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Richard M. Mizelle and Keith Wailoo

mathematician and professor, was born David Harold Blackwell in Centralia, Illinois, the oldest of four children, to Grover Blackwell, a locomotive mechanic for the Illinois Central Railroad, and Mabel Johnson. Although much of Blackwell's hometown was segregated, he attended an integrated elementary school. He first became interested in mathematics in high school where, although not particularly interested in algebra or trigonometry, he immediately took an interest in geometry—the scientific study of the properties and relations of lines, surfaces, and solids in space. Later in his life Blackwell credited his high school geometry instructor for showing him the beauty and the usefulness of mathematics. He joined his high school's mathematics club where his instructor pushed students to submit solutions to the School Science and Mathematics Journal which published one of Blackwell s solutions It was with geometry that Blackwell first began to apply mathematical methods and formulas to ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Willa Brown was born in Glasgow, Kentucky, to Reverend Eric and Hallie Mae Carpenter Brown. Willa lived briefly in Indianapolis, Indiana, but she spent most of her childhood in Terre Haute, where she graduated from Sarah Scott Junior High School in 1920 and from Wiley High School in 1923.

Brown received her B.S. degree in business from Indiana State Teachers College in 1927. After graduating, she taught public school in Gary, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois, where she developed an interest in aviation.

In 1935 Brown received a master mechanics certificate from the Aeronautical University in Chicago, and three years later received a private pilot's license by passing her exam with a nearly flawless score of 96 percent. In 1937 she earned an M.B.A. degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and in 1940 she earned a Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) ground school instructor's rating.

After ...

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Robert G. McGuire

Hugh M. Browne was born in Washington, D.C., in June 1851 to John Browne and Elizabeth Wormley. He had family connections among the most prominent free African Americans in Washington. His maternal aunt Mary Wormley established a school for free African Americans in 1832, and other members of the Wormley family owned a boardinghouse patronized by the Washington political elite. His paternal aunt Mary Browne Syphax was married to William Syphax, who had a position in the office of the secretary of the interior and who was a member of the board of trustees of the black public schools of Washington. Browne was educated in the schools of Washington, D.C. He received his B.A. degree from Howard University in 1875 and his M.A. degree in 1878. In 1878 he also received a B D degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and was ordained in the ...

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Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, dentist, and politician, was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Gary W. Cable, a teacher and postal worker, and Mary Ellen Montgomery Cable, a public school administrator and civil rights activist. In 1894 the family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Cable attended public school and graduated from integrated Shortridge High School in 1908. He moved on to the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for the next school year and enrolled at Harvard University in 1909.

Cable had not participated in organized athletics in high school, but he tried out for the freshman track team at Harvard and caught the eye of Coach Pat Quinn. With Quinn's guidance, Cable developed rapidly. In the annual Harvard-Yale freshman meet, he won the hammer throw and he also performed well in the 220-yard hurdles and the broad jump (now the long jump) in intramural competitions.

He easily made ...

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Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Nathaniel Calloway was a man of many talents. He started his career as a chemist, graduating from Iowa State University (then College) in 1930 and earning his Ph.D. in 1933. After publishing influential research and teaching at both Tuskegee Institute and Fisk University, Calloway decided to enter medical school. In 1940 he enrolled at the University of Chicago, but, denied the opportunity to treat white patients, he transferred to the University of Illinois, from which he received his M.D. in 1943.

After World War II (1939–1945)—during which he conducted research on recuperation theories—Calloway worked at Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, ultimately becoming its director. In 1949 he founded an all-black group practice, and throughout the next fifteen years he combined his medical work with civil rights activism. From 1955 to 1960 Calloway served as president of the Chicago ...

Article

Robert Fay

William Montague Cobb was born in Washington, D.C., the son of William Elmer and Alexzine Montague Cobb. After earning an A.B. degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts in 1925, Cobb entered Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., graduating in 1929. He then earned a Ph.D. degree in anatomy and physical anthropology from Western Reserve University in Ohio in 1932. Cobb taught at Howard University from 1932 to 1973, chairing the Department of Anatomy from 1947 to 1969. In 1969 he was awarded Howard's first distinguished professorship.

Cobb was an authority on physical anthropology and published over 600 related articles in professional journals. He contributed to E. V. Cowdry's Problems of Aging: Biological and Medical Aspects, Gray's Anatomy, Henry's Anatomy, and Cunningham's Manual of Practical Anatomy Cobb also dispelled myths about African American biological inferiority in the ...

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Elizabeth Hadley Freydberg

Born in Atlanta, Texas Elizabeth Coleman was the twelfth of thirteen children Her mother Susan Coleman was African American Her father George Coleman was three quarters Choctaw Indian and one quarter African While Bessie was still a toddler the Coleman family moved to Waxahachie Texas an agricultural and trade center that produced cotton grain and cattle The town was about thirty miles south of Dallas and was recognized as the cotton capital of the West There the Coleman family made a living from picking cotton George Coleman built a three room house on a quarter acre of land but by the time Bessie was seven years old he had returned to Choctaw country in Oklahoma Susan Coleman continued to raise nine children alone as she also continued to harvest in the fields pick cotton and do domestic work to make ends meet When the children became old enough usually ...

Article

Paul A. Frisch

, activist, inventor, and entrepreneur, was born in Virginia. It is unknown whether he was born free or enslaved. Little information about his early life and education is available. He moved to New York City and in 1873 married Henrietta (maiden name unknown), a New Yorker. The couple had no children. Ferrell reported his occupation as engineer, a term commonly used in this era for machinist, stationary engineer, or boiler tender.

During the 1880s Ferrell joined the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor, the largest labor union in nineteenth-century America. After a major growth spurt in 1885–1886 the organization counted over 600 000 members The Knights were an inclusive labor organization that enrolled employers and workers excluding only lawyers bankers and liquor peddlers and unlike most such organizations of the period the Knights accepted African American members Ferrell belonged to District Assembly 49 a large politicized union that ...

Article

Leila Kamali

Historian, editor, and political activist born on 10 December 1921 near Johannesburg, the child of Latvian Jews. Hirson was educated at Hebrew school in Johannesburg, and studied mathematics at the University of Witwatersrand, where he later worked as a physicist. In 1940 he joined the left‐wing Hashomer Hatzair, subsequently becoming a member of various Trotskyist groups. Between 1944 and 1946 he was a political organizer for the Workers' International League.

Hirson participated in setting up black trade unions, in extremely difficult conditions created by the Suppression of Communism Act. He became involved in the Non‐European Unity Movement, and in the late 1950s joined the Congress of Democrats, the white arm of the ANC‐led Congress Alliance.

After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 Hirson and his colleagues highly critical of the Congress Alliance s leadership and policies organized the National Committee for Liberation which advocated sabotage as a substitute for peaceful ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Nigerian political activist and journalist, was born Herbert Samuel Heelas Macaulay on 14 November 1864 in Lagos, Nigeria. He was the seventh child of Thomas Babington Macaulay, founder and principal of the Church Missionary Society Grammar School in Lagos, and Abigail Crowther Macaulay, daughter of the first Anglican bishop in West Africa, Samuel Ajayi Crowther. Macaulay received an outstanding primary and secondary education thanks to his affluent family, and he attended the renowned St. Paul’s school in Breadfruit. In 1881 he joined the Nigerian colonial administration as a clerk. He served in this capacity for the next nine years, and his intelligence and loyalty impressed his British superiors. Governor of Nigeria Alfred Moloney supported Macaulay’s efforts to further his education in England, and Macaulay received a scholarship to study engineering in Plymouth. From 1890 to 1893 the young Nigerian excelled in school and developed a lifelong interest in Western ...

Article

Influential political activist and founder member of the Nigerian National Democratic Party. The son of distinguished African missionaries, Macaulay was educated at the Church Missionary Society grammar school founded by his father. After completing his education in 1881, he entered the civil service. In 1890 he travelled to England, where he became the first Nigerian to qualify as a civil engineer. On his return to Lagos, he was appointed as a surveyor but soon became dissatisfied with the system, which discriminated against African civil servants. In 1898 he left the civil service to go into private practice as a licensed surveyor and architect but his business never proved to be a success In financial difficulties Macaulay misappropriated funds and was sentenced to two years imprisonment effectively barring him from public office Nevertheless he grew to be an influential figure in Nigerian politics through his staunch editorials for the ...

Article

Olivia A. Scriven

mathematician, chemist, and education advocate, was born Shirley Mathis in the small and racially segregated town of Bainbridge, Georgia, during the Great Depression. Her parents' names and occupations are unknown. By all accounts, McBay was a child prodigy who was often teased because she liked to study, especially mathematics. But McBay's mother supported her daughter's interest in mathematics and encouraged her to continue to work hard if she wanted to be successful. McBay would follow that principle throughout her professional career.

McBay found her mother's own hard work a source of inspiration and looked up to her as a role model. McBay's other role models were her teachers. One teacher in particular, Hattie Mae Mann recognized early that McBay had potential and challenged her to excel Yet despite the support and involvement of her community McBay learned early about the separation between black and white which ...

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Robert "Bob" Davis

one of the four North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University freshmen who initiated the sit-in movement in Greensboro, North Carolina, was born Franklin Eugene McCain in Union County, North Carolina, the son of Warner and Mattie McCain. McCain grew up in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Eastern High School in 1959. After graduating, he returned to his native North Carolina to attend college at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T). During his time as an undergraduate student at A&T, McCain roomed with David Richmond and lived around the corner from Ezell Blair Jr. and Joseph McNeil on the second floor of Scott Hall. These four men challenged public accommodation customs and laws in North Carolina on 1 February 1960 launching a sit in movement that became an important catalyst for much of the modern civil rights movement They decided to sit at an all ...

Article

Aaron Myers

The son of national deputy Antônio Pereira Rebouças, André Rebouças was born in Cachoeira, Bahia. After studying math and engineering at Rio De Janeiro's military school, he traveled and studied in Europe. Upon returning to Brazil, he became an adviser and strategist during the Paraguayan War (1864–1870). Rebouças then supervised several engineering projects, including the construction of railroads and docks in Rio de Janeiro. Rebouças's engineering achievements won him the respect of the royal family. He later became a professor of botany and math at the city's Polytechnic School, where he established an abolitionist society in 1883.

Rebouças conducted most of his abolitionist work behind the scenes, rarely addressing audiences. He organized abolitionist meetings and associations, and inspired readers with his antislavery literature and propaganda. Rebouças cofounded the Sociedade brasileira contra a escravidão (Brazilian Antislavery Society) in Rio de Janeiro in 1880 ...

Article

Meghan Elisabeth Healy

South African activist and botanist, was born Edward Rudolph Roux in 1903 in the Transvaal town of Pietersburg (now known as Polokwane). His father, Phillip Roux, was a pharmacist, and his mother, Edith Wilson Roux, was a nurse who had come to South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. His father was an outspoken iconoclast: Despite his conservative Afrikaner upbringing, he was an atheist, socialist, and Anglophile who fought with the British in the Anglo-Boer War and dismissed Afrikaans as a peasant dialect. Eddie Roux was named after King Edward VII and his grandfather Eduard Roux.

In 1904, Roux moved with his parents to Johannesburg, where his father opened a pharmacy in the Bezuidenhout Valley and the family grew to include three more sons and two daughters. His father was active in the South African Labor Party and International Socialist League politics, and the 1913 miners strikes culminated in ...

Article

J. Todd Moye

aviation pioneer, was born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of Edward Alexander Spencer, a postman and real estate developer, and Anne Bethel (Scales) Spencer, a teacher, librarian, and writer. Anne Spencer was an important, if now little known, poet and editor associated with the Harlem Renaissance and the NAACP. Her Lynchburg home and legendary garden became a way station for eminent blacks traveling between the North and the Deep South at a time when hotel facilities for African Americans were few and far between. From a young age Chauncey Spencer was used to rubbing elbows with celebrities. The likes of W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Adam Clayton Powell Sr. were guests in the Spencer home during his youth. “Of all of them, I think I was most impressed by Paul ...