

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ed Bradley, the son of Gladys and Edward R. Bradley, earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1964 from Cheyney State College. He began a career in broadcast journalism in Philadelphia in 1963, reporting for radio station WDAS. In 1967 Bradley moved to WCBS radio in New York City, and joined CBS television news as a reporter in September 1971. From his post in Paris, France he was transferred to Saigon, Vietnam, where he covered the Vietnam War. In 1974 he began reporting from Washington, D.C. In addition to being CBS's White House correspondent, Bradley became a principal correspondent in 1978 on the news program CBS Reports. He anchored the CBS Sunday Night News from November 1976 until May 1981.

Bradley is best known for his investigative reporting and interviewing on CBS's Sunday night news show 60 Minutes which ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

broadcaster and civil rights leader, was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, one of a pair of twins (her sister was Xenobia) to James Brewster, a Baptist minister, and Lillie Elliott Brewster. In addition to helping her husband run the church, Lillie Brewster administered Indian Affairs in the Muskogee area. For her part, Brady began to play piano in the church but one Sunday chose to skip services (and playing) to instead socialize with friends. She would later credit the resulting lecture from her father for fostering in her a respect for the importance of honoring whatever role she was playing and the faith that others would place in her. Brady attended local schools, and planned for a career in education. She matriculated at Tennessee State Agricultural and Industrial College (later Tennessee State University) and graduated with honors in 1952 She then relocated to Chicago Illinois and the ...

Article

Robyn McGee

journalist, radio broadcaster, and founder of Calvin's News Service, was born in Washington,-Arkansas, to Joseph Edward and Hattie Ann (Mitchell). Calvin attended the Rural School in Clow, Arkansas, until the seventh grade. From 1916 to 1920 he attended Shover State Teacher Training College in Arkansas, and from 1920 to 1921 he was enrolled at Townsend Harris Hall, City College in New York City.

In 1922, shortly after leaving City College, Calvin was hired by the labor activist A. Philip Randolph as the associate editor of The Messenger magazine. The Messenger—the third most popular magazine of the Harlem Renaissance, after The Crisis and Opportunity—had been founded in 1917 by Randolph and the economist Chandler Owen to advance the cause of socialism to the black masses. They believed that a socialist society was the only one that would be free from racism. The Messenger contained poetry stories and ...

Article

Evan Mwangi

Moroccan novelist, dramatist, and radio commentator and producer, was born on 15 July 1926 in the French Moroccan town of Mazagan (present-day el-Jadida), near Casablanca. His father was a fairly liberal tea merchant who regarded European education as a vestibule to a better Moroccan society. As a young boy Chraïbi received his early education in a local qurʾanic school, but when the family moved to Casablanca a little later, he joined a French school. In 1946 he left for Paris to study chemical engineering, graduating in 1950. However, he abandoned his graduate studies in neuropsychiatry just before receiving his doctorate. He traveled across Europe and to Israel, settling in France with his first wife, Catherine Chraïbi (née Birckel), and their children.

From 1952 Chraïbi devoted himself to literature and journalism, and in 1954 he began writing for the National Radio and Television Broadcasting System Ranging from epics to comedy ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

filmmaker and screenwriter, was born George Arthur Cundieff in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was one of two children born to John and Christina, who would later appear in one of their son's most well known films. He attended local schools and matriculated at Loyola University in New Orleans, where he studied journalism, but soon changed course and enrolled at the University of Southern California, where he was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the traditionally black college fraternity, and from which he graduated in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Religious Studies.

Somewhere along the line Cundieff was bitten by the performance bug. Upon graduating from USC, he began doing stand-up comedy around Los Angeles, where he met and rubbed elbows with some of the young black comics who themselves were soon starring in feature films and television series, particularly the Wayans brothers He also began picking up ...

Article

Hilary Mac Austin

Suzanne de Passe learned from her mentor, Berry Gordy, that “a business based on principles is more important than a business based on revenue.” She has held true to that motto. Amazingly, in the cutthroat, white-male-dominated world of Hollywood, she has not only survived but succeeded magnificently.

One of the first and still one of the only African American women powerbrokers in the television and film businesses, Suzanne Celeste de Passe grew up middle-class in Harlem. Her parents, both West Indian, were divorced when she was three. Her mother was a schoolteacher and her father worked for Seagrams. He remarried six years after the divorce and is credited with providing de Passe with a strong role model. De Passe attended an elite, integrated private school in Manhattan, the New Lincoln School. While still young, she began modeling clothes designed by DeVera Edwards.

De Passe entered Syracuse University as ...

Article

Claranne Perkins

music executive, television and film producer, and screenwriter, was born in New York, New York. Her father worked for Seagram's and her mother was a schoolteacher. Her paternal grandfather was a physician in Harlem.

Her parents divorced when she was three but managed to maintain a supportive environment for their daughter. She spent the week with her mother and the weekend with her father. He remarried when de Passe was nine, and the three adults formed a supportive alliance that continued to nurture de Passe.

She lived the elite life of prominent black families in New York. She summered on Martha's Vineyard; attended the private, progressive, and integrated New Lincoln School; graduated from Manhattan High School; and entered Syracuse University in 1964 She found the university and its extremely small African American student body not to her liking so transferred to Manhattan Community College to major ...

Article

Samuel A. Hay

actress and writer, was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, the third of four children of teenage parents, Gladys Hightower and Edward Nathaniel Wallace, a Pullman car porter. After Gladys ran off to follow a preacher, the couple divorced in 1924, and Edward married Emma Amelia Benson, a former schoolteacher, who lived in New York City. Emma, whom Ruby called “Mother,” reared the Wallace children in Harlem, New York, where family lessons included picketing white-owned Harlem businesses that refused to hire African Americans.

Ruby graduated from Hunter College High School in 1939 and entered Hunter College, in New York City. Her professional theater career began in 1940 during her sophomore year, when the writer and director Abram Hill cast her in his social satire, On Strivers Row (1940) at the American Negro Theater (ANT), which he had cofounded with Frederick Douglass O'Neal ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

an early New Orleans radio show host, who made his name in rhythm and blues, but devoted most of his life to gospel, was born Vernon Winslow in Dayton, Ohio, the son of Harry and Lenora Winslow; his father was the foreman at a sign company, while his mother stayed home raising seven children. Four brothers and two sisters were all born in Ohio; their father was born in Indiana around 1886, and their mother in Kentucky around 1888.

By 1930, his father was gone, probably deceased, and Lenora Winslow was raising her family in Chicago Illinois The oldest sons Wendell and Vernon were the primary breadwinners working as a porter for a retail store and a messenger at the office of an oil company respectively Somehow carrying this responsibility at the age of nineteen Winslow was able to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta then ...

Article

Pamala S. Deane

radio, stage, and screen actor, was born in Muncie, Indiana, and raised in Hammond and, later, Anderson, Indiana. He was the eldest of nine children born to James Valley Edwards, a laborer, and Anna M. Johnson, a domestic (she would earn a degree in theology in 1949). He graduated from Anderson High School, and after a brief career as a prizefighter, earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Knoxville College in Tennessee in 1938. He was employed for a time in the department of industrial personnel at the Calumet Steel Mill and also worked for two years as a district representative for the War Production Board.

Edwards either enlisted or was drafted (his service records were later lost in a fire) in the U.S. Army sometime around 1944 starting as a private in the all black 92nd Infantry Division of the 370th ...

Article

Jennifer Drake

writer, was born in Toledo, Ohio. Since the beginning of her career Evans has been reticent about revealing personal information, saying that her work speaks for her. It is known that she attended public schools in Toledo and went to the University of Toledo to study fashion design before taking up writing; it is also known that she is divorced and is the mother of two sons. She has resided for most of her adult life in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she has been actively involved in community organizations including the Fall Creek Parkway YMCA, the Marion County Girls Clubs of America, the Indiana Corrections Code Commission, and the Statewide Committee for Penal Reform.

Two childhood events are significant for Evans. In “My Father's Passage,” an essay published in the groundbreaking anthology that she edited, Black Women Writers (1950–1980) (1984), she credits her father and Langston Hughes ...

Article

Michelle K. Massie

civil rights activist and pioneering journalist, was born in White Plains, Virginia, the third eldest of six children of William and Mary Goode. William Goode's father, Thomas, was born a slave and died after the Civil War, a free man. William and Mary moved their family to Homestead Pennsylvania a borough located seven miles from downtown Pittsburgh that was home to one of the world s most productive steel mills Goode s parents relocated from Virginia to Pennsylvania so their children could attend school year round and receive a better education than that offered in the South The colored schools in Virginia closed at harvest time so black children particularly boys could work in the fields The lure of better wages in the steel mills also prompted the family to migrate to the North Goode s father worked as a second helper on an open hearth ...

Article

Klara Szmánko

poet, novelist, film producer, activist, and radio talk show host, was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Sam Greenlee Sr., was a chauffeur, and his mother a singer and dancer. Greenlee, who identifies himself as a second-generation immigrant from the Deep South, has claimed that he made up for his “non-education in Chicago ghetto non-schools at three universities: Wisconsin, Chicago and Thessalonikki, Greece” (Afterword, Blues for an African Princess). Greenlee received his BS degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin in 1952. He studied at the University of Chicago between 1954 and 1957 and at the University of Thessalonikki for one year (1963–1964 Greenlee professes fluency in Greek Indonesian and Malay and a much more limited knowledge of Arabic French and Italian the languages he mastered while working as a foreign service officer in Iraq Pakistan Indonesia and Greece ...

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A member of the post-World War II baby boom, Bryant Gumbel was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and reared in Chicago, Illinois, where his parents, Rhea LeCesne and Richard Dunbar Gumbel, were active in the Democratic Party. After he graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 1970, Gumbel began his career in 1971 writing freelance articles for Black Sports magazine, where he was quickly brought onto the staff. After working as a staff writer for eight months, his journalistic career accelerated as he became editor-in-chief.

After moving into television broadcasting in 1972, Gumbel appeared as a weekend sportscaster at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, California. In 1976 he became the sports director, a position he held until 1980. During this time, the NBC television network also used his talents as a pregame host for football, baseball, and other sports events.

In 1981 the Today ...

Article

Larvester Gaither

civil rights activist and television news analyst, was born to the carpenter and builder Lawrence Guyot Sr. and the domestic worker Margaret Piernas in Pass Christian, Mississippi, on 17 July 1939. Widely known for the important part he played in organizing voter registration drives in Mississippi during the period of the civil rights movement, Guyot extended his activism beyond the sixties into the twenty-first century, as he became a stalwart public figure on the District of Columbia political landscape. Guyot's part in the civil rights movement is less recognized than that of celebrated figures like Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses, Charles E. Cobb Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X, yet he was intricately involved in numerous important historical developments within the movement, and sometimes worked side-by-side with the aforementioned.

Guyot s immersion into the civil ...

Article

G. Robert Hohler

film and television producer, writer and social entrepreneur, born in St. Louis, Missouri, the only son of Julia Veva and Dr. Henry E. Hampton, a prominent physician and surgeon. Hampton's parents were leaders in efforts to change a city that was still racially segregated in the 1940s. They joined the Catholic Church because of its commitment to desegregation and enrolled their children, Henry and his two sisters, Veva and Judi, in Catholic schools. The young Hamptons were the first black students to be enrolled at an all-white suburban parochial school.

The Hamptons created a family environment that emphasized the arts trips to Sunday Symphony were a regular occurrence and intellectual accomplishment Both parents were strong willed and held their children to high standards of personal behavior and academic achievement Henry s older sister Veva went on to Wellesley College attended medical school and became a clinical ...