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Ayesha Kanji

business executive and leader, was born Ann Marie Brown in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Malcolm R. Brown, a U.S. Postal Service employee, and Bettye Lewis, a manager at the National Security Agency. Fudge attended a series of Catholic schools before matriculating at Simmons College in Boston in 1969. She recalls the riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 as a “hurtful but formative experience … they made me incredibly determined. I wanted to do something that black people hadn't done before” (Dobrzynski). She became involved in student government and civil rights activism at Simmons. During her sophomore year she met Richard Fudge, a graduate student at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. They married in 1971 and had two children. Fudge graduated from Simmons in 1973 with a degree in management. Two of her Simmons professors, Margaret Hennig and Charles Coverdale ...

Article

Jennifer Curry

president and CEO of the NAACP and telecommunications executive, was born in Camden, New Jersey, one of five children of Walter Gordon, a school administrator, and Violet, a teacher. His father cofounded and served as secretary-treasurer of the Camden chapter of the NAACP, and starting at the age of eight, Gordon accompanied his father to meetings. Because both of his parents were educators, he aspired to enter the field as well. Gordon attended Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, where he majored in anthropology and sociology (liberal arts and sociology according to some sources), earning his bachelor's degree in 1968.

After meeting with an on-campus recruiter, Gordon accepted a management-trainee post with the local phone company, Bell of Pennsylvania. Completing the training program in 1970, he signed on as a business office manager and stayed with the company until his retirement. On 20 February 1970 Gordon married Genie Alston ...

Article

Amanda Harmon Cooley

businessperson, corporate executive, and educator. Dennis Fowler Hightower, the son of Marvin W. Hightower and Anna Virginia Hightower, was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in LeDroit Park, a neighborhood in the District of Columbia in which many other prominent African Americans, from Duke Ellington to the Reverend Jesse Jackson, have lived. As a child Hightower spent time at Camp Atwater in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, which was established in 1921 by William N. DeBerry with the mission to help African American children. After graduating from McKinley High School at age sixteen, Hightower continued his studies at Howard University, earning a bachelor of science degree in 1962.

Then Hightower enlisted in the U S Army beginning an eight year military career that included active service in the Vietnam War His leadership advanced him to the rank of major by the age of twenty seven ...

Article

Elizabeth K. Davenport

businesswoman and civil leader, was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Harold “Hal” B. Jackson, a radio personality, and Julia (Hawkins) Jackson, a businesswoman. Her father was a pioneer in the broadcasting industry, whose work in radio and television eventually took the family to New York City.

As a child, Jackson was drawn to the performing arts, especially dance. She studied classical ballet and jazz and was eventually admitted to New York City's High School of the Performing Arts. She continued her dance studies at Bard College from 1961 until 1963. She left the college in 1964 prior to her graduation to get married at age nineteen to Frederick Ward, an advertising copywriter. The marriage ended in divorce in 1967. Jackson McCabe later married Eugene McCabe, president of North General Hospital in New York City, in 1974 That marriage ended in ...

Article

Andre D. Vann

businessman, civic leader, churchman, and author, was born the eldest son of William Jesse Kennedy, a public school principal, and Katie (Riley) Kennedy, a homemaker, in Andersonville, Georgia. He received his public school training under his father, who was the principal of the local school. Later he was educated at Americus Institute in Americus, Georgia, which was under the auspices of the black Southwestern Georgia Baptist Association, and graduated in 1912. He studied law for a year through textbooks and a correspondence course from LaSalle University, and did special work in business administration through a Columbia University extension course, but did not graduate from either institution. He held a number of jobs ranging from carpenter to meat cutter.

Influenced by an uncle who worked in the insurance industry, he began working at Guaranty Mutual Life Insurance Company of Savannah, Georgia, in 1913 ...

Article

Jeannette Elizabeth Brown

chemist and corporate leader, was born in Pavo, Georgia, the second of three daughters of Willie Clark and Ola Watts Campbell. Her mother Ola had a third-grade education, and her father Willie was illiterate. Reatha was raised in Moltrie, Georgia, by her mother and aunt after her parents separated when she was young. She had to pick cotton and do the heavy fieldwork that was the typical life in the 1940s for poor sharecroppers' children. African American girls in the rural segregated South had few role models, but she received strong encouragement from her family and community to use her academic ability to overcome social disadvantages.

Clark started school at the age of four in the one room schoolhouse at Mount Zion Baptist Church Clark attended the segregated Moultrie High School for Negro Youth A teacher there encouraged her love of math and science even though the school ...

Article

Anne K. Driscoll

activist, writer, and author, was born Cleotha Payne Lucas in Spring Hope, near Rocky Mount in eastern North Carolina. One of fourteen children born to James Russell Lucas and Minnie Hendricks, Lucas worked from an early age shining shoes and picking cotton. Activism came early to Lucas, who became a member of the NAACP during his junior year of high school. Lucas became a youth representative and eventually organized a voter registration campaign in Spring Hope, at a time when few African Americans in eastern North Carolina were able to vote.

Following graduation from C. C. Spaulding High School in 1951, Lucas began classes at Maryland State College, now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, in Princess Anne, Maryland. In 1953 Lucas left college and joined the U S Air Force serving as a radio technician for four years and achieving the rank of ...

Article

Theresa A. Hammond

founder of the largest African American-owned certified public accounting firm, was born in Jamaica, West Indies, to Joseph Benjamin, a farmer with a third-grade education, and Edith Maud McCourty, a dressmaker. Mitchell grew up in a rural area in the town of Porus, the oldest of seven children and was the first person in his family to go to high school. He attended Kingston Technical High School and then moved to the United States in 1958 with his family settling in the Bronx Mitchell found a job in an ink factory and soon through a black employment agency he found a bookkeeping position for the Teamsters union downtown near city hall He wanted to further his education so he planned to attend the City College of New York CCNY and take engineering courses at night while working His employer however did not want him to leave ...

Article

Nancy T. Robinson

business executive and social worker, was born Lily Patricia Walker in Little Rock, Arkansas, the daughter of Harriet Ish and Antonio Maceo Walker Sr., an actuary. Both of her parents descended from middle-class families. Her mother, from Little Rock, Arkansas, was the daughter of George Washington Stanley Ish, a physician, whose father, Jefferson Garfield Ish, was a teacher. Shaw's father was the son of Lelia O'Neal Walker, co-founder of the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church and daughter of the former slaves George and Pat Hill Walker of Tillman, Mississippi. Antonio Walker's father was Joseph Edison Walker, a medical school graduate, 1923 founder of the Universal Life Insurance Company in Memphis, Tennessee, and 1946 co-founder of the Tri-State Bank. Antonio Walker succeeded his father as president of Universal Life Insurance Company in 1952. In 1958 Joseph Edison Walker was murdered and Antonio succeeded his ...

Article

Paulette K. Polley-Edmunds

corporate executive, management consultant, attorney, and author, was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Marian Thomas, a social worker from Georgia whose maiden name is unknown, and Albert Thomas, an engineer from South Carolina. The younger of two children, Pamela's older brother, Vincent, became a lawyer and law school associate dean. She grew up with a mother who worked outside the home and a father who supported women developing themselves intellectually and professionally. Albert Thomas maintained the same expectations of performance for both Pamela and her brother. Both parents were strong believers in the principles of obtaining an education and applying oneself. The climate in the Thomas home also held civil rights leaders and lawyers in high esteem, which motivated Pamela and Vincent to dream of becoming lawyers in the tradition of Thurgood Marshall Pamela loved to read and she excelled in her ...