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Charles L. Hughes

record executive, producer, and activist, was born Alvertis Isbell in Brinkley, Arkansas, in 1940 or 1941. In 1945 his family moved to Little Rock, where Bell later graduated with a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the city's Philander Smith College, following this with uncompleted ministerial training; he worked as a disc jockey throughout high school and college. In 1959 Bell began working at workshops run by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His SCLC involvement was short-lived, which Bell attributed to a difference in philosophy, explaining that King's strategy of nonviolent confrontation differed from his belief in the power of black capitalist entrepreneurship in effecting social change.

Bell then worked full time at several radio stations first at WLOK in Memphis where his laid back style helped boost ratings and then at WUST in Washington D C where he introduced ...

Article

Malinda Williams

poet, short story writer, mythologist, and folklorist, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to Cornelius A. Bennett, a baker, and Kerene Robinson Bennett, a seamstress. Bennett's father died when she was just seven years old, leaving her mother to support the family. Bennett received a typical colonial education at St. Simon's College (1933–1936) and Excelsior High School (1936–1938), which greatly influenced her later interest in elevating and legitimizing traditional Jamaican culture. Though in high school Bennett began writing poetry in English, she later switched to writing in West Indian English, which linguists would eventually come to recognize as a language rather than just a dialect.

Bennett also began performing versions of her poems to audiences in high school and her success caught the attention of Eric Coverley who would later become Bennett s husband Coverley a draftsman and impresario organized a popular Christmas concert ...

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Roanne Edwards

Best known for his weekly Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television show Tony Brown's Journal, Tony Brown has become a controversial figure in the landscape of American race relations. Although once active in the Civil Rights Movement, he has criticized present-day black activists for prioritizing civil rights at the expense of black business initiatives and education programs in computer technologies. He advocates black economic self-sufficiency and has consistently opposed welfare as well as Affirmative Action policies that he believes mainly benefit middle-class blacks. “If America were capitalist,” said Brown in an interview with Matthew Robinson of Business Daily, “it could not be racist. Racism is flourishing because we are awash in socialistic controls.”

Born in Charleston, West Virginia, Brown was reared by two domestic workers, Elizabeth Sanford and Mabel Holmes who informally adopted him at the age of two months after his father deserted the family ...

Article

Patit Paban Mishra

academician, businessperson, author, talk-show host, and journalist. The fifth son of Royal Brown and Katherine Davis Brown, William Anthony Brown was born in Charleston, West Virginia. The marriage of his parents broke down in the racist environment of Charleston. His father was a light-skinned person, whereas his mother was of dark color. For several years he was raised by a foster family, Elizabeth Sanford and Mabel Holmes, before he was reunited with his mother and three siblings. Brown had a turbulent childhood, but by sheer determination, perseverance, and hard work along with the support of his foster parents and several school teachers, he rose in life—primarily through education. After high school he attended Wayne State University in Detroit, where he earned a BA in sociology (1959) and an MSW in psychiatric social work (1961).

After graduation Brown obtained a ...

Article

Samuel A. Hay

writer, actor, and director, was born in Cogdell, Georgia, the oldest of four children of Kince Charles Davis, an herb doctor and Bible scholar, and Laura Cooper. Ossie's mother intended to name him “R.C.,” after his paternal grandfather, Raiford Chatman Davis, but when the clerk at Clinch County courthouse thought she said “Ossie,” Laura did not argue with him, because he was white.

Ossie was attacked and humiliated while in high school by two white policemen, who took him to their precinct and doused him with cane syrup. Laughing, they gave the teenager several hunks of peanut brittle and released him. He never reported the incident but its memory contributed to his sensibilities and politics. In 1934 Ossie graduated from Center High School in Waycross Georgia and even though he received scholarships to attend Savannah State College and Tuskegee Institute he did ...

Article

Sharon D. Johnson

writer and television executive, was born Shirley Anne Morris Taylor in Stratford, Connecticut, the third of four children of Julian Augustus Taylor, a minister, and Margaret (Morris) Taylor. Her mother named her Shirley, after the child star Shirley Temple. Much of her mother's life as a black woman abandoned by her family who chose to “pass” as white has been chronicled and published by Haizlip. She revealed in her first book, The Sweeter the Juice: A Family Memoir in Black and White (1994), that she was eight years old when she “first understood that all but one of my mother's family had become white” (13). Haizlip's entire writing career has been dedicated to the examination of the complexities of race and identity in America, as experienced through her own family life and history.

Haizlip considered her childhood to be idyllic and her comfortably upper middle ...

Article

Elizabeth Okigbo

journalist, television news correspondent, and author, was born in Queens, New York, the fifth child of Eleanor Ifill, a homemaker, and O. Urcille Ifill Sr., an African Methodist Episcopal minister. Due to her father's occupation, Ifill grew up with a strong religious background and moved around often in the northeastern United States. Both of her parents emigrated to the United States, her mother from Barbados and her father from Panama. Ifill went to high school in Buffalo, New York. In the Washington Post, Ifill commented to Howard Kurtz We were very conscious of the fact that we didn t have any money I make more money in a week than my father made in a year Ifill s love of journalism was fueled at an early age by her parents who would insist that their children gather around the television nightly watching the ...

Article

Elisabeth Bekers

Kenyan radio and television broadcaster and producer, public relations specialist, educator, farmer, writer, and politician, was born at Kahuhia Mission, in Fort Hall (now Murang’a) District, the daughter of Gikuyu Christian pioneers, Mariuma Wanjiura and Levi Gachanja Mgumba. Likimani’s father was one of the first Kenyan Anglican Church ministers and helped develop St. John Kahuhia Church and Mission (established in 1906). A successful commercial farmer, the Reverend Gachanja was able to provide well for Muthoni and her eight surviving siblings. Likimani was educated at Kahuhia Girls School and at the Government African Girls Teachers College, Lower Kabete.

After her graduation she briefly worked as a tutor at her old school in Kahuhia but moved to Nairobi soon after marrying Dr Jason Clement Likimani d 1989 A Masai and a fellow student of her eldest brother s at Makerere College in Kampala Uganda in the 1930s Dr Likimani was the first ...

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Pamela Lee Gray

journalist and social commentator, was born in Valdosta, Georgia, to parents whose names and occupations are now unknown. It is known that Lomax was an only child, and attended local schools. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1942 from Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, an MA from American University in Washington, D.C., in 1944, and a PhD in Philosophy from Yale in 1947. After working briefly as an assistant professor of philosophy at Georgia State College, Lomax wrote freelance articles, including several for Chicago'sDaily News. Although Lomax denied that he had a criminal record, FBI reports showed that he was incarcerated from 1949 to 1954 in Joliet Prison in Illinois for selling a rented car. He was paroled on 28 September 1954 and returned to Chicago to work as a lecturer at writers' workshops, as a reporter for a local nightclub magazine called Club Chatter ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

journalist, writer, and television producer was born in Washington, DC. His family moved to Lanham, Maryland, when his childhood home in Northeast Washington was destroyed by fire. He had two sisters and a brother. The professions and names of his parents are unknown.

One of his sisters, Gloria Johnson, told the Washington Post that Mills “had a knack for writing that was noticed very early … [she] recalled that when Mills, then 10, and her son, then 5, played with G. I. Joe toys, Mills wrote their dialogue on 3-by-5 cards” (De Moraes and Trescott).

Mills went on to earn a four-year scholarship to the University of Maryland, College Park, where he met his future collaborator and producer of the popular HBO series, The Wire, David Simon. Mills and Simon met at the student newspaper, the Diamondback When Mills graduated from college ...

Article

Robbie Clark

The multitalented Della Reese is one of the most treasured and well-respected entertainers of our time. Born Deloreese Patricia Early, she discovered her own singing talents as early as the age of six, singing hymns and gospel songs from the bathroom window of her family’s third-floor apartment in Detroit, Michigan. Radio listeners heard her voice over the airways across Detroit when the six-year-old sang as a soloist with the Olivet Baptist Church choir. It was then that family, friends, and neighbors unmistakably recognized her as their very own child prodigy. Her aspirations grew over the years to include writing, acting, and teaching, as well as singing.

Della Reese was born in Detroit. Her father, Richard Thad Early, an African American, was a steelworker. Her mother, Nellie Early was a Cherokee Indian and worked as a housekeeper She had five half siblings When she was thirteen years old ...

Article

Karen Beasley Young

television and radio personality, political commentator, author, and social advocate, was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, the eldest of ten children, four of whom were adopted, to Emory G. Smiley, a noncommissioned officer in the United States Air Force, and Joyce M. Smiley, a missionary and apostolic Pentecostal minister. Smiley grew up in the Kokomo, Indiana, area and attended Indiana University in Bloomington. He was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and graduated in 1986 with a degree in law and public policy. While he was at Indiana University, a close friend of Smiley's was killed by local police, who claimed to have done so in self-defense. This act of violence changed the course of Smiley's life, and he began to lead protests against the police in defense of his friend, which set Smiley on a path of social advocacy.

During Smiley s ...