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Sônia Beatriz dos Santos

was born on 27 March 1953 in the city of Porto Alegre, state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Bairros’s interest in political issues began when she was in school. In 1979 she adopted the city of Salvador, state of Bahia, as her main residence; it was in this city that she began to participate in the Unified Black Movement (Movimento Negro Unificado, MNU); she remained involved in this organization until 1994.

She began her activism in the women’s movement in 1981 within the Women’s Group of the MNU. Bairros was a vocal member of this group, and she participated in the main initiatives of the black movement in Bahia and Brazil. In 1991 she was elected the first national coordinator of the MNU.

In 1994 Luiza Bairros joined the Labor and Social Action Secretariat of the State of Bahia managing support for independent workers programs and participating in ...


Kristal Brent Zook

journalist and historian of the early West, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the eldest of five children of Daniel Beasley, an engineer, and Margaret (Heines) Beasley, a homemaker. Although little is known about her childhood, at the age of twelve Beasley published her first writings in the black-owned newspaper, the Cleveland Gazette. By the time she was fifteen she was working as a columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, becoming the first African American woman to write for a mainstream newspaper on a regular basis.

Beasley lost both parents as a teenager and was forced to take a full-time job working as a domestic laborer for the family of a white judge named Hagan. Her career then took several unusual turns as Beasley, who was described by biographer Lorraine Crouchett as short well proportioned and speaking in a shrill light voice perhaps because of a chronic hearing ...


Ross Michael Nedervelt

was born in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, to Alphonso Christian, a judge, and his wife, Ruth. She was raised in an unconventional family, as her parents held academic learning in high esteem. Her father believed that all six of his children should receive an equal education, regardless of the patriarchal social norms discouraging women from further education. Encouraged by her father, she became an accomplished student and avid reader. Yet, as she read through numerous books, she became quite concerned by the absence of Caribbean and African American women within the stories. At the age of 15, she traveled to the United States for the first time. She enrolled in Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 1963 Her parents pressed her to go on to medical school and become a doctor but Christian decided to pursue her emerging passion for literature and ...


Erica Lorraine Williams

also known as Rosa Ynés Curiel Pichardo, was born on 15 March 1963 in the city of Santiago in the central region of the Dominican Republic. She grew up in a household with her parents, two sisters (Maky and Marta), and younger brother (Culkin). Her mother, Carmen Pichardo Garcia, and father, Manuel Joaquin Marmolejo, were both teachers, with her father specializing in music. Consequently, education and music were the central pillars of her family life, and her childhood home was always full of music. Even today, when she is reunited with her siblings, they play music together. Her extended family was also a significant part of her childhood, particularly her grandmother Elena and her aunts Mariana and Asunción.

Curiel went to primary and secondary school at the Instituto Politécnico Femenino Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, a school run by nuns from the Hijas de Jesus congregation (1968–1980 Despite ...


Michelle Gueraldi

Lélia de Almeida Gonzales obtained several academic degrees, including a bachelor's degree in history and philosophy at the Rio de Janeiro State University, a master's degree in communications at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and a doctorate in social anthropology at the University of São Paulo. She also directed the Department of Sociology at Rio de Janeiro Catholic University.

Gonzales figured prominently in post-1950s intellectual life in Brazil. She was one of the first black women to teach at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and in 1978 was one of the founders of the Movimento Negro Unificado (Unified Black Movement). In 1979 Gonzales was also one of the founders of the Working Group on Themes and Problems of the Black Population in Brazil at Candido Mendes University in Rio de Janeiro The group has produced various unique essays on Afro Brazilian issues A strong ...


Olivia A. Scriven

feminist scholar, historian, physicist, engineer, and advocate for minorities and women in science, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the oldest of two girls of William Emmett Hammonds, a postal worker, and Evelyn Marie Hammonds, a reading specialist and elementary school teacher. At age nine, Hammonds's father gave his daughter a chemistry set. For Hammonds, the chemistry set, along with later gifts of a microscope, and building sets, sparked an interest in science that would be encouraged by both parents. The events also set her on a path that would force her to think more critically about her own identity and the struggles and contributions of blacks and women in science.

Growing up in Atlanta, Hammonds attended all-black public elementary schools. This would change in 1967 when as a fourteen year old ninth grade student she was bused to a predominately white school ...


Nicole Sealey

intellectual, feminist, educator, cultural critic, social activist, and poet, was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to Veodis Watkins, a custodian, and Rosa Bell Watkins, a housekeeper. One of seven children, hooks grew up in a poor family in which poetry was a well-respected art form. On stormy nights the Watkins family would host talent shows in their living room. As a youth, hooks would recite poems by such authors as Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson. By the age of ten, hooks was already writing and reading her own work.

Hooks attended Booker T. Washington Elementary, a segregated black school. Her teachers, mostly single black women, nurtured and fostered her young mind. With the integration of public schools in the 1960s, however, black students were bused to white schools. Hooks soon learned that the white teachers at Crispus Attucks ...


Roanne Edwards

Cited in Booklist as a “formidable feminist social and cultural critic,” bell hooks is widely known for her pioneering and provocative scholarship on racism and sexism in the United States. A prolific essayist and the author of nearly twenty books, she has written on a range of issues, including feminist politics and the representation of race in Film, Television, and advertising.

In a 1995 interview with Carl Posey of Essence magazine, hooks affirmed that “fundamentally, my life is committed to revolutionary Black liberation struggle, and I don't ever see Black liberation and feminism as being separate.” She has criticized both white, middle-class feminists and black liberation activists for neglecting women of color, and has encouraged African American women to “claim a critique of sexism” based on the black experience. Seeing class divisions among blacks as a principal obstacle to racial justice, she wrote, in her 1996 book Killing Rage ...


Frances B. Henderson

Born in 1952, Gloria Watkins later changed her name to bell hooks. Raised in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, by working-class parents (her mother was a homemaker and her father a custodian), hooks is one of six children and an advocate of antiracist, antisexist, and anticapitalist “policies” (Daughters of Africa). hooks identified the struggles and the volatile relationship she witnessed between her parents during her childhood as products of American patriarchy and racism. This early view of relationships was a factor that influenced her perspective and writing on love and relationships, perspectives that she articulated in her later works such as Salvation: Black People and Love (2001) and Communion: The Female Search for Love (2002).

hooks s school experience also was saturated by the challenges of living in rural Kentucky an area facing the same issues around race and gender that American society at large faced ...


Deborah G. Chay

With her first two books, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (1981) and Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (1984 bell hooks born Gloria Watkins joined a generation of black feminists whose political perspective was explicitly forged in a consciousness of their marginality to the Black Power civil rights movement and feminist movement of the 1960s Unlike some of her contemporaries hooks did not feel that black women s double oppression warranted advocating a separate black feminist agenda but instead saw black women s special historical situation as relevant both for a feminist movement that had stumbled over its implicit class and race biases and for a black liberation movement that remained committed to the patriarchal values of the racist society it denounced Challenging feminist and antiracist movements to become accountable for the lives and experiences of black women hooks envisioned black feminism as ...


Amy Grant

The intrepid bell hooks has been one of America’s premier social critics, although often incorrectly categorized as merely a black feminist. It would be more accurate to characterize her as a public intellectual engaged in the arts of literary, film, and popular cultural criticism and committed to the struggle against racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. Many of her writings, interviews, and public speeches identified these dominant discourses as serious impediments designed to inhibit people from realizing a fuller understanding of themselves and their fellow human beings. Hooks sought to dismantle these dominant political discourses by exposing their use in art, literature, and film. Meanwhile, hooks encouraged those most damaged by these ideas, such as black women, to join this struggle, believing strongly that the elevation of black womanhood will result in the liberation of blacks and American society itself.

Bell hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky ...


Stephanie Y. Evans

feminist theorist and author. Born Gloria Jean Watkins in 1952 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, bell hooks was raised in the segregated South and was aware of racial, gender, and economic discrimination at an early age. Defying the odds, she earned a BA in 1973 from Stanford University in English, an MA in 1976 from the University of Wisconsin, and a PhD in 1983 from the University of California, Santa Cruz. hooks's dissertation explored the ideas of Toni Morrison.

hooks began writing her first book, Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, when she was nineteen years old, and, after much revision, it was published in 1981 Since then her writing has explored themes including the experience of growing up black and female in America the creation of feminist ideals by which to evaluate culture observations on interracial relationships and race relations and discussions of love and spirituality ...


miriam cooke

Moroccan sociologist and activist on behalf of Muslim women’s rights, was born in Fez and studied at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, before obtaining her PhD in sociology from Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Mernissi was one of the earliest exponents of second-wave Islamic feminism. She writes in French, Arabic, and English; and her books have been translated into over twenty languages. Most of her writings consist of unorthodox reinterpretations of the past seen through the lens of gender justice. Her pioneering Beyond the Veil: Male–Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society, published in 1975 and calling for religious reform in sexual ideology, gender relations, and expectations, launched a widespread movement in Muslim societies protesting the misogynist ways in which male religious authorities had interpreted Muslim scriptures.

Use of a Berber pseudonym, Fatna Ait Sabbah, when producing her 1982La femme dans l’inconscient musulman Women in the Muslim Unconscious ...


Hassoum Ceesay

Gambia’s first woman cabinet minister and first female education officer, was born on 23 January 1922 in Banjul. She is also known as “Aunty Lou.” Her father, Sir John Mahoney, was the first speaker of the Gambian Legislative Council in 1954, and her mother Hannah was the first Gambian woman to work as a clerk in the Government Secretariat in the 1910s.

She attended the St. Joseph’s Infants School, the Methodists Girls High School, Banjul, and obtained the Cambridge School Certificate in 1942. She attended the prestigious Achimota Teachers College in Accra, Ghana, from 1942–1945. Upon her return, she taught at the Methodist Girls’ High School from 1942 to 1949; from 1949 to 1955, she taught at Bakau Primary School. She was school headmistress from 1957 to 1963. In 1958 she was appointed to the Royal Visit Committee responsible for the welcome of Queen Elizabeth ...


Meghan Healy-Clancy

was born in rural Gqubeni in South Africa’s Eastern Cape on 7 January 1920. A descendent of Xhosa royalty and a fourth-generation Christian, she grew up in a proud family of farmers and teachers, educated in mission schools. In her youth few young women reached university, and those who did were most likely to return to teach near home. Ntantala, who left for the University of Fort Hare as a precocious fifteen-year-old, was to lead a more cosmopolitan life than most Transkei women—both by choice, and by apartheid’s cruel fate.

Ntantala’s life was shaped profoundly by one of her classmates at Fort Hare: A. C. Jordan. An experienced teacher thirteen years older than Ntantala, Jordan tried unsuccessfully to court her at Fort Hare. He then recruited her to teach with him at a high school in Kroonstad, Free State, where they formed an enduring intellectual partnership, marrying in 1939 ...


Kim Miller

South African antiapartheid activist and organizer, was born Dorothy Nomzansi Nyembe in the rural area of KwaZulu-Natal. Her mother, Leeya Basolise Nyembe, was the daughter of Chief Ngedee Shezi. Dorothy Nyembe attended mission schools through the ninth grade and gave birth to her only child at the age of fifteen.

In 1952 Nyembe joined the African National Congress (ANC). In 1954 she was instrumental in establishing the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL), and in 1959 she was elected president of the ANCWL branch in Natal. She was also a leading member of the Federation of South African Women (FSAW).

Dorothy Nyembe worked tirelessly as an activist for both the ANCWL and the FSAW and took on leadership roles in regards to a number of issues She was the chairperson of the Two Sticks Branch Committee she was a key figure opposing forced removals from Cato Manor in 1956 and she led ...


Jeremy Rich

was born in Obosi, a city in the southeast province of Anambra State, Nigeria. Her father, D. K. Onwenu, was a prominent teacher in the city, who with her mother instilled in Onwenu a firm respect for formal education. Not much is available regarding Onwenu’s childhood, but she graduated from primary and secondary schools. Onwenu then moved to the United States, where she attended Wellesley College near Boston, Massachusetts, and received an undergraduate degree in international relations. Eventually, Onwenu also received a master’s degree in media studies from the New School for Social Research in New York City. Rather than return to Nigeria, Onwenu went to work for the United Nations in 1977.

In 1981 Onwenu returned to Nigeria and fulfilled her national service duties by working at the Nigerian Television Authority Nothing in her early life other than a love for singing suggested Onwenu would become a ...


Hannington Ochwada

Kenyan politician and first Kenyan woman elected as mayor and Member of Parliament (MP), was born at Gobei, Sakwa District, in Kenya’s Nyanza Province. She was educated at primary schools in Sakwa before enrolling in Ngiya Girls Secondary School. She later graduated as a teacher from Vihiga Teachers Training College in 1954. She married Onyango Baridi, with whom she had six children, and worked as a primary school teacher before being appointed principal of Ng’iya Women’s Teachers’ Training College. She also served as an assistant commissioner of the Girl Guide movement and chaired the Kisumu Branch of the Child Welfare Society in Kisumu District.

Onyango was drawn to community service even before she entered the realm of electoral politics. When she was elected to the Kisumu Municipal Council in 1963 she found it not only composed of European and Asian entrepreneurs but also dominated by men This led ...


Jeremy Rich

Senegalese sociologist and activist, was born on 2 November 1947 in the Senegalese city of Dakar to a Catholic family. She attended primary schools and secondary schools in Senegal. She then completed her advanced degrees in sociology in France. After completing her studies, Savané became a journalist. She became the head editor of the journal Famille et Développement from 1974 to 1978. From 1978 to 1988 she was a researcher for the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Savané took a new position in 1990 as a special adviser to the UN High Commission for Refugees, and she stayed in this position until she became the director for the West African section of a UN agency that specifically focused on demographic issues in 1992. She later became the director for this agency’s projects on the entire African continent from 1994 to 1997.

At the same time ...


Dior Konaté

Senegalese sociologist and feminist, was born in Dakar, Senegal. She was one of the earliest and best-known Francophone African women scholars to study gender relations. She is a professor of sociology at Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar (UCAD) in Senegal and a researcher at the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa (IFAN) and at the National Center for Scientific Researcher (CNRS) in France, affiliated to the Laboratoire de Sociétés en Développement dans l’Espace et le Temps (SEDET), University of Paris VII-Denis Diderot in France.

Sow finished her secondary school education at the Lycée Van Vollenhoven in Dakar She had first intended to be a lawyer a childhood dream she later abandoned She then attended the University of Dakar where she received degrees in sociology and philosophy In an interview she recalled her experience of being a female student in a male dominated learning environment One of the first African women ...