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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

Article

Elvita Dominique

physician, professor, mental health activist, and Harlem community leader, was born Elizabeth Bishop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the eldest of the three children of Shelton Hale Bishop and Eloise Carey. Her mother's father, Archibald James Carey Sr., was an influential African Methodist Episcopal (AME) clergyman in Chicago. Her father's father, Hutchens C. Bishop, was the first black graduate of General Theological Seminary in New York City, the oldest seminary of the Episcopal Church. He was also the fourth rector of the important and influential Saint Philip's Episcopal Church in Harlem. Bishop's parents continued their families' tradition of public service. Her father, who received a BA and a doctorate of divinity from Columbia University, succeeded his own father as the fifth rector of Saint Philip's. Her mother was a teacher.

Elizabeth Bishop s interest in psychiatry can be traced to the work of her father He was an ...

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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

politician, feminist activist, and educator, was born in March 1909 in Calabar a port city in eastern Nigeria even though her parents were members of the Yoruba ethnic community who mainly live in southwestern Nigeria Her father Thomas Adeogun Ojo belonged to the powerful Yoruba Ojo Badan family of the city of Ibadan Her mother Madam Ajitie Ojo earned the Yoruba nickname Iya Gbogbo the mother of all for her wealth and generosity as she ran a large trade business in kola nuts and alligator pepper Her father served in the British military and then worked as forestry officer for the colonial administration After he retired from civil service he became a chief in Ibadan Although her parents never received a Western education they recognized its importance Esan s siblings included an architect a lawyer and a teacher Her family was committed to educating its girls as well as ...

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 ...

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Diane Todd Bucci

journalist, author, editor, and professor, grew up in Yonkers, New York. Her parents were Curtis G. Giddings and Virginia Stokes Giddings, and both were college educated. Her father was a teacher and guidance counselor, and her mother was employed as a guidance counselor as well. The family's neighborhood was integrated, and Giddings was the first African American to attend her private elementary school, where she was the victim of racial attacks. Even now, Giddings regrets that she allowed herself to be silenced by these attacks. This, no doubt, is what compelled her to develop her voice as a writer. Giddings graduated from Howard University with a BA in English in 1969, and she worked as an editor for several years. Her first job was as an editorial assistant at Random House from 1969 to 1970 and then she became a copy editor at Random ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

labor union organizer and officer, businessperson, educator, and activist, was born Aileen Clarke in Brooklyn, New York, to Jamaican immigrants Ethel Louise Hall Clarke, a theatrical costume maker and seamstress, and Charles Henry Clarke Sr., an art supply business worker. Their lessons of bravery, persistence, and nondiscrimination served Hernandez and her brothers well as they grew up in Bay Ridge, a majority-white Brooklyn neighborhood. Hernandez was valedictorian of her public grammar school class. In 1943 she graduated from Bay Ridge High School as salutatorian and won a scholarship to Howard University. Outraged by the more blatant segregation in the nation's capital, she picketed Jim Crow facilities with the campus NAACP chapter. Hernandez edited the college newspaper and penned a college issues column for the Washington Tribune. After graduating from Howard magna cum laude in Sociology and Political Science in 1947 she was ...

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

Baqi<ayn>e Bedawi Muhammad

Sudanese educator and women’s rights activist, was born on 1 January 1928 in al-Rank City in southern Sudan, at a time when girls’ formal education, which was based on the Western educational system, was perceived by the masses as a taboo. Ismaʿil’s family was among the few who encouraged their daughters toward formal education as opposed to traditional education, which was rooted in Sudanese Muslim culture. This form of teaching carries and maintains strict and specific values taught in the Qurʾan, the violation of which was not tolerated. Formal education for girls was first established by Christian missionaries to serve their communities, yet Muslim girls were allowed to attend. In 1907 taking a courageous step Sudanese educator Sheik Babikr Badri founded a private girls school in Rufaʾa central Sudan which was against the will of his family and the British colonial authority Although this school provided an alternative for ...

Article

Felix Macharia Kiruthu

Kenyan educator, politician, and diplomat, is the daughter of Kenya’s founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, and his first wife Wahu. Margaret Wambui Kenyatta graduated from the Alliance high school during the colonial period, which was the top school for the African elite. She was one of the few literate African women at the time, but opted to teach in an African independent school with few facilities although she could have acquired a job in schools run by Christian missionaries, which had better facilities.

Wambui taught at the Githunguri Teachers College during the 1950s an independent school that was started by Jomo Kenyatta and Mbiyu Koinange to spearhead nationalism in Central Kenya In this way she made an important contribution to the struggle for liberation in Kenya At the time Kenya s nationalist movement was in high gear especially in central Kenya where the Mau Mau nationalist activity was beginning to worry ...

Article

Judith Imel Van Allen

South African antiapartheid, human rights, and gender activist, scholar, author, Gandhian, and the most well-known Indian woman political leader in South Africa, was born in Durban on 12 August 1928 to Moosa Meer, a Gandhian and editor and publisher of Indian Views (1914–1965), and Rachel Farrel, an orphan of Jewish-Portuguese descent who converted to Islam and took the name Amina.

Meer, the second of nine children, grew up in a liberal Islamic atmosphere within a large extended family concerned with antiapartheid and anticolonial politics, and committed to education for all their children. Meer attended Durban Indian Girls’ High School and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology at the University of Natal, a notable achievement for her time.

Meer’s political activism began at age 16, raising funds for famine relief in Bengal, and her intelligence, quick wit, energy, intensity, and poise soon brought her to prominence. In 1946 while ...

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 ...

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Elena Bertoncini Zúbková

Tanzanian playwright and scholar, also known as Penina Mlama (her marital surname), was born on 3 March 1948 at Kilosa near Morogoro town in Tanzania (then Tanganyika) in the small tribe of Kaguru. She studied at the University of Dar es Salaam and obtained a BA in theater arts, an MA in education, and a PhD in language and linguistics. She joined the Department of Theatre, Art, and Music (also called of Fine and Performing Arts) at the same university as a lecturer and later a professor of theater arts. In 1982 she became the head of the department then served as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences as well as chief academic officer and deputy vice chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam Thanks to her supportive husband she managed without great problems to match up her academic duties with her theatrical activity and ...

Article

Elena Vezzadini

Egyptian educationalist nationalist and feminist was born in al Zaqaziq on the Nile Delta Her father was an officer of the Egyptian Army killed before her birth during an expedition to Sudan most probably to quell the Mahdist upheaval 1881 1885 Her mother was a housewife illiterate whose name and origins are unknown and who reared her and her only brother alone From al Zaqaziq the family moved to Cairo so that Nabawiyya s brother could attend primary and secondary schools and later be admitted to the Cairo Military College This gave Nabawiyya the chance to attend the Girls Section of the Abbas Primary School After that Nabawiyya decided to enter the al Saniyya School for Teacher Training against her mother and brother s will Among middle class families like hers work for women was frowned upon and teaching was seen as particularly deplorable because it entailed regular breaches of ...

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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 ...

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Joshua V. P. Sibblies

Reconstruction-era schoolteacher, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the daughter of Holdridge Primus, a porter and later clerk, and Mehitable Jacobs, a seamstress. The Primuses were a prominent family in Connecticut's African American community, and her younger brother, Nelson Primus, achieved some success as an artist. They were one of the only thirty-five African American families in Hartford who owned property, and because of this they lived in a predominantly white neighborhood. This did not prevent them from forging strong ties with fellow blacks in Hartford. The family attended the Talcott Street Congregational Church, and their home doubled as an employment agency for young African American women. Rebecca attended the school located in the church, taught by Pastor James W. Pennington, a former runaway slave, a nationally known abolitionist, and the author of one of the earliest histories of African Americans.

Rebecca s social standing the ...

Article

Born Wilsonia Driver in Birmingham, Alabama, Sonia Sanchez moved with her family to Harlem, New York when she was a young girl. Sanchez received a B.A. in 1955 from Hunter College in New York and spent the following year studying poetry at New York University.

An activist associated first with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Sanchez was further radicalized by Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. Her first volume of poetry, Homecoming, appeared in 1969, after several years of publishing in journals with other Black Nationalist poets such as Larry Neal and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka). Sanchez's poems from this period were experimental and irreverent in style, content, and presentation. She became famous for bravura spoken-word performances that captured the cadences of African American speech. From 1965 to 1969 she taught in San Francisco and was actively involved in the founding ...