lawyer and judge, was the third of five children born to Hillard Boone Alexander, a laborer from Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and Virginia Pace, from Essex County, Virginia. Alexander's parents were born slaves, but were freed by the Thirteenth Amendment following the Civil War. In 1880 they migrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they lived in the Seventh Ward, a community that would later be made famous by W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal 1899 study The Philadelphia Negro. In 1903Alexander's mother died of pneumonia. Because his father worked long hours, Alexander and his siblings moved to North Philadelphia to live with his maternal aunt, Georgia Chandler Pace From the age of seven Alexander attended school and worked at various jobs including dockworker newspaper boy general helper at the Metropolitan Opera House in North Philadelphia Pullman porter and when he was in his early twenties ...
David Alvin Canton
Geraldine Rhoades Beckford
physician, educator, and community worker, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the eldest daughter of the abolitionist movement leaders William Still and Letitia George Still. In 1850William Still became the head of the Philadelphia Underground Railroad and Vigilance Committee. He would later chronicle his experiences in the best-selling 1872 account, The Underground Railroad.
After completing primary and secondary education at Mrs. Henry Gordon's Private School, the Friends Raspberry Alley School, and the Institute for Colored Youth, Anderson entered Oberlin College. Although she was the youngest member of the graduating class of 1868, Anderson presided over the annual Ladies' Literary Society, a singular honor that had never been awarded to a student of African ancestry.
After graduating from Oberlin, Anderson returned home to teach drawing and elocution, and on 28 December 1869 she married Edward A. Wiley a former slave and fellow ...
nursing educator and administrator, was born in Milledgeville, Georgia, the daughter of a poor family about whom nothing is known. In 1901 Andrews applied to Spelman College's MacVicar Hospital School of Nursing. On her application, she asked for financial assistance, explaining that her family could not help her pay. Her mother had a large family to support and “an old flicted husband,” who was not Andrews's father. Andrews also said that she had been married but did not currently live with her husband and expected no support from him. Letters praising Andrews and talking about her “good moral character” that came from the pillars of Milledgeville society proved instrumental in securing Andrews's admission.
In 1906 Andrews received her diploma from Spelman and set upon her life s work During her training she resolved that I wanted to work for my people how or where this was to be done ...
Pamela C. Edwards
doctor of ophthalmology, inventor, medical researcher, and advocate for social equity in health care, was born in Harlem, New York, the daughter of Rupert and Gladys Bath. A one-time merchant marine and global traveler, her father emigrated from Trinidad, taking a position as the first black motorman for the New York City subways, and her mother, a descendant of African slaves and Cherokee Indians, Bath tells her biographers, “was a housewife who worked as a domestic after we entered middle school. … She scrubbed floors so I could go to medical school” (Davidson). A brilliant student, Bath attended New York's Charles Evans Hughes High School and in 1959 was selected for a National Science Foundation summer program at Yeshiva University. Working on a cancer research team, Bath demonstrated the future potential of her work in science and medicine and was recognized as one of Mademoiselle magazine s Merit Award ...
Tiffany K. Wayne
psychologist, social worker, and educator, was born in Washington, D.C., the eighth and youngest child of Reverend and Mrs. William James Howard. Ruth Howard loved reading as a child and originally considered becoming a librarian but, after three years at Howard University, she transferred to Simmons College in Boston and changed her major to social work.
In the early decades of the twentieth century social work was a new professional field for women and especially for black women Most African American women in the early decades of the twentieth century were confined to jobs as domestic workers or if they entered the professional class as teachers But at Simmons Howard was introduced to new role models and new career possibilities Through a summer internship with the National Urban League she became inspired by the need for community programs for disadvantaged youth including education recreation and job ...
William A. Morgan
mechanical engineer and rocket scientist, was born John W. Blanton in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of John O. and Carolyn Blanton.
Blanton attended Purdue University in Indiana, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1943. He began his career at Bell Aircraft Corporation in Buffalo, New York, where he worked from 1943 to 1945 and from 1950 through 1956. Initially involved in the research and development of gas and rocket engines, Blanton helped develop the X‐1, which on 14 October 1947 became the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in a human‐operated, level flight.
Two years after marrying Corinne Jones of Mississippi in 1943, Blanton was named the chief engineer of thermo and fluid dynamics at Frederick Flader Incorporated, in Buffalo, New York, where he worked for five years. In 1956 he joined General Electric in Evendale Ohio and continued to make ...
physician, was born in Tipton, Missouri, the son of Willard Hayman Bousfield, a barber, and Cornelia Catherine Gilbert. From the start Bousfield exemplified what W. E. B. Du Bois meant by the term “talented tenth.” Awarded a bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas in 1907, Bousfield earned his MD two years later from Northwestern University in Chicago and did an internship at Howard University's Freedmen's Hospital in 1910. He was lured back to Kansas City for his initial medical practice following an unlikely adventure in Brazil, where, when medical prospects dimmed, he took up prospecting for gold. Bousfield soon felt a need for a larger stage, and in 1914 with his new bride Maudelle Tanner Brown he shifted his base to Chicago There he embarked on a career of astounding breadth that took him to leadership positions in the business health medical philanthropic educational ...
neurosurgeon. Carson was born into relative poverty in Detroit, Michigan. When he turned eight, his parents divorced, and his mother, who had married at the age of thirteen and who had only a third grade education, struggled to raise Benjamin and his older brother Curtis on her own. This personal upheaval left Carson a troubled youth with a ferocious temper and little confidence in school. By the fifth grade, his failing grades and frequent altercations so concerned his mother that she forced her son to improve his grades and develop his reading skills. The new regime quickly created success in school, and by the sixth grade Carson's grades had dramatically improved along with his personal confidence and ambition. Buoyed by the support he found at home and at church, he devoted himself to academic excellence, and by his senior year he had secured a scholarship to Yale University.
educational psychologists. Kenneth Bancroft Clark (b. 24 July 1914; d. 1 May 2005) and Mamie Katherine Phipps Clark (b. 18 April 1917; d. 11 August 1983) were husband-and-wife collaborators who studied the relationship between racial identity and children's self-esteem and development.
Kenneth Clark was born in 1914 in the Panama Canal Zone, where his father, Arthur, worked for the United Fruit Company. In 1919 his mother Miriam decided to move to America so she separated from her husband and moved to Harlem with Kenneth and his younger sister When Kenneth was in junior high school a career counselor recommended that he prepare for a vocational trade but his mother who was earning a very low wage as a seamstress insisted that he transfer to a school where he would have a rigorous course of study He went on to earn his bachelor s ...
Lisa E. Rivo
physician, organization founder, and social reformer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the second of five children all listed as “mulatto” in the 1880 U.S. census. Her parents' names are not known. In 1863 Rebecca completed a rigorous curriculum that included Latin, Greek, and mathematics at the Institute for Colored Youth, an all-black high school.
In 1867 Cole became the first black graduate of the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania and the second formally trained African American woman physician in the United States. Dr. Ann Preston, the first woman dean of a medical school, served as Cole's preceptor, overseeing her thesis essay, “The Eye and Its Appendages.” The Women's Medical College, founded by Quaker abolitionists and temperance reformers in 1850 as the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, was the world's first medical school for women. By 1900 at least ten African American women had received their medical degrees from ...
Caryn E. Neumann
nurse, was born Namahyoke Gertrude Sockum in California as the first of seven children. Her maternal grandmother was German, and her maternal grandfather was African American. Her mother, whose name is unknown, married Hamilton Sockum, a Native American of the Acoma Pueblo tribe of New Mexico. Raised by an aunt, Curtis attended grade school in San Francisco. She furthered her education by graduating from Snell Seminary in Oakland in 1888. After graduation Curtis went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to visit relatives. There she met Austin Maurice Curtis and eloped with him on 5 May 1888. After the marriage she returned to California while her husband attended Northwestern University Medical School. When the Sockum family learned of the marriage, they sent their daughter to rejoin her husband in Chicago.
While living in Chicago Curtis became absorbed in efforts to uplift the black community She played an instrumental role with Dr ...
nurse, educator, and community advocate, was born in Shelby, North Carolina, the daughter of an unlawful interracial marriage between Darryl Elliott, a part African American Cherokee sharecropper, and Emma (maiden name unknown), the daughter of a plantation owner and Methodist minister. Darryl Elliott fled the state early in Davis's life, leaving her to be raised by her mother. Both parents had died by 1887, after which Davis was raised in a succession of foster homes. At the age of twelve she was sent to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lived under the guardianship of the Reverend Vickers. In the Vickers household she was regarded more as a domestic helper than a ward; consequently her early formal education was pursued on a sporadic basis. Determined to succeed, she possessed the intrepidity to improve her reading skills on her own.
In 1896 at the age of fourteen ...
Davis, Frances Elliott (28 April 1882–02 May 1965), public health nurse, nurse-educator, and community advocate was born in Shelby North Carolina the daughter of an unlawful interracial marriage between Darryl Elliott a part African American Cherokee sharecropper and Emma maiden name unknown the daughter of a plantation owner and Methodist minister Darryl Elliott fled the state early in Frances s life leaving her to be raised by her mother Both parents had died by 1887 after which Davis was raised in a succession of foster homes At the age of twelve she was sent to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania where she lived under the guardianship of the Reverend Mr Vickers In the Vickers household she was regarded more as a domestic helper than a ward consequently her early formal education was pursued on a sporadic basis Determined to succeed she possessed the intrepidity to upgrade her reading skills on ...
For much of the 19th century medical practice in Britain did not enjoy high status, although by 1860 the old system of training through apprenticeship was in decline. An Act of 1858 established the General Medical Council, which began to police practitioners but did not make unqualified practice illegal. Nevertheless, in the next 20 years medical training had become more professional, more scientifically based, and the practice of medicine more highly esteemed. Training lasted several years and was costly. Increased numbers of qualified doctors made for an overcrowded profession. There was little scientific education in colonial secondary schools, and full medical training was not available in the British West Indies or in the African colonies, although in the mid‐19th century Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone, provided some basic pre‐medical instruction; the Yaba Medical Training College in Nigeria was not opened until 1930 and then only to award diplomas ...
physician, was born Justina Laurena Warren in Knoxville, Illinois. Her parents were Melissa Brisco Warren and Pryor Warren; Melissa Warren's first marriage ended with the death of her husband, Ralph Alexander. When Justina was very young, the family moved to nearby Galesburg, Illinois. She was the seventh child in her family. Her mother was a nurse, which may have influenced Justina's early interest in medicine. Ford recalled that as a young girl she was so focused on becoming a doctor that she wove her passion for medicine into all of her activities. She played hospital, tended the ill, and even used her chores, such as dressing chickens, to study anatomy.
In December 1892 Justina Warren married the Fisk-educated Reverend John E. Ford. After her marriage, Justina Ford enrolled in Chicago's Hering Medical College, and graduated in 1899 She and her husband moved to Normal Alabama ...
Diana Kristine Durham
physician, political activist, teacher, and reformer, was born in Charles City County, Virginia, to Alexander and Anna Franklin in a community known as Mattie Hunt near the banks of the Chickahominy River. Charles's father, Alexander Quincy Franklin, earned his living as a schoolteacher and a farmer and served as a representative in the Virginia legislature during the 1889–1890 session and as commissioner of revenue for Charles City County. Charles's mother, Anna Marion Brown, a housewife, was born into one of the oldest free, landowning African American families in Virginia. Charles was the second of nine children in a family of six boys and three girls.
From an early age Charles Sumner Franklin aspired to a career other than farming. He received his early education at Bullfield Academy, a one-room school in the Ruthville community. His maternal uncle, Daniel Webster Brown was his teacher ...
Omar H. Ali
developmental psychologist, educator, and national independent political leader, was born Lenora Branch in Chester, Pennsylvania. A youth leader in the black Baptist Church, Fulani grew up in a working-class black community; her mother, Pearl, was a nurse, and her father, Charles Lee, was a baggage carrier on the Pennsylvania Railroad. As a child, Fulani briefly participated in the public school desegregation process following Brown v. Board of Education (1954). While still in her early teens she decided to become a psychologist to help her immediate community; during the 1970s, reflecting her pride in being of African descent, she changed her surname to Fulani, the name of various West African nomadic groupings of people.
Fulani won a scholarship to Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, where she majored in psychology. Divorced when her two children, Ainka and Amani were still very young she ...
Laticia Ann Marie Willis
nurse, social activist, and hospital founder, was born Millie Essie Gibson in Nashville, Tennessee, one of five children of Henry Gibson, a blacksmith, and Nannie Gibson. Millie spent her childhood in Nashville, having attended Pearl Elementary School from 1888 to 1892 and graduating from Fisk University's Normal School in 1901. She moved to New York City in order to study nursing at the Graduate School of Nurses there. Later, in 1927, she received her BA degree from Fisk. On 20 December 1905 she married John Henry Hale, who taught at Nashville's Meharry Medical College. They had two daughters, Mildred and Essie.
Hale returned from New York committed to improving health care for Nashville's African American community. On 1 July 1916 she founded the Millie E Hale Hospital which became the first year round hospital in the city to provide health care ...
E. Renée Ingram
physician and surgeon who specialized in pulmonary medicine, was born in Lexington, Davidson County, North Carolina. He was the son of Henry M. and Laura Hargrave, farmers, and one of fourteen children; he attended local public schools in Lexington before attending the state normal school in Salisbury, North Carolina. Hargrave received a BS from Shaw University in 1901 and an MD from Leonard Medical School. Founded in 1885, Leonard Medical School was one of the first medical schools in the United States to have a four-year curriculum. It also was the first four-year medical school to train African American doctors and pharmacists in the South. Hargrave practiced medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, from 1901 to 1903 before relocating his private medical practice to Wilson, North Carolina, where he practiced from 1903 to 1924 and established the Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home. Hargrave married Bessie E Parker ...
Throughout the twentieth century, black American social leaders stressed that improvement in health was vital for the future of black America. The eminent scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois made health a high priority for the conferences on black issues that he organized at Atlanta University from 1897 to 1906. The most popular educator and social leader of turn-of-the-century black America, Booker T. Washington, established the National Negro Health Week campaign in 1915 This campaign encouraged black civic groups throughout the nation to organize health activities in black neighborhoods But it was not until the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s that the federal government moved to the front in ensuring health care resources for urban and rural black communities Black medical professionals and health institutions played a key role in the improvement of black health in this long quest for equality in ...