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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

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

Dior Konaté

Senegalese philosopher and university professor, was born on 24 May 1959 in Saint-Louis in Senegal and attended a local school, the Lycée Amet Fall. After passing with honors her baccalaureate in 1977 at the age of nineteen, Aminata Diaw left Senegal to pursue her studies in France. In 1978 she enrolled at the Lycée Paul Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence, a preparatory school, earning a diplôme d’études universitaires générales (DEUG 1) in philosophy. A year later, she left for another preparatory school, the Lycée Masséna in Nice to complete a DEUG 2 and a bachelor of arts degree both in philosophy before going to Nice, where she obtained a master’s degree in 1981 from the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis. Then Diaw completed her philosophical studies culminating in a postgraduate diploma (DEA) and a dissertation on the theory of conflicts in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s political thinking. In 1985 she was awarded a doctorate ...

Article

James Kilgore

Zimbabwean freedom fighter and politician, grew up in a politically minded family. Her father, a bricklayer, was frequently detained by the white minority government, and Dongo recalled visiting him in prison when she was just seven years old. At fifteen she left secondary school and walked two hundred miles to Mozambique to join the freedom fighters of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU, later ZANU-PF, for “Patriotic Front”). ZANU was conducting a liberation war against the colonial regime led by Ian Smith, leader of Rhodesia (modern-day Zimbabwe). Dongo trained as a medical assistant. She took the Chimurenga (“liberation war”) name of “Tichaona Muhondo” (“We shall see on the battlefield”).

At independence in 1980 she returned to Zimbabwe, completed a typing course, and worked as the Secretary for Women’s Affairs in the national headquarters of ZANU-PF in Harare. In 1983 she took a position in the Ministry of State Security ...

Article

Benjamin Letzler

law professor, dean, and diplomat, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to the Reverend Clarence Clyde Ferguson Sr. and Georgeva Ferguson. After a childhood in Baltimore he served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946, earning a Bronze Star, before attending Ohio State University on a football scholarship. He soon left the football squad to focus on his academic work, completing his AB cum laude in two and a half years. Ferguson earned his LLB cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1951, one of three black members of the class.

After a year as a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School and a year in private practice in New York, Ferguson served as assistant general counsel to the Moreland Act Commission to Investigate Harness Racing. Ferguson married the artist and sculptor Dolores Zimmerman in 1954 After her death in the late ...

Article

Amy Grant

The intrepid bell hooks has been one of America’s premier social critics, although often incorrectly categorized as merely a black feminist. It would be more accurate to characterize her as a public intellectual engaged in the arts of literary, film, and popular cultural criticism and committed to the struggle against racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. Many of her writings, interviews, and public speeches identified these dominant discourses as serious impediments designed to inhibit people from realizing a fuller understanding of themselves and their fellow human beings. Hooks sought to dismantle these dominant political discourses by exposing their use in art, literature, and film. Meanwhile, hooks encouraged those most damaged by these ideas, such as black women, to join this struggle, believing strongly that the elevation of black womanhood will result in the liberation of blacks and American society itself.

Bell hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky ...

Article

Ralph E. Luker

writer and anthropologist, was born Zora Lee Hurston in Notasulga, Alabama, the daughter of John Hurston, a Baptist minister and carpenter, and Lucy Ann Potts. John Hurston's family were Alabama tenant farmers until he moved to Eatonville, Florida, the first African American town incorporated in the United States. He served three terms as its mayor and is said to have written Eatonville's ordinances. Zora Neale Hurston studied at its Hungerford School, where followers of Booker T. Washington taught both elementary academic skills and self-reliance. Growing up in an exclusively black community gave her a unique background that informed and inspired much of her later work.Much of the chronological detail of Hurston's early life is obscured by the fact that she later claimed birth dates that varied from 1898 to 1903. Most often she cited 1901 as her birth year, but the census of 1900 lists ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

“I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”

This quotation from her essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” (1928 portrays Zora Neale Hurston s joyfully contrary view of herself in a world where being black was often perceived as a problem and portrayed that way even by black writers Hurston considered her own blackness a gift and an opportunity As an anthropologist and writer she savored the richness of black culture and made a career out of writing about that culture in ...

Article

miriam cooke

Moroccan sociologist and activist on behalf of Muslim women’s rights, was born in Fez and studied at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, before obtaining her PhD in sociology from Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Mernissi was one of the earliest exponents of second-wave Islamic feminism. She writes in French, Arabic, and English; and her books have been translated into over twenty languages. Most of her writings consist of unorthodox reinterpretations of the past seen through the lens of gender justice. Her pioneering Beyond the Veil: Male–Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society, published in 1975 and calling for religious reform in sexual ideology, gender relations, and expectations, launched a widespread movement in Muslim societies protesting the misogynist ways in which male religious authorities had interpreted Muslim scriptures.

Use of a Berber pseudonym, Fatna Ait Sabbah, when producing her 1982La femme dans l’inconscient musulman Women in the Muslim Unconscious ...

Article

Gerhard Seibert

, economist, politician, and former prime minister of São Tomé e Príncipe, was born Maria das Neves Ceita Batista in São Tomé on 11 July 1958. She married Carlos Quaresma Batista de Sousa, with whom she has two daughters. Neves graduated in economics with a specialization in finance and crediting. Thereafter she became a civil servant in the ministry of finance and attended several training courses in macroeconomic management and banking. From 1999 to 2001 she was minister of economics, commerce, agriculture, fisheries, and tourism (a post that her husband had occupied in previous governments) in the government of Prime Minister Guilherme Posser da Costa (Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe/Partido Social Democrata; MLSTP/PSD). While minister of economy in March 1999 she was embarrassed by her husband who was dismissed from his post of governor of the Central Bank of São Tomé and Príncipe BCSTP due ...

Article

Aili Tripp

, Kenyan politician, was born on 1 January 1952 in Mbooni, Makueni District, of Kamba lineage. She obtained management and secretarial training at Government Secretarial College, Kianda College, and the Kenya Institute of Administration for Business. She first worked as a secretary and eventually became a successful plastics and bakery businesswoman. Prior to going into politics, Ngilu had held the position of managing director of a food manufacturing company. She was elected a Member of Parliament for Kitui Central in 1992, 1997, 2002, and 2007.

In 1997 Ngilu became the first woman in Kenya to run for president Later in the race environmentalist and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai also announced her candidacy making her the second woman to join the presidential race During the race Ngilu earned the nickname Mama Masaa a term that plays on her party s symbol the clock suggesting that she is ...

Article

Kim Miller

South African antiapartheid activist and organizer, was born Dorothy Nomzansi Nyembe in the rural area of KwaZulu-Natal. Her mother, Leeya Basolise Nyembe, was the daughter of Chief Ngedee Shezi. Dorothy Nyembe attended mission schools through the ninth grade and gave birth to her only child at the age of fifteen.

In 1952 Nyembe joined the African National Congress (ANC). In 1954 she was instrumental in establishing the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL), and in 1959 she was elected president of the ANCWL branch in Natal. She was also a leading member of the Federation of South African Women (FSAW).

Dorothy Nyembe worked tirelessly as an activist for both the ANCWL and the FSAW and took on leadership roles in regards to a number of issues She was the chairperson of the Two Sticks Branch Committee she was a key figure opposing forced removals from Cato Manor in 1956 and she led ...

Article

Edwin S. Segal

Ugandan socio-cultural anthropologist, received her BA and MA degrees from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. From Makerere, Obbo went to the University of Wisconsin for further graduate work and earned an additional MA and a PhD (1977), supported by a Rockefeller Foundation scholarship. She then taught at Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts, and at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Obbo was later involved in activities as a consultant for issues of gender and HIV/AIDS research and policy issues.

Within anthropology Dr Obbo specialized in a number of areas dealing with Ugandan ethnography examining female Ugandan urban migrants and widows most recently she has devoted her attention to the social and cultural elements of Africa s HIV AIDS crisis In all of her work she has insisted that anthropology be part of the solution to the pressing needs in Africa She was part of the post colonial movement among ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

poet, writer, and educator, was born Carolyn Marie Rodgers in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest child of Clarence Rodgers, welder, and Bazella Cato Colding Rodgers, homemaker. Rodgers was one of four children, including two sisters and a brother. The family had migrated from Little Rock, Arkansas, and settled in Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. Rodgers's parents encouraged their children to read and involved them in the local African Methodist Episcopal Church. After graduating from Hyde Park High School, Rodgers attended Roosevelt University in Chicago, but left around 1965, one course short of her B.A. She earned her B.A. in English from Chicago State University in 1981 and her M.A. in the same subject from the same institution in 1984.

Rodgers found her literary voice through the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and early 1970s She was an original member of the Organization ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Senegalese sociologist and activist, was born on 2 November 1947 in the Senegalese city of Dakar to a Catholic family. She attended primary schools and secondary schools in Senegal. She then completed her advanced degrees in sociology in France. After completing her studies, Savané became a journalist. She became the head editor of the journal Famille et Développement from 1974 to 1978. From 1978 to 1988 she was a researcher for the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Savané took a new position in 1990 as a special adviser to the UN High Commission for Refugees, and she stayed in this position until she became the director for the West African section of a UN agency that specifically focused on demographic issues in 1992. She later became the director for this agency’s projects on the entire African continent from 1994 to 1997.

At the same time ...

Article

Dior Konaté

Senegalese sociologist and feminist, was born in Dakar, Senegal. She was one of the earliest and best-known Francophone African women scholars to study gender relations. She is a professor of sociology at Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar (UCAD) in Senegal and a researcher at the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa (IFAN) and at the National Center for Scientific Researcher (CNRS) in France, affiliated to the Laboratoire de Sociétés en Développement dans l’Espace et le Temps (SEDET), University of Paris VII-Denis Diderot in France.

Sow finished her secondary school education at the Lycée Van Vollenhoven in Dakar She had first intended to be a lawyer a childhood dream she later abandoned She then attended the University of Dakar where she received degrees in sociology and philosophy In an interview she recalled her experience of being a female student in a male dominated learning environment One of the first African women ...

Article

Adebe DeRango-Adem

literary scholar and writer of fiction, was born Hortense Jeanette Spillers in Memphis, Tennessee, the eldest child of Curtis and Evelyn (Taylor) Spillers.

She began her scholarly career at Melrose High School in Memphis, from which she graduated in 1960. She began her studies at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, to continue at Memphis State University, where she received both a B.A. in English Literature (1964) and an M.A. in English and American Literature (1966). Having grown up in a Baptist community, the African American sermon was to become a focus of her graduate work and after two years of teaching at Kentucky State College (now Kentucky State University) Spillers entered the graduate department of English and American literature of Brandeis University in the fall of 1968 There she continued her teaching throughout the period of graduate study particularly in the ...

Article

Kathleen Sheldon

political activist in Angola, and leader of the Organização Mulher Angolana (OMA; Angolan Women’s Organization), was born in the village of Bengo, just north of Luanda. Van-Dúnem has been involved in politics her entire life. Her father, Guilherme Pereira Inglês, was a Methodist minister who encouraged her education, and enrolled her in classes in Luanda when she was a child. He was tortured and killed by the Portuguese colonial regime in 1961. Her mother died soon after that, and Van-Dúnem left with her two older sisters and joined the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA; People’s Liberation Movement of Angola) when she was just thirteen years old; two younger brothers also accompanied them. She lost several family members during the armed struggle, including one sister who died in 1963 and one brother who was killed in 1968.

Van-Dúnem spent 1964 to 1967 in Kinshasa in the ...

Article

Martha Davis

Notable among the works of Ana Lydia Vega are Vírgenes y mártires (1981), the author's first book, which was coauthored with Carmen Lugo Filipp; Encancaranublado y otros cuentos de naufragio (1982), which won Vega the 1982 Casa de Las Americas Prize; La gran fiesta (1986), a screenplay that was made into a movie; Pasión de historia y otras historias de pasión (1987); and Falsas crónicas del sur (1991). Various Vega stories and a novella were translated into English by Andrew Hurley and appeared under the title True and False Romances (1994). Vega has received numerous awards for her work, including the PEN (International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, and Novelists) Club of Puerto Rico National Literature Prize on several occasions, the prestigious Casa de Las Americas Prize of Cuba (1982 the Juan Rulfo International ...