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Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán was born and received his primary and secondary schooling in Veracruz, where there was a strong African influence, before studying medicine in Mexico City. In the 1920s and 1930s intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos undertook pioneering studies of Indians in Mexico, whose culture and history had largely been viewed with disdain until then. The studies resurrected a degree of interest in and dignity for Indian heritage. Although Vasconcelos argued that much of indigenous culture should be subsumed in a larger Mexican culture, Aguirre Beltrán believed that indigenous cultures were worthy of study for their own sake. After graduating from the University of Mexico with a medical degree, Aguirre Beltrán returned to Veracruz, where he held a post in public health that further sparked his interest in Indian ethnicity and history. In 1940 he published two studies on the ethnohistory of colonial and precolonial Indians in ...

Article

Mayda Grano de Oro

José Celso Barbosa played a key role in the politics of the Spanish-American War, denouncing the Creoles' political aspirations. At the same time, his involvement reflected the complexities and contradictions in race issues confronted by black Puerto Ricans at the time. Barbosa's achievements were not typical of blacks in Puerto Rico at the turn of the century. He represented the “self-made man” that came from humble origins. He had the opportunity to study at the only institution of secondary education on the island, thanks to the determination of his aunt. He completed his studies in the Jesuit seminary before going to the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, where he graduated in 1880. His experience in the United States made him an admirer of republican ideals for social equality and justice.

When Barbosa returned to Puerto Rico he started his medical practice and became a member ...

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Dorsia Smith Silva

physician, politician, and delegate to the U.S. Congress, was born Donna Marie Christian in Teaneck, New Jersey, to Virginia Sterling Christian and retired Chief District Court Judge Almeric L. Christian, from St. Croix. Christian-Christensen's parents wanted their daughter to understand her cultural connections to the Virgin Islands, so she spent part of her adolescence in St. Croix. This time in St. Croix had a profound influence on Christian-Christensen's career and commitment to helping others.

Christian-Christensen returned to the United States to graduate from St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where she earned a B.S. degree in 1966. After reading a United Negro College Fund booklet about the lack of minorities in health care, she decided to enter the medical field. She attended George Washington University Medical School and earned an M.D. degree in 1970. From 1970 to 1971 Christian Christensen worked an as ...

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David Killingray

Medical doctor and Pan‐Africanist.

Born in Barbados, Clarke won an island scholarship and came to London in 1914 to study medicine. He graduated from Cambridge in 1918 and qualified as a surgeon two years later. He set up a medical practice in Southwark, south‐east London, where he worked until 1965.

Clarke was a founder member of the League of Coloured Peoples (LCP) in 1931 and active in encouraging and also providing generous financial support for various Pan‐African causes. Clarke was non‐partisan and enjoyed good relations with the left and right Pan‐African factions in the 1930s–1940s, and this enabled him to act as a mediator in planning for the Conference on the African Peoples, Democracy, and World Peace held in London in July 1939 Many Caribbean and African visitors to Britain stayed at Clarke s home in Barnet which was also used for some LCP social functions for ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

physician and diplomat, was born near Bennettsville, South Carolina, to parents whose names are not recorded, and who may have been slaves or freed slaves. At an early age, he moved with his parents to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he was educated in that city's public schools.

A gifted student, Crossland later graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, before completing his medical studies at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He practiced medicine and surgery for twelve years in both Missouri and Kingstree, South Carolina, where he also served for a brief period as assistant postmaster. He also served as city physician for several years in St. Joseph.

Crossland also became active in Republican Party politics in Missouri, and by 1901 had become a member at large of that state s Republican central committee He was also elected president of the Negro Republican State League As ...

Article

Richard Watts

Born into a lower-middle class Haitian family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, François Duvalier attended local primary schools and, later, the Lycée Pétion, where he was taught by his political mentor, Dumarsais Estimé. Duvalier subsequently attended medical school at the national university, earning a degree in 1934. He then turned to civil service, working for the Haitian government for the next ten years. During this time Duvalier became part of a collective known as the Griots, a group of intellectuals, inspired by the Négritude movement, who sought to glorify Haiti's African heritage.

In Le problème des classes à travers l'histoire d'Haïti (1946), Duvalier and Lorimer Denis rejected a Marxist analysis of class and claimed that the historical supremacy of the mulatto (of African and European descent) elite in Haiti was an ethnic rather than an economic phenomenon Many historians deem this work a vulgarization of the ...

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Charles Rosenberg

a singer who lived for over thirty years in Russia, both under Tsar Nicholas and during the first decades of the Soviet Union, was born in Augusta, Georgia, according to her 1901 passport application. Some accounts give her year of birth as 1870. Multiple passport applications give 1875. Census records suggest she may have been the daughter of John and Ann Harris, who in 1880 were illiterate tenant farmers in Carnesville, Franklin County, northwest of Augusta. The subsequent history of her older brothers, Andrew J. and Henry Harris, and younger sister Lulu, are unknown.

In 1892Harris married Joseph B. Harris (no relation), moving with him to Brooklyn, where she worked as a domestic and directed a Baptist church choir. She went to Europe in May 1901 as a member of the “Louisiana Amazon Guards,” a singing group assembled by the German promoter Paule ...

Article

Laura M. Calkins

homeopathic physician, was born in Chatham, a hub of fugitive and free-black settlement in extreme southwestern Ontario, then known as Canada West. Little is known about Jones's early life. Her parents were James Monroe Jones and Emily Jones. Her father came from a family of manumitted slaves in North Carolina, and his father, James Madison Jones, had obtained the family's freedom in 1843 and moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where he graduated from Oberlin College with an AB degree in 1849; at least one of his brothers also graduated from Oberlin.

Sophia Jones had three sisters, Anna Holland Jones, Emma (or Emily) Jones, and Frederica Florence Jones, and two brothers, George and James These children probably all attended one of the Chatham area s private schools for black students and they excelled in their studies As a young woman Sophia attended the Wilberforce Educational ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

physician and diplomat, was born in Monticello, Florida, the son of James and Emily Livingston. After the Civil War, his family moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where Livingston and his older sisters, Julia and Minerva, attended public schools. He became a schoolteacher in Jacksonville while attending that city's Cookman Institute, later merged into Bethune-Cookman University in Orlando. After his graduation from Cookman in 1882, he was recommended by Florida Republican leaders for appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Livingston's quest was detailed by many U.S. newspapers that year, including a memorable sketch in the New York Sun (3 Sept. 1882) describing the youth as “conceded to have a bright, intelligent face and a fine physique. If he should prove qualified in his studies, his fellow cadets must not destroy him.” Livingston's unexpected nomination surprised the Sun which recalled the recent expulsion ...

Article

Bridget Brereton

physician and pharmacologist, was born in Cocoye Village, Trinidad, to Lewis Albert Maloney, a building contractor and grocery chain operator, and Estelle Evetta (Bonas) Maloney, a needlepoint teacher to young women. Maloney has the distinction of being the first African American professor of pharmacology in the nation and the second person of African descent to earn both a medical degree and a doctorate of philosophy in the United States.

Arnold began his career planning to become a druggist in Trinidad. He studied at Naparima College in Trinidad, a school affiliated with Cambridge University in England, where he received the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1909 Maloney had expectations of becoming a druggist in Trinadad however after receiving an unexpected letter from his uncle suggesting greater opportunities existed in the United States he migrated to New York to study medicine During this same year while attending Lincoln ...

Article

Charles Duncan O'Neale was the initial leader of the Democratic League (DL), the first political party in Barbados, founded in 1924.

See also Barbados.

Article

Leyla Keough

At a time when prejudice and even violence against blacks was common in Great Britain, David Thomas pitt spoke out for the unrepresented black immigrant community. In his obituary for Pitt in the Guardian in 1994, black British journalist Mike Phillips wrote: “At that point, Dr. Pitt was the only black person who figured in the public and political life of the country; and as such, if only by default, when he spoke, he spoke for us.”

Born on the island of Grenada in the West Indies, David Pitt attended Grenada Boys' Secondary school and was raised a devout Roman Catholic. In 1932 he won Grenada's only overseas scholarship to attend the prestigious medical school at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. After graduating with honors, he returned to the West Indies in 1938 and practiced medicine in Saint Vincent and Trinidad There he met and ...

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Liliana Obregón

Though harassed throughout her life because she was a black woman working in a male-dominated profession, Evangelina Rodríguez bravely used her scientific knowledge and feminist principles to advocate for social health care as well as equality and education for poor Dominicans, especially women and children.

Ana Evangelina Rodríguez Perozo was born in 1879 as the illegitimate child of Ramón Rodríguez and Felipa Perozo, a poor, illiterate woman who worked as a servant in the homes of wealthy Dominicans. Ramón Rodríguez abandoned the family, and Evangelina's mother died when Evangelina was six years old. The young girl's maternal grandmother, Tomasina, took over the child's care and moved with her to the city of San Pedro de Macorís.

There the family met the poet Rafael Deligne (1863–1902 who was impressed with Evangelina s intelligence and urged Tomasina to send her granddaughter to school Deligne thus became a father figure ...

Article

Joy Elizondo

The child of a washerwoman and a musician, José Manuel Valdés was born in Lima, Peru's capital city, when nearly half its population was black. Though his parents could not afford to educate him, his godparents and mother's employers stepped in, seeing to his early education at a prominent religious school. He would later become the first black writer to publish in Peru, both as a doctor and as a poet, as early as 1791.

After completing school, Valdés yearned to become a priest, but during the colonial period blacks were denied access to the priesthood by the Catholic Church, and he turned instead to medicine. He could have prospered as a romancista, a type of medical practitioner that required little training and was restricted to “external remedies.” In 1788 he took the more challenging route and pursued the title of latinista surgeon for ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

physician and diplomat, was born in Cumberland County, North Carolina, one of seven children of free black parents Peter Williams, a successful lumberman, and Flora Ann McKay, who taught her son to read at an early age. After the family moved to nearby Harnett County in 1867, his father engaged an educated white widow to tutor his children, in exchange for working on her farm. According to one account, within two years John Williams had “mastered Webster's blue back speller and other books”; by age sixteen, the avid reader was well versed in memoirs, history, and biographies (Powell, p. 210).

As a teenager, John entered the state normal training school at Fayetteville (now Fayetteville State University), where he graduated at the top of his class in 1880 Williams then became a schoolteacher holding teaching positions near his home in Lillington and in a number of ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

physician and career diplomat, was born in Oldtown, Philips County, Arkansas, one of six children of Robert Milton and Clementina Yerby. As a youth, Yerby moved to Memphis, Tennessee, with his widowed mother and his one surviving brother. There he attended public schools and the city's Le Moyne Normal and Commercial Institute (now Le Moyne-Owen College) before entering Nashville's Baptist-affiliated Roger Williams University, where he received his bachelor's degree.

Yerby worked for six years in the publishing and printing business, before beginning medical studies in 1895 at Meharry Medical Department (now Meharry Medical College) of Central Tennessee College in Nashville. After receiving an M.D. degree from Meharry in 1898, Yerby immediately established his medical practice in Memphis, where he also became active in the Republican Party.

On 30 June 1897, Yerby was married to Cecilia Carolyn Kennedy a Henderson Kentucky schoolteacher and a fellow graduate ...

Article

Yvonne Captain

Manuel Zapata Olivella's frequent use of the word “mulatto” (a person of both African and European descent) to describe his background suggests a biological union as much as a cultural mixture. Focusing less on phenotype and more on what the Afro-Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén would term cultural mulatez, or the mixing of cultures that characterizes the Caribbean, Zapata Olivella explores what unites peoples rather than what separates them. Through his acclaimed works of fiction as well as scholarly studies and public service, Zapata Olivella has significantly advanced the understanding of the contribution of African culture to the world. Together with Nancy Morejón and Quince Duncan he is one of the twentieth century's most admired Afro-Hispanic writers.

Born in the small town of Lorica on the western Caribbean coast of Colombia to parents of African descent, Zapata Olivella used the area's rich folklore in his first novel, Tierra mojada ...