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Article

On June 12 1993, the popular businessman Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola won a long-awaited presidential election in Nigeria, only to have the country's military leader, Ibrahim Babangida, annul the election results. When Abiola declared himself the country's legitimate leader a year later, Babangida's successor, General Sani Abacha, jailed him for treason. As a political prisoner, Abiola became the rallying symbol for Nigerians’ democratic aspirations.

Abiola was born into a poor, polygamous household of Yoruba-speaking Muslims in the ancient town of Abeokuta None of his parents first twenty two children had survived past infancy so Abiola the twenty third was given the middle name Kashimawo meaning Let s see if he will survive He began his education at the Islamic Nawar Ud Deen School and then transferred to the Christian run African Central School As an indigent student at the Baptist Boys High School Abiola ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

The roots of Americo-Liberian society can be traced to modern Liberia's settlement by free American blacks. From their arrival on the coast of West Africa in 1821, the settlers and their sponsors at the American Colonization Society (ACS), a white abolitionist group, had a complex relationship with the people who were already living there. The settlers brought with them American social, political, and economic values (as expressed in the first constitution of the Commonwealth, later the Republic, of Liberia). They were also strongly influenced by the ACS's ties to the Christian missionary movement. The motives of both white abolitionists and African American colonizers were challenged by critics such as the nineteenth-century African American writer Martin Delany, who charged that the ACS, in “deporting” free blacks, was helping to sustain the practice of Slavery in the United States Furthermore these critics noted the black settlers were establishing a ...

Article

Liliana Obregón

Albuino Azaredo was elected governor of Brazil's state of Espírito Santo (1991–1995). An Afro-Brazilian engineer and successful businessman, Albuino, along with Alceu Collares of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, became one of the first black governors to be elected in Brazil.

Azeredo ran for governor of Espírito Santo as a member of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT). Election patterns have not indicated that voters in Brazil vote along racial lines, but the PDT has an active and militant tradition of speaking about racial issues as part of its political platform. In 1982, for example, its electoral campaign emphasized its commitment to the black population. In addition, influential black leaders have been prominent members of the PDT, including famous black activist Abdias do Nasciamento.

Espírito Santo's Afro-Brazilian population makes up around half of the state's voters. Azeredo did not base his 1991 campaign ...

Article

The triangular shipping route of the slave trade largely formed the banking industry in England. British goods such as textiles, arms, and iron were exchanged for slaves in Africa, which were then transported to the West Indies and traded for sugar, tobacco, cotton, spices, and rum. The triangular trade was a system of immense earnings, as every ship sailed with a profitable cargo. The wealth generated by the triangular trade brought increased affluence to the planters who cultivated the West Indian produce, the merchant capitalists who sold the slaves, and the industrial capitalists who produced the British goods, which in turn demanded new banking facilities and functions.

Primary of these new requirements was insurance Shipowners and slave merchants themselves insured early voyages travelling the triangular trade route However the increasing amount of bills drawn against West Indian merchants and accumulated wealth soon required large scale insurance schemes most often drawn ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Born in Washington, D.C., Ron Brown grew up in Harlem, New York. He graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1962, after becoming the first black student to pledge a fraternity there. He enlisted in the United States Army. After his service, Brown worked for the National Urban League in New York while earning his law degree at night from St. John's University in 1970. He held several positions in the Urban League from 1968 to 1979, including general counsel, chief Washington spokesperson, deputy executive director, and vice president of Washington operations.

In Washington, D.C., Brown became active in the Democratic Party, and in 1979 he served as deputy manager of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy's presidential campaign. A year later Kennedy appointed him the chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 1982 Brown resigned from the senate committee to become deputy ...

Article

Lorraine Anastasia Lezama

Though born in Grenada, Tubal Uriah Butler would eventually develop his career as a labor organizer and politician in Trinidad. In Grenada, Butler was affiliated with the Grenada Representative Government Movement, and served as a volunteer in the first contingent of the West Indies during World War I. In 1921 he migrated to Trinidad, where he settled in Fyzabad, a southern industrial town populated by workers from the dominant petroleum industry. He held a variety of positions in the oilfields—pipe fitter, rig man, and pump man—until 1929, when he was seriously injured.

Butler was a charismatic speaker, and he quickly became influential in the Trinidad Labour Party (TLP), an organization committed to expanding the voting franchise and to lobbying for constitutional change. His ascent was matched by his growing disillusionment with the TLP and its leader, Captain Arthur Andrew Cipriani Butler believed that the TLP was both ...

Article

Ntewusu Aniegye

Ghanaian lawyer, diplomat, politician, was born on 7 December 1950 in Bimbilla in the Northern Region of Ghana. His father, Alhaji Alhassan Chambas, was a district commissioner in Kwame Nkrumah’s government from the 1950s to mid-1960s. He was educated at Mfantispim School, Cape Coast (the former Wesleyan High School whose alumni include John Mensah Sarbah, Dr. K. A. Busia, and Kofi Annan), and Tamale Secondary School, Tamale. He is a graduate from the University of Ghana, where he read political science, obtaining his BA in 1973. He then travelled to the United States, where he obtained his MA and PhD degrees at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, in 1977 and 1980, respectively. He later earned a law degree from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

Having briefly taught and practiced law in America he returned to Ghana where he became a school administrator He later joined the military ...

Article

Shantel Agnew

lawyer, businessman, and one of the first African American chief executive officers (CEO) of a Fortune 500 company. Chenault was born on Long Island, New York. His father, Hortenius Chenault, was a dentist, and his mother, Anne Chenault, was a dental hygienist. Kenneth Chenault graduated with numerous honors from Waldorf High School, a private school in Garden City, New York. He completed one year at Springfield College before transferring to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. There he earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1973. He earned a JD from Harvard Law School in 1976.

After he graduated from Harvard, Chenault was hired as an associate by the law firm Rogers and Wells in New York City. In 1979 he worked as a management consultant for Bain and Company despite not having a master s degree in business administration Chenault passed the Massachusetts bar ...

Article

Richard Sobel

lawyer and corporate leader, was born in Mineola, New York, to Hortenius Chenault, a dentist and a Morehouse and Howard University graduate, and Anne N. Quick, a dental hygienist and Howard alumna. The second of three brothers and one sister, Ken grew up in middle-class, mostly white Hempstead, Long Island, and attended the innovative, private Waldorf School in Garden City through twelfth grade. Although both his parents had graduated top in their classes, Kenneth was at first a middling student. He improved academically and became class president and captain of the track and basketball teams. He also avidly read biographies of famous people, including Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Winston Churchill.

Starting Springfield College on an athletic scholarship he transferred under the mentorship of Waldorf s Peter Curran to Bowdoin College in Maine There he joined two dozen black pioneers at the ...

Article

Winifred W. Thompson

Anita L. DeFrantz is one of the most influential people in sports in the early twenty-first century. She became involved in the Olympic field as a competitor when she won a bronze medal on the U.S. women’s eight-oared shell at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. She was the first woman to represent the United States on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1986 and, in 1997, she became the first woman, as well as the first African American, to be vice president of the IOC. DeFrantz has worked on the Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta Olympic Games as a member of the United States Olympic Executive Committee.

DeFrantz was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Robert and Anita P. DeFrantz Her father directed the Community Action against Poverty organization her mother taught and eventually became a professor of Education at the University of San Francisco DeFrantz s ...

Article

Born in Mississippi, Earl Burris Dickerson moved as a teenager to Chicago, Illinois, where he attended Evanston Academy, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois, from which he earned a B.A. degree. He served in the United States Army as a low-ranking officer during World War I (1914–1918), then returned to Illinois and took a degree in law from the University of Chicago in 1920. Dickerson was the law school's first African American graduate. The following year he became counsel for a new black-owned insurance company, Liberty Life; he continued his association with the company, later called Supreme Life, for five decades.

Dickerson soon became active in the Democratic Party and was rewarded with an appointment in 1923 as an assistant corporation counsel for Chicago. By 1933 he was an assistant attorney general for Illinois, and in 1939 he became Chicago s first black Democratic ...

Article

Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, William H. Gray III was the son of William H. Gray Jr., a Baptist minister and president of two Florida colleges, and Hazel Yates Gray, a high school teacher. In 1949 his father became the pastor of the large and powerful Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and moved the family north. In 1963 Gray graduated from Franklin and Marshall College and became an assistant pastor in Montclair, New Jersey. He earned a master of divinity degree from Drew Theological School in 1966, became senior minister at his church the same year, and earned a degree in theology from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1970 As a minister Gray tried to help his poor parishioners by promoting fair housing programs He also set an important precedent by successfully suing a landlord who refused to rent an apartment to him ...

Article

Idaho  

Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor

From the outset, Idaho Territory drew small numbers of African American fur traders and miners. Attracted by quick riches in the mines or services to the miners, many were transients. Beginning in the late 1800s, black Mormon homesteaders acquired land under the Desert Land Act of 1877 and settled along the state's southeastern border. Some descendants remained in the state in the twenty-first century. Black cowboys and ranch hands worked in the ranch country of Owyhee County. Buffalo soldiers from the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Infantry policed mining labor troubles near Coeur d'Alene in 1892 and 1899. In 1910 the Twenty-fifth Infantry returned to fight wildfires near Avery, where they provided protection to those fleeing the flames. Still, the black population remained less than one thousand until 1950.

A few black farmers homesteaded successfully in scattered isolated areas Others chose small towns where they found work and achieved partial ...

Article

Alexis D. McCoy

lawyer, civil rights activist, and political powerbroker. In his lifetime Jordan has assumed many roles, the most famous being adviser to President Bill Clinton. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr. was the second of three sons of Vernon Eulion Jordan, a postal clerk, and Mary Griggs Jordan, a successful caterer. The family lived in public housing until they purchased a house when Vernon was thirteen. Jordan graduated from David T. Howard High School with honors in 1953. After graduation he attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, one of five blacks in the entire student body. Graduating from DePauw in 1957 with a BA, Jordan attended Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C., graduating with his law degree in 1960.

While at Howard Law, Jordan met and married Shirley Yarbrough on 13 December 1958 The couple returned to Georgia where ...

Article

One of the most powerful, well-connected lawyers in the United States, Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr. has had a long, sometimes contradictory career. Few civil rights spokespeople of his generation have attained the kind of corporate and political influence Jordan has, an achievement that was enhanced by his position as a top adviser to and close friend of President Bill Clinton. Yet some critics charged that the former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) field secretary and Urban League president lost touch with his original goals: to improve the economic lives of African Americans.

Jordan was born in Atlanta, Georgia The middle son of a postal clerk and his wife a caterer he was deeply influenced by his mother s drive and business sense As a child he sometimes accompanied her to catering jobs where he observed Atlanta s white establishment especially the Lawyer s Club ...

Article

Zinga A. Fraser

politician. Barbara Lee was born in El Paso, Texas. Her introduction to politics occurred well before she entered the halls of Congress. Influenced by the student movement of the 1970s and her connection to Oakland's Black Panther Party, Lee began to question the political and economic disfranchisement of people of color and women. Lee's political journey began after hearing a speech at Mills College by the former congresswoman Shirley Chisholm from New York (the first African American woman elected to Congress and the first woman to run for president). As a recently divorced and single mother of two boys, Lee served as a volunteer for Chisholm's 1972 presidential campaign. Upon her graduation from Mills College in 1973, Lee landed an internship in Washington, D.C., for Congressman Ronald V. Dellums who represented California s Ninth District Dellums would eventually serve as Lee s political mentor and adviser After ...

Article

William Arthur Lewis was the first black person to receive the Nobel Prize in a category other than peace. He once described his intellectual career as consisting of three phases: the history of world economics and development, industrial economics, and the economic problems of underdeveloped nations. In his Nobel lecture, he suggested that the least developed countries should concentrate on increasing their regional trade rather than being heavily dependent on the continued growth of the most developed countries. He believed that in this way, underdeveloped nations could eventually accelerate their own economies even as growth in the more technologically advantaged nations slackened.

Lewis wanted to study engineering but decided it would be pointless since, at that time, neither the government nor white firms would hire a black engineer. A brilliant student, he received a bachelor of commerce degree with honors from Saint Mary's College in Saint Lucia (1929 ...

Article

Kissette Bundy

lawyer and arbitrageur who was the first African American to own a Fortune 500 business. Reginald Francis Lewis was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Clinton Lewis, a restaurateur, and Carolyn Cooper Lewis, who was seventeen at the time of her son's birth. Lewis and his mother lived with his grandparents, Sue and Sam Cooper, after his parents divorced. The Cooper clan resided in the segregated working-class neighborhood of East Baltimore. Reginald's grandfather held several service positions, while his wife raised their eight children and two of her nieces and labored as a domestic. The values of family, work ethic, and enjoyment of the finer things in life would balance Lewis's bullish rise to the financial elite.

In 1951, Reginald's mother married Jean S. Fugett Sr. an army soldier who purchased the family home in West Baltimore through the GI Bill Lewis soon had five brothers ...

Article

Although he disliked the term, Reginald Lewis was often called the “Jackie Robinson of Wall Street” and was considered “the man who broke the color barrier in large-scale mergers and acquisitions and leveraged buyouts.” In 1987, with his firm TLC, Lewis orchestrated the largest offshore leveraged buyout in business history, paying $985 million for Beatrice International Foods. With subsidiaries on almost every continent, the renamed TLC-Beatrice International became the largest black-owned firm in the United States, and TLC's acquisition of Beatrice Foods made Lewis one of the most prominent African American businessmen.

Lewis was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His parents separated when he was nine, but he grew up in a supportive, middle-class atmosphere in Baltimore. By the age of ten, Lewis had gotten a job delivering the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper and he stored the money he earned in a tin can he labeled Reggie s ...

Article

Saul Engelbourg

Lewis, Reginald Francis (07 December 1942–18 January 1993), arbitrager and business executive, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Clinton Lewis, a skilled worker and small businessman, and Carolyn Cooper. Lewis was strongly influenced by his mother, especially since his African-American parents divorced during his childhood. His mother married Jean S. Fugett, Sr., in 1951. An elementary school teacher, he was a graduate of Morgan State College and had five sons and daughters.

Lewis attended a Catholic grade school but was not admitted to a Catholic high school because of low test scores and discrimination against blacks Instead he attended the black Paul Laurence Dunbar public high school where he starred in three sports football baseball and basketball Academically below the median because of his weakness in the sciences Lewis received a football scholarship from Virginia State College in Petersburg Virginia a black public institution After ...