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Louis M. Abbey

periodontist, public health specialist, and educator, was born Clifton Orin Dummett in Georgetown, British Guiana (later Guyana), the youngest of four children of Eglantine Annabella Johnson, a homemaker, and Alexander Adolphus Dummett, a pharmacist and registered dentist. Clifton attended St. Phillips Elementary School from 1924 until 1930 and Queen's College high school from 1930 until 1936, both in Georgetown, British Guiana. His values were strongly influenced by his father, mother, and uncle, Reginald Johnson, an Edinburgh-trained public health physician in Georgetown. “I came from a family that believed in the equality of man. I respected all peoples and demanded similar respect from those with whom I came in contact” (personal communication with the author).

Right after high school, in 1936 Alexander Adolphus Dummett obtained a student visa for his son to study in the United States at Howard University in Washington D ...

Article

Françoise Vergès

writer, psychiatrist, and activist, was born on 20 July 1925 at Fort de France Martinique at the time a French colony The descendant of a slave of African origins Fanon was the fifth of eight children His parents who were of mixed heritage belonged to the urban middle class His father Félix Casimir Fanon worked in the French customs Eléanore Médélice his mother was a shopkeeper She was very proud of her Alsatian roots on an island where the hierarchy of color was very strong Both parents discouraged their children from speaking Creole and encouraged them to integrate into French culture Fanon studied at the elitist Lycée Schoelcher where he had Aimé Césaire as one of his teachers At eighteen Fanon joined the Free French army and was sent for army training to Algeria Fanon became disillusioned with the cause of freeing Europe from Nazism and wrote to his ...

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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 ...

Article

Leila Kamali

Historian, editor, and political activist born on 10 December 1921 near Johannesburg, the child of Latvian Jews. Hirson was educated at Hebrew school in Johannesburg, and studied mathematics at the University of Witwatersrand, where he later worked as a physicist. In 1940 he joined the left‐wing Hashomer Hatzair, subsequently becoming a member of various Trotskyist groups. Between 1944 and 1946 he was a political organizer for the Workers' International League.

Hirson participated in setting up black trade unions, in extremely difficult conditions created by the Suppression of Communism Act. He became involved in the Non‐European Unity Movement, and in the late 1950s joined the Congress of Democrats, the white arm of the ANC‐led Congress Alliance.

After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 Hirson and his colleagues highly critical of the Congress Alliance s leadership and policies organized the National Committee for Liberation which advocated sabotage as a substitute for peaceful ...

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Darshell Silva

(also known as Cromwell Ashbie Hawkins West, Carlos Ashbie Hawk Westez, Ashbie Hawkins West, and Namo S. Hatirire) activist, linguist, storyteller, performer, and shaman, was born in Newport, Rhode Island. There are varying accounts of Red Thunder Cloud's parentage and upbringing. According to his own account, he was born Carlos Ashibie Hawk Westez. As a young boy, he was brought up among the Narragansett Indians of Rhode Island by his Catawba mother, Roberta Hawk Westez, and his Honduran father, Carlos Panchito Westez. He is believed to have lived among the Shinnecock Indians of Long Island in the late 1930s. His actual home during much of this time was said to be on the Catawba Reservation in South Carolina, but he traveled extensively, visiting many Indian groups. This account of his early life has been challenged by Smithsonian anthropologist and ethnologist Ives Goddard who claimed ...

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Yolanda L. Watson Spiva

educator, Africanist, and anthropologist, was born Gloria Albertha Marshall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; nothing is known of her parents. She attended Dillard Elementary School and Dillard High School. A student of high academic prowess and promise, she skipped grade levels because of her exceptional ability and mastery of her school work and was classified as a high school junior at the age of fourteen. At fifteen she was offered and accepted early admission to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, on a Ford Foundation Early Entrant Scholarship. In 1955, while a student at Fisk, Gloria attended Oberlin College as part of an academic exchange program and was exposed to an educational setting that she perceived to be a better fit for her academic interests. Consequently she transferred from Fisk to Oberlin to complete her undergraduate degree.

Sudarkasa received her bachelor s degree in Anthropology and English ...

Article

George Baca

anthropologist, was born Council Samuel Taylor in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Walter Knight Taylor and Odelle Grace Robinson Taylor. “Count,” as his intimates called him, was dynamic, tall, a stylish dresser, and a great storyteller, using his deep voice for dramatic effect. Colleagues, students, and teachers remembered him adorned with a French beret, ascot, and an ornate walking stick.

Taylor passed as a white man during the 1940s. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the marines—well before President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the U S Armed Forces where he saw combat duty with the Air Delivery Squadron and Aviation Supply during World War II A most striking feature of his biography is that as a gay black man Taylor served as a platoon sergeant in aviation supply in several locations in the South Pacific and near China during the war ...

Article

Joy Elizondo

The child of a washerwoman and a musician, José Manuel Valdés was born in Lima, Peru's capital city, when nearly half its population was black. Though his parents could not afford to educate him, his godparents and mother's employers stepped in, seeing to his early education at a prominent religious school. He would later become the first black writer to publish in Peru, both as a doctor and as a poet, as early as 1791.

After completing school, Valdés yearned to become a priest, but during the colonial period blacks were denied access to the priesthood by the Catholic Church, and he turned instead to medicine. He could have prospered as a romancista, a type of medical practitioner that required little training and was restricted to “external remedies.” In 1788 he took the more challenging route and pursued the title of latinista surgeon for ...

Article

Yvonne Captain

Manuel Zapata Olivella's frequent use of the word “mulatto” (a person of both African and European descent) to describe his background suggests a biological union as much as a cultural mixture. Focusing less on phenotype and more on what the Afro-Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén would term cultural mulatez, or the mixing of cultures that characterizes the Caribbean, Zapata Olivella explores what unites peoples rather than what separates them. Through his acclaimed works of fiction as well as scholarly studies and public service, Zapata Olivella has significantly advanced the understanding of the contribution of African culture to the world. Together with Nancy Morejón and Quince Duncan he is one of the twentieth century's most admired Afro-Hispanic writers.

Born in the small town of Lorica on the western Caribbean coast of Colombia to parents of African descent, Zapata Olivella used the area's rich folklore in his first novel, Tierra mojada ...