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Primary Source

This biography appears in African American Women Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2011), by Dr. Jeannette Brown.

Article

Mandisa Mbali

antiapartheid, gay rights, AIDS, and human rights activist, was born in Johannesburg in South Africa. Adurrazack (“Zackie”) Achmat was of Cape Malay heritage. His father, Suleiman Achmat, was a member of the South African Communist Party and his mother, Mymoena, was a trade union shop steward. Achmat’s entry into politics began at the age of 14 with his participation in the 1976 student uprising. He was detained in 1977 for burning down his high school in Salt River to demonstrate his support for the uprising. Achmat obtained a bachelor of arts honors degree in English literature from the University of the Western Cape in 1992.

He spent much of the period between 1976 and 1980 in detention for his opposition to the apartheid system. It was also in this period that Achmat read the then-banned works of Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky and the progressive academic journal Work in ...

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Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a fatal disease caused by the slow-acting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus multiplies in the body until it causes immune system damage, leading to diseases of the AIDS syndrome. HIV emerged in Africa in the 1960s and traveled to the United States and Europe the following decade. In the 1980s it spread silently across the globe until it became pandemic, or widespread. Some areas of the world were already significantly affected by AIDS, while in others the epidemic was just beginning. The virus is transmitted mainly via sexual fluids, but also by blood, from mother to child in the womb, and during delivery or breast-feeding. AIDS first was identified in the United States and France in 1981, principally among homosexual men. Then in 1982 and 1983 heterosexual Africans also were diagnosed Today AIDS poses a threat to the survival of millions especially ...

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The existence of HIV was first identified among populations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, as it was in North America and sub-Saharan Africa, in the early 1980s. HIV is a particularly virulent and incurable infection that is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids (such as blood or semen) and attacks the immune system, leaving the infected person susceptible to opportunistic infections and certain cancers, often resulting in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and death. Recent trends in Latin America and the Caribbean show a disproportionate number of new cases of HIV infection emerging among the poor and working classes and among populations of African descent.

After a few cases of the disease were diagnosed among Haitian immigrants in the United States, considerable attention was focused on the AIDS epidemic in Haiti This focus led to the misconception among many U S scientists and in the media that Haitian ...

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Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which slowly attacks an infected person's immune system. Fatalities are rarely caused by AIDS alone, but rather by opportunistic infections that take advantage of the weakened immune system. HIV is transmitted through direct exchange of body fluids—such as blood or blood products, semen, and vaginal secretions—mainly during sexual intercourse or through the sharing of needles by intravenous drug users. AIDS is considered the last stage of HIV infection.

In America, AIDS was initially identified with gay white men. In response to this reality the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) directed their early response to gay communities in large urban areas. According to the CDC's internal research, however, minorities were increasingly becoming infected with HIV. By 1985 almost 40 percent of all AIDS cases were among minorities Amazingly over the next few years additional CDC research indicated ...

Article

Theodore Cohen

was born on 20 January 1908 in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, to Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, a medical doctor, and Pilar Beltrán Luchirí, the descendant of Ignacio María Luchichí, a well-known writer in the surrounding Papaloapan basin of southern Mexico. Though born into an elite family with no African ancestry, Aguirre Beltrán had a major impact on how we understand the African heritage of Mexico. In addition, he was interested in social issues, had an affinity for anarchism, and read scholars such as Georg Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx. In 1921 he moved to Mexico City to continue his preparatory studies, and in 1927 he enrolled in medical school at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico). Having finished his thesis, “El metabolism basal en lasnefrosis” (Elemental Metabolism in Nephrosis), he graduated in 1931. He married Judith Avendaño, and they had five children.

After finishing medical school Aguirre ...

Article

AIDS  

Courtney Q. Shah

Scientists have debated the origins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) since they first recognized them in 1981 when clusters of homosexual men in California and New York were found to have suppressed immune systems. Since then HIV has become pandemic, affecting all segments of the population in every corner of the globe. Scientists believe that the disease originated in Cameroon, where a related virus called simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) has been found in chimpanzees. The theory is that SIV jumped from chimpanzees to humans sometime in the twentieth century. A retrospective study of preserved blood samples done in 1998 confirmed that the earliest known case of HIV was in a Congolese man who died in 1959.

AIDS was first labeled gay related immune deficiency GRID by the U S government s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC The earliest studies in ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Togolese medical doctor and politician, was born on 2 September 1913 in Lomé, the capital of the West African German colony of Togo. His parents belonged to a Ewe-speaking community. His father, Andréas Aku, was the first Togolese head of the Protestant Church of Togo and had been ordained by German missionaries. His mother was Caroline Aku.

Naturally, Aku attended Protestant missionary schools in Lomé from 1920 to 1928 The German Protestant pastor Gottfried Stoevesandt was so impressed with Aku s intellectual ability that he invited him to attend secondary school in Germany His relatively poor but influential parents agreed For the handful of Togolese students able to continue their education in Europe between World War I and World War II the medical field was the most attractive subject of their studies Aku passed the German baccalaureate examinations and then with the support of the Bremen Protestant mission entered ...

Article

Thomas O. Fox and Jocelyn Spragg

scientist and educator, was born in Pennsauken, New Jersey, the second of nine children, to Howard R. Amos Sr., a Philadelphia postman, and Iola Johnson, who had been adopted by and worked for a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family who schooled her with their own children at home. This family remained lifelong friends of Iola and kept the young Amos family well supplied with books, including a biography of Louis Pasteur, which piqued Harold's interest in science in the fourth grade. Both Howard and Iola expected their children to be serious about their education and to excel academically. Harold, along with his siblings, took piano lessons and remained a competent amateur pianist. He also gained a reputation as an excellent tennis player.

Harold received his early education in a segregated school in Pennsauken then graduated first in his class from Camden High School in New Jersey He ...

Primary Source

This biography appears in African American Women Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2011), by Dr. Jeannette Brown.

Primary Source

The Tuskegee experiment, formally the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, lasted from 1932 until 1972 when a New York Times article shamed the government into ending it Run by the U S Public Health Service USPHS and made up of 600 African American men 399 infected with syphilis and 201 free of the disease the purported purpose of the study was to test whether untreated syphilis affected African Americans differently than whites Macon County was chosen for the study because of its high rate of syphilis and the poverty and poor education of its inhabitants The men in the study were not told about the disease it was referred to as bad blood or that they were participating in a scientific study In exchange for their participation the men were given hot meals on the day of their visits to the clinic free medical care ...

Article

Courtney L. Young

African Americans have always played an important part in the U.S. space program. Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. was the first African American astronaut, although he never went on a space mission. Lawrence was an air force test pilot and among the first people named to the U.S. Air Force manned orbiting laboratory program, a precursor to the space shuttle program developed in the 1960s by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Lawrence died in an airplane accident in 1967, and NASA did not recruit another African American astronaut for more than ten years.

In 1978 three African American men were selected by NASA for the astronaut training program: Guion S. Bluford Jr., Frederick Gregory, and Ronald E. McNair. Bluford became the first African American to fly in space in 1983 and he took part in four missions totaling more than 688 hours in space ...

Article

Robert Fay

Located near the city of Aswan, the Aswan High Dam provoked controversy even before it was constructed. The United States had promised funds to Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser to underwrite the construction of the dam. Egypt claimed nonalignment during the Cold War—that is, it allied with neither the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) nor the United States. However, while seeking funding for the dam, Egypt completed an arms deal with the USSR In retaliation, the United States withdrew the funding offer, whereupon Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal claiming that revenue from the canal would offset the dam s construction costs This provoked an international conflict over control of the canal Nasser meanwhile secured funds from the USSR for one third of the dam s construction costs the total of which exceeded $1 billion The dam was an important part of Nasser s vision for Egypt He sought ...

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Caroline M. Fannin

Despite gender and race discrimination, and despite the small numbers of black women active in aviation, black women have contributed notably to the encouragement of black Americans’ participation in aviation and to the furtherance of aerospace research.

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Betty Kaplan Gubert

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the dream of flying became a reality and the nation's expectations of the new technology were enormous—some thought it would even eliminate warfare. African Americans hoped to enter this new arena, in part to put to rest society's deeply held belief that blacks were an inferior race. In 1992, however, the Organization of Black Airline Pilots stated that only 600 of the nation's 70,000 commercial airline pilots were African American. The number rises when private and military pilots are considered, but numbers remain small.

The earliest African American pilot is thought to have been Charles Wesley Peters in 1911. Eugene J. Bullard (1894–1961) was the only black fighter pilot in World War I, having flown for the French. The first black woman to obtain a license (in 1921) was Bessie Coleman (1892–1926 she too had ...

Primary Source

This biography appears in African American Women Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2011), by Dr. Jeannette Brown.

Article

Owen J. M. Kalinga

physician and president of Malawi from 1964 to 1994, was born in about 1896 at Mphonongo, approximately 18 miles (29 kilometers) east of the headquarters of the present-day Kasungu district. Given the name, Kamunkhwala, denoting the medicine that his mother took to enable conception, Banda attended two local junior elementary schools of the Livingstonia Mission of the Church of Scotland. In 1908, he went to the more established school at Chilanga Mission where, in that year, Dr. George Prentice baptized him as Akim Kamunkhwala Mtunthama Banda. He was to drop all three names and replace them with Hastings Walter (after a Scottish missionary, John Hastings), before finally settling on Hastings Kamuzu Banda, substituting kamuzu (root) for Kamunkhwala.

In 1914 Banda passed three standard exams a mandatory step to continue to the full primary school level the satisfactory completion of which was the highest qualification one could attain ...

Article

Crystal L. Keels

missile engineer, trailblazer, and advocate for social reform, was born in 1924 in Detroit, Michigan to parents Carrie and Chester Banfield. His grandfather Moses was born into slavery and managed to move his family up North. The family moved to Detroit from Dublin, Georgia during the Great Migration and settled in Black Bottom, near the Detroit River. Moses brought his wife, Odessa, who was half Blackfoot Indian, and their five sons and four daughters to live a better life outside of the South.

One of six siblings William Banfield s early interests included a love of learning As a child he was particularly inspired by the story of the black revolutionary Toussaint Louverture in Haiti that he read about in an adventure book Reading was an important part of his life and in grammar school he was chosen to represent his school for his work on ...

Article

South African surgeon who carried out the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant, was born into an impoverished Afrikaner family at Beaufort West, South Africa, on 8 November 1922. His father, the Reverend Adam Hendrik Barnard, was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church for Coloured, or mixed-race, people, and his mother was Maria Elisabeth de Swart. He was educated at Beaufort West High School before training as a doctor at the University of Cape Town’s medical school, where he graduated MB, ChB, in 1945. Having done his internship at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, he worked for a short time as a rural general practitioner in Ceres, in the western Cape, before returning to Cape Town to become senior medical officer at City Hospital and then registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1953 he gained his MD for his dissertation The Treatment of Tuberculosis Meningitis Later ...

Article

Mohammed Hassen Ali

pharmacist, lawyer, and Oromo nationalist and political activist in Ethiopia, was mainly responsible for the formation of the Oromo Liberation Front, which in turn transformed Oromo cultural nationalism to political nationalism. He was born in the region of Wallaga. He lost both his parents while very young, and it was his elder brother, the Reverend Gudina Tumsa, who brought him up and provided him with the best education.

While at Haile Selassie I University, Baro Tumsa immersed himself in student politics as well as risky underground Oromo political activities. From 1964 to 1966 he served as secretary and president of the union of the university students in Addis Ababa It was under his leadership that university students were radicalized and energized More than many of his contemporaries Baro Tumsa realized that the Oromo and other conquered people of southern Ethiopia were landless subjects without rights who were exploited economically ...