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Julia A. Clancy-Smith

Tunisian labor activist, women’s rights activist, and journalist, was born in the town of Gabes in southern Tunisia. Adda rose to prominence owing to her mother’s emphasis upon female education, although her parents were of modest means. One branch of Adda’s family, who are North African Jews, was originally from Batna in Algeria; her maternal grandfather had left French Algeria to seek his fortune in Tunisia, where he managed a small hotel in the south. For her parents’ generation, it was somewhat unusual for women to attend school; to achieve the “certificate of study,” as Adda’s mother did, was a noteworthy achievement. Gladys Adda’s life trajectory illustrated a number of important regional and global social and political currents: nationalism and anticolonialism, organized labor and workers’ movements, socialism and communism, women’s emancipation, and fascism and anti-Semitism against the backdrop of World War II.

In primary school Adda attended classes with Muslim ...

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Baqi<ayn>e Bedawi Muhammad

Sudanese educator and human rights activist for women’s rights and an advocate for freedom and democracy, was born on 30 May 1935 in Omdurman one of three cities that constitute the capital of Sudan Khartoum Khartoum North and Omdurman Her parents were originally from the Nubian region in northern Sudan Ahmed was the only female among her three siblings She grew up in an environment that helped shape her future life as a liberal and progressive individual Her father Ibrahim Ahmed was an engineer who worked as a teacher in Gordon Memorial College Sudan He played an active role in Sudan s independence movement and served as the first Sudanese Deputy to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Khartoum the first chairman of the University of Khartoum Senate a member of the Executive Council the first Sudanese Parliament and founder and president of Mutamar a l Khiregeen Graduates ...

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Baqi<ayn>e Bedawi Muhammad

Sudanese intellectual, educator, political leader, and women’s advocate, was born on 1 January 1932 in the city of El Obeid, Province of Kordofan, and raised by an Islamic family. Her grandfather, al-Shaykh Mohammed al-Badawi, was a prominent Islamic scholar, and his house in Omdurman was a gathering place for well-known Islamic scholars from North Africa, such as al-Shaykh Mohammed Abdu of Egypt. Al-Badawi’s father, al-Fatih Mohammed al-Badawi, was a district commissioner who replaced the position of the British officer after Sudan independence in 1956. Although girls’ formal education was boycotted by the masses for being based on Western values, he was an open-minded and progressive individual with liberal ideas regarding girls’ education. In this atmosphere al-Badawi and her two sisters were raised.

As a district commissioner al Badawi s father s moved and worked in different regions of Sudan This situation compelled al Badawi to receive her elementary intermediate ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

media mogul, model, and actress, was born Tyra Lynne Banks and grew up in Inglewood, California. Her father, Donald Banks, was a computer consultant, and her mother, Carolyn London, was a medical photographer and business manager. The couple divorced when Tyra was six years old, in 1980.

Banks attended Immaculate Heart Middle and High School, an all-girl's private school. She credited her mother's photography business and friends' encouragement with her ability to overcome a self-consciousness during her awkward adolescence that almost made her pursue another path.

“I grew three inches and lost 40 pounds in 90 days,” she told the Black Collegian in an interview about her teen years. “It was just this crazy growth spurt. I felt like a freak: people would stare at me in the grocery store.”

A friend encouraged her to try modeling during her senior year At the time several ...

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Elisabeth Bekers

daughter of El Hadj Ibrahima Sory Barry of Dara (1884?–1978), the last almamy, or king, of the Fulani of Fouta Djalon, and his third wife, Diello, was born in Mamou, Republic of Guinea (Guinea-Conakry), in 1948 Kesso meaning virgin in Fulani enjoyed a happy childhood in the royal slave sustained and polygamous household of her father until the age of six when she moved to Sogotoro with his authoritarian sister For four years her aunt tried to reform her impulsive headstrong niece through hard work and discipline but to little avail Upon her return to Mamou Barry quickly made her reputation as a revolutionary princess She joined her brothers in typically male activities such as hunting and tax collecting frequenting the cinema and joyriding in her father s car once almost killing a child On her own initiative she attended Mamou s qurʾanic school and its public primary ...

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Tiffany M. Gill

Black is beautiful This familiar cry of the Black Power movement was revolutionary in its celebration of the culture style politics and physical attributes of peoples of African descent Symbols of the black is beautiful aesthetic most notably the Afro not only conjured up ideas about black beauty but also highlighted its contentious relationship with black politics and identity This tension between beauty standards and black politics and identity however did not first emerge in the late twentieth century with the Afro or the Black Power movement In fact blacks particularly black women have been struggling to navigate the paradoxical political nature of black identity and beauty since their enslavement in the Americas Despite this strained relationship black women have actively sought to define beauty in their lives and in the process created and sustained one of the most resilient and successful black controlled enterprises in America the black beauty ...

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Terri DiFazio

Despite how common it was for many of them to have more children than they desired, women of color were suspicious of the early birth control movement. This may be attributed, in part, to its association with the eugenics movement. Francis Galton, a British scientist and distant relative of Charles Darwin, coined the word “eugenics” and founded the Eugenics Society in 1907. Galton’s ideas fueled fear of “race suicide” in the white community and followers advocated birth control as a way to prevent American-born whites from being outnumbered by immigrants and blacks.

Margaret Sanger a public health nurse known for her tireless advocacy of the modern contraceptives movement was not in agreement with Galton s approach to eugenics although she used its terms to win support for the birth control movement Her complex role in this controversial matter raises questions about whether she was a racist ...

Article

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Black queer feminism is a set of approaches to thought, expression, and political action that critiques structures of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and several other forms of oppression. The term “black queer feminism” expands existing modes of feminism and queer/LGBTQIA + activism (activism by and for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual people, as well as others who experience structural gender and sexual oppression) by highlighting the connections between racial, gender, and heterosexist oppression. It also expands on some popular understandings of “black feminism” by placing the voices and political lives of black queer and LGBTQIA + people at the center of black feminist movements both past and present.

One of the key ways black feminism makes these critiques is through an intersectional approach a framework for understanding the political and social world that centers the inseparability of oppressive structures such as racism sexism classism and heterosexism homophobia The term ...

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Marquis Bey

Black trans lives have always been an important subject matter, but only recently has the topic gained public attention. In 2014Time magazine featured black trans woman and actress Laverne Cox in a story entitled The Transgender Tipping Point which helped to bring the lives of black trans people into the spotlight in full force for the first time But long before Cox black people of trans experience have been struggling living dying and making cultural history in the liminal spaces of the social scene They have been at the forefront of activism and have been subjected to a distinctive form of violence that has indelibly shaped the United States Being both black and trans creates a particular life experience that forces one to navigate space and time with the knowledge of how they are seen how they see themselves and what might happen because of the many perceptions ...

Article

Francesca Gamber

civil rights and gay rights advocate, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Bill Boykin, a bus driver and salesman, and Shirley, a federal employee. Shortly after the birth of his sister Krystal in 1966, the family moved from inner-city St. Louis to the predominantly white suburb of Florissant, Missouri. As he grew up, Boykin displayed an interest in politics, becoming student body president in the fifth grade and dreaming of the White House.

Boykin's parents separated when he was in elementary school, and both left the St. Louis area in 1980. Boykin moved with his father and sister to Clearwater, Florida, where his father opened a black beauty-supply business. Boykin attended Countryside High School, where as a senior he was elected student government president, and graduated in 1983 He enrolled in Dartmouth College in Hanover New Hampshire that fall and joined the track team and ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Writer Erna Brodber was raised in rural St. Mary, Jamaica, by parents who were social activists in their small community. After graduating from high school in Kingston, she worked as a civil servant and teacher in Montego Bay before entering the University of the West Indies (UWI), where she received a B.A. degree in history in 1963. Brodber then taught at a private girls' school in Trinidad for one year before continuing her education. She earned a M.Sc. degree in sociology from UWI in 1968 and received a scholarship to study at McGill University in Canada and the University of Washington.

While living in the United States, Brodber was greatly influenced by the Black Power Movement and the women s movements of the late 1960s After returning to Jamaica she became a lecturer in sociology at UWI and earned an international reputation for her research serving ...

Article

Highly regarded for her science-fiction novels and short stories, Octavia Butler was born in Pasadena, California. A shy and dyslexic child, Butler was raised in Pasadena and attended John Muir High School. She then studied for two years at Pasadena City College before completing additional coursework at California State College and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Butler read avidly as a youth and began writing short works of fiction at the age of ten. Her first novel, Patternmaster, was published in 1976 as part of a series that includes Mind of My Mind (1977), Survivor (1978), Wild Seed (1980), and Clay's Ark (1984). Though best known for her novels, Butler has won awards for her short stories, including a Hugo for “Speech Sounds” (1983) and both a Hugo and a Nebula for “Blood-Child” (1984 ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

singer, actor, and comedian, was born Nell Ruth Hardy in Birmingham, Alabama, one of nine children. Nell's parents were Edna Mae Humphrey, a homemaker, and her second husband Horace Hardy, an Army sergeant. At age two, Nell witnessed his accidental electrocution death. Deeply affected by Dinah Washington, B. B. King, and Elvis Presley records, Nell began singing in her church choir, on a local radio show called the “Y-Teens,” and on the gospel circuit. She never grew taller than four feet eleven inches but had a large, commanding voice and presence. Her show business ambitions made her a “weirdo” in a social environment where “most kids wanted to be teachers or nurses” (CNN.com, Entertainment, 23 Jan. 2003). At age 13, the Presbyterian-raised Nell discovered that one of her grandfathers probably had Jewish ancestry. Although not converting until 1983 she started ...

Article

Barbara Bair

writer, educator, and feminist, was born Adelaide Smith on 27 June 1868 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Of mixed Hausa, Fanti, West Indian, and British heritage, she was born into the social world of the Creole professional elite, the daughter of court registrar William Smith and his second wife, Anne. Adelaide Smith moved with her family to England at the age of four (in 1872), and grew to adulthood in Britain. She was educated at the Jersey Ladies’ College, which her father had helped to found. The leaders of the school served as role models for the young Adelaide, who carried the message of female ability she learned at the college into her own adult life. The experience also influenced her lifelong dedication to education as a medium of social change for African women and girls.

Adelaide studied music in Germany for two years before her family s financial circumstances ...

Article

Aomar Boum

Moroccan women’s rights activist, was born in Casablanca on 14 August 1941. An alternate form of her name is Aïcha Ech-Chenna. She spent her childhood in Marrakesh. She lost her father at the age of three and was thereafter raised by her mother. She also lost her sister at a young age. With no male figure in the family, her uncle and some of her father’s friends raised her and supported her upbringing. She returned to Casablanca in 1953 to continue her studies in French at the Foch School and the Lycée Joffre. Before she joined the state nursing school, she began her career as a medical secretary, working in a leprosy program. Later, in 1958, she worked for a lab that specialized in tuberculosis. In 1960 she passed the nursing school entrance exam and began her training receiving a civil service stipend to support herself and ...

Article

Agnes Leslie

first Botswana female to serve as a cabinet minister and member of parliament in Botswana, was born in Serowe, when Botswana was called the Bechuanaland Protectorate. She was the daughter of Moruti Tibe Chiepe and S. T. Chiepe (née Sebina). Her father died when she started primary school. Her father’s cousins wanted her to leave school and get married, but her mother insisted that she stay in school. Chiepe attributes her success to her mother’s determination to see her educated. She attended Serowe primary school near her home, finishing in the late 1930s with high honors She was the best student in the country and was offered a scholarship to study at Tiger Kloof Post Secondary School near Vryburg in the Cape Colony South Africa Chiepe was one of the first girls to attend the school which was three hours from her home The scholarship lessened the financial pressure ...

Article

Sharla M. Fett

The history of African American women’s childbearing is one of cultural resilience and profound structural oppression. Far more than a mere biological event, childbirth has been an important social and religious experience in African American communities. At the same time, slavery, poverty, and discrimination have strongly shaped the social realities of childbearing for many black women. Despite important changes in birth practices over the last three centuries, the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth continue to be closely connected to the broader political and economic struggles of African American women.

From the many cultures of West and Central Africa captive women carried their understandings of birth into the slave societies of the New World Though widely varied African gender systems emphasized the importance of motherhood and fertility to women s social identity and family lineage Captivity by slave traders brought African social institutions of childbirth into a collision with slavery s ...

Article

Wilma King

A variable social construction, the concept of childhood barely existed in early America. In fact, this special period of growth and development experienced before accepting adult responsibilities was not an entrenched American institution until the twentieth century. The time at which this protected segment of the lifecycle ends is debatable. Some scholars and public officials have used twelve as the cutoff while others set it at age sixteen or eighteen. Still others claim childhood lasts until twenty-one years of age.

Age limits aside, other factors, including color, class, status, and the embracing shield of loved ones, are significant in determining if girls enjoy a protected period in their formative years. There are also concerns about their psychological well-being and freedom from emotional devastation, which may mature girls beyond their chronological years.

Article

Elizabeth Ammons

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the daughter of a slave, Hannah Stanley Haywood, and her white master, George Washington Haywood, with whom neither she nor her mother maintained any ties. At age nine she received a scholarship to attend the St. Augustine's Normal School and Collegiate Institute for newly freed slaves, and in 1877 she married an instructor at the school, a Bahamian-born Greek teacher named George Cooper. Left a widow in 1879, she never remarried. She enrolled in 1881 at Oberlin College, where educator and activist Mary Church (later Terrell) also studied, and elected to take the “Gentleman's Course,” rather than the program designed for women. She received her bachelor's degree in 1884 and after teaching for a year at Wilberforce University and then returning briefly to teach at St Augustine s she went back to Oberlin to ...

Article

Debra A. Varnado

educator, was born in Jacksonville, Texas, the fifth of seven children of George W. Crouch, a Methodist minister, and Mary Ragsdale Crouch. Known by the nickname “Red,” Crouch graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in Jacksonville in 1923, but his family would relocate twenty-six miles to the north in Tyler, Texas, which he considered his hometown.

In Tyler, the Crouches lived in a home with a view of Texas College, a historically black school run by the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (later known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church). In 1927 Crouch earned a BA in Biology from Texas College His father an elder in the church wanted him to teach at the school after graduation Instead Crouch left for Dallas for a brief but lucrative stint selling insurance Crouch would later forgo insurance sales for a future in science and education applying to graduate school ...