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Article

Robert Fay

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., in Harlem, New York. Raised in a middle-class household and educated at Catholic schools in Manhattan, the young Alcindor was introduced to Basketball at age nine and played competitively throughout elementary and high school. Alcindor was six feet eight inches (2.05 meters) tall by the time he was fourteen years old and became a star center for Power Memorial Academy, leading the high school to two city championships. He continued his dominant play at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he led the university's team to three consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association championships. He lost only two games in his college career. An outspoken political activist who was influenced by the Black Power Movement, Alcindor changed his name in 1971 after converting to Islam. A popular NBA star from 1969 to 1989 Abdul Jabbar thwarted opponents ...

Article

Marty Dobrow

basketball player, was born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, the son of Ferdinand Lewis “Al” Alcindor, a police officer with the New York Transit Authority, and Cora Alcindor, a department-store price checker. The almost thirteen-pound baby arrived in Harlem one day after the major league debut of Jackie Robinson in Brooklyn; as with Robinson, fiercely competitive athletics and the struggle against racial injustice would define much of his life.

From a young age Alcindor was introspective and intense He had an artistic sensibility drawn in part from his father a stern and silent cop who played jazz trombone and held a degree from Juilliard An only child in a strictly Catholic household he moved from Harlem at age three to the Dyckman Street projects on the northern tip of Manhattan a racially mixed middle class community In third grade he was startled to see a class photo that featured him not ...

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John Burdick

The worship of Anastacia began in Brazil in the early 1970s The devotion to her centers upon a striking portrait of a young black woman with piercing blue eyes wearing a face iron an iron face mask that slaves were made to wear as a form of punishment Legend has it that Anastacia was tortured with the face iron when she refused to submit to the lust of her master Legend also has it that before she died she forgave her master and cured his child of a fatal disease Although the Catholic Church denounces the devotion to her as superstition at best and heresy at worst millions of Brazilians of all colors are deeply devoted to this woman whom they regard as possessing in death unparalleled supernatural powers Many of her devotees carry a small medallion of her image around their neck others keep a card with her ...

Article

Philip Herbert

Famous pianist in the United Kingdom during the 1950s, selling over 20 million records. She was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad, in February 1914. She studied the piano as a child and had a local following. It was hoped that she would eventually work for the family business, after her training in pharmacy.

To gain further musical training, Atwell moved to the United States in 1945, and then came to London in 1946, to the Royal Academy of Music, to become a concert pianist. To sustain her studies, she performed piano rags at hotels, theatres, and clubs in London. By 1950 she had attained national celebrity, and signed to record with Decca. She recorded such hits as Let's Have a Ding‐Dong, Poor People of Paris, Britannia Rag, and many others. The Black and White Rag became the signature tune for the BBC's Pot Black ...

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Zahia Smail Salhi

Algerian activist, was born in the Casbah of Algiers to a middle-class family. Djamila Boubacha (also spelled Boupacha) is one of the many young Algerian women who mobilized in the fight against French colonialism under the aegis of the Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962). She was a liaison agent for the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN; National Liberation Front) whose main task was to act as a go-between for FLN fighters in the maquis (guerrilla army) and the civilian population in the cities, towns, and villages. She was arrested on 10 February 1960, at the age of twenty-two, and illegally detained for allegedly planting a bomb that was defused before it could detonate in the student restaurant at the University of Algiers. Her trial was scheduled for 17 June 1959 although there were no witnesses who could identify her nor any proof that she had deposited ...

Article

Camilla Townsend

the first black winner of the “Miss Ecuador” beauty pageant, was born Mónica Paulina Chalá Mejía on 11 April 1973, in Quito, Ecuador. She was the third of six children born to a mother from Esmeraldas and a father from the Chota valley, two rural migrants who had come to the nation’s capital in search of work. Through her parents, she was thus tied to two historically black regions of the country, but she herself was raised as a quiteña. Her older sister Liliana Chalá (1965–) was a successful athlete in school and went on to win international prizes in hurdling and sprint events, representing Ecuador in the 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympics The young Mónica attended modeling school in Quito and through her sister s contacts she soon secured work in a television advertisement for a major bank alongside a famous soccer star A ...

Article

Eric Bennett

The son of the first African American professor at Princeton University, Anthony Davis studied classical music as a child in New York and as an undergraduate at Yale University he played free-jazz with Anthony Braxton. After earning his B.A. at Yale in 1975, Davis moved to New York City, where he supported himself as a Jazz pianist. As Davis developed musically, his compositions deviated from traditional jazz. He often abandoned improvisation and drew elements from Western classical music and African and South Asian rhythms. His recordings from this period include Hidden Voices (1979) and Lady of the Mirrors (1981). In 1981 Davis formed an eight-piece ensemble, Episteme, whose repertoire included a combination of improvised and scored music, blurring the distinction between jazz and classical music.

In the 1980s Davis began focusing much of his work on historical subjects. Middle Passage (1984 ...

Article

Chris Saunders

the last state president of apartheid South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was born in Johannesburg on 18 March 1936, the son of a leading National Party (NP) politician. Widely known, from his initials, as F. W., the younger de Klerk practiced law before entering politics. After being elected as a member of Parliament for the Vereeniging constituency in 1972, he rose rapidly through the ranks of the NP until he became leader of the party in early 1989 and state president in September that year. He held that position until May 1994, when Nelson Mandela succeeded him. He then became one of two deputy-presidents under Mandela until mid-1996, when he left the government of national unity and became leader of the opposition in Parliament. He retired as leader of the NP and from politics in September 1997.

De Klerk was a key figure in ...

Article

F. W. De Klerk was born to an Afrikaner family with a long history of involvement in South African politics. His own political career began during adolescence, when he joined the youth section of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party.

In 1958 De Klerk received a law degree from Potchef- stroom University. He practiced law in Veereniging from 1961 until 1972, all the while serving as chairman of the local chapter of the National Party. He then abandoned his law career and became a member of Parliament in South Africa. De Klerk rose quickly through the party’s rank and file, with appointments to numerous cabinet posts. As a minister he had little patience for antiapartheid protests but was known as a conciliator within the party.

After South African president Pieter Willem Botha had a heart attack in 1989 De Klerk became the leader of the National Party Later that ...

Article

Richard Watts

Jean-Claude Duvalier was born while his father, the tyrannical François Duvalier, (“Papa Doc”), was in political exile in the countryside of Haiti, and so spent the first years of his life in hiding. When Papa Doc assumed the presidency in 1957, he began grooming Jean-Claude, merely six years old, as his successor. On January 22, 1971, François Duvalier announced that, upon his own death, his nineteen-year-old son would assume the role of president for life. After his father's death later that year, Jean-Claude essentially became a figurehead for the regime while his mother, Simone Ovide Duvalier, ran the country.

Over time however young Duvalier assumed more power He appointed members of Haiti s mulatto elite whom he had met in school to important posts in his government and invited some of the departed elite to return promising that no risk of persecution existed Duvalier s ...

Article

Wolfgang Effenberger Lopez

a mythical figure very popular in the colonial-era oral traditions of Central America, especially those of El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Cuto derives from the indigenous Nahuatl word cutuctic, meaning “cut” or “shortened,” whereas partideño refers to a herdsman in the Spanish-language tradition. A translation to English would be “Cowboy Shorty.” From the seventeenth century (perhaps beforehand) up to the present day, stories about El Cuto Partideño have been reproduced by indigenous, mestiza, and ladina communities of partly African descent. Most often the cowboy is portrayed as a social bandit and cattle rustler, a Robin Hood figure stealing from the rich to share with the poor. But in other interpretations, he kidnaps women and takes them to his hideout. The figure is sometimes a ladino a mixed race person of Hispanic culture from the hot lands of the cattle country coastal plain of Central America although he ...

Article

Katya Leney-Hall

Egyptian Nobel Laureate, diplomat, international civil servant, and scholar who served as the director general (DG) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) between 1997 and 2009, was born in Cairo. His father was Mostafa ElBaradei, a lawyer and president of the Egyptian Bar Association, who campaigned for a free press and an independent legal system. ElBaradei studied law at the University of Cairo (1962), and completed his PhD in international law at the New York University School of Law (1974).

ElBaradei joined the Egyptian Diplomatic Service in 1964; his postings included the Egyptian Permanent Missions to the United Nations (UN) in New York and Geneva. Between 1974 and 1978 he served as a special assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister Working under another Egyptian diplomat who would later leave his mark on the UN Boutros Boutros Ghali he attended the Camp David ...

Article

Myrlie Williams was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and raised by her grandmother, McCain Beasley, and her aunt, Myrlie Beasley Polk. She married civil rights activist Medgar Evers in 1951. Together they worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in its mission to end racial discrimination and segregation in Mississippi.

In 1963 white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith assassinated Medgar Evers. After her husband's death, Evers-Williams moved her family to California, where she continued to work for the NAACP by speaking publicly about her struggles for black equality. With William Peters, she coauthored For Us, the Living (1967). In 1987 Evers-Williams became the first black woman to serve as commissioner on the Los Angeles board of public works. She was elected vice chairperson of the NAACP in 1994, and in 1995 she became the organization s first ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

civil rights activist and chairperson of the NAACP. Raised by her grandmother and aunt in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Myrlie Beasely entered Alcorn A&M College in 1950 to study education and music. Shortly after enrolling she met an upperclassman, Medgar Wylie Evers, and the couple married in 1951. The next year they moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where Medgar Evers became field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Ignoring threats from white racists, Myrlie and Medgar Evers participated wholeheartedly in the civil rights movement, but on 12 June 1963 Medgar Evers was shot and killed. His assailant, a segregationist named Byron De La Beckwith, was captured and tried but not convicted. For thirty years Myrlie Evers fought for a retrial, and on 5 February 1994 Beckwith was finally convicted of murder. The trial was dramatized in the 1996 film Ghosts of Mississippi.

Following ...

Article

Susan Shepler

peace activist, social worker, women's rights advocate, and 2011Nobel Laureate, was born on 1 February 1972 in central Liberia and raised in the country's capital, Monrovia. Her father worked as the head radio technician and liaison to the United States for the government of Liberia's National Security Agency. Her father was hired under President William Tolbert, was arrested and jailed for nine months when Samuel Doe seized power in 1980, and was reinstated upon his release. He resigned with the election of Charles Taylor in 1997 and became head of security at St. Peters Catholic Church. Her mother was a dispensing pharmacist at several hospitals in Monrovia before the outbreak of war.

Gbowee graduated from B.W. Harris Episcopal High, one of Monrovia's best high schools. In March 1990 she began classes at the University of Liberia with the dream of becoming a doctor ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

In a 1965 interview, Nadine Gordimer assessed her political consciousness with a self-scrutiny that characterized much of her political writing: “I have come to the abstractions of politics through the flesh and blood of individual behavior. I didn’t know what politics was about until I saw it all happening to people.” In her novels and short stories, Gordimer has captured the “flesh and blood of individual behavior” in minute and sentient detail, chronicling daily life in South Africa under Apartheid and portraying the human face of resistance.

Gordimer grew up in a small gold mining town near Johannesburg South Africa the daughter of a Lithuanian Jewish father and an English mother Although she read voraciously as a child she was removed from school at age ten because of a perceived heart ailment and had little formal schooling Trailing her mother to afternoon teas the lively Gordimer spent her time observing ...

Article

Stephen Clingman

South African novelist, short story writer, essayist, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was born on 20 November 1923 in the small gold mining town of Springs east of Johannesburg Both her parents were Jewish immigrants her father Isidore was a watchmaker and jeweler from the Lithuanian Latvian border her mother Nan came from England Her father with his foreign accent and ways was disparaged in the family he also absorbed the dominant racial models of the time while her mother took more readily to anglicized colonial mores Gordimer grew up in a nonreligious environment though she attended a convent school for the sake of its superior education Early on she was a dancer and sometimes a truant exploring the physical possibilities of veld and mine dumps with innate energy and relish At the age of eleven however her mother withdrew her from school on the putative ...

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Virginia A. Shadron

Rosa Lee Ingram became the focus of national and international attention following her 1948 conviction for murder in rural southwest Georgia. The granddaughter of slaves and the recently widowed mother of twelve children, Ingram was accused of killing a white man on the small farm both worked as sharecroppers. Hers was one of several southern criminal cases taken up by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) in the late 1940s. Rosa Lee Ingram served as a symbol of the many outrages and daily indignities black women suffered in the rural south—from rape and sexual assault to the unrelenting, demeaning reminders of second-class citizenship.

The news coverage of Ingram’s appeal portrayed her as having merely defended herself against lewd advances, a case of self-defense. But Ingram’s own description of the events suggests that her neighbor John Stratford s death resulted ...

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Maud C. Mundava

basketball player and coach, actor, and author Born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr and known early on as Lew he was a very big baby about 13 pounds and 22 inches He grew up in a racially mixed middle class neighborhood in Manhattan as the only child of Al Alcindor and Cora Alcindor Al Alcindor was originally from Trinidad and he was a fairly successful jazz musician and a New York City Transit Authority police officer Jabbar grew up a Catholic and attended St Jude s Elementary School and a boys only Catholic school Power Memorial Academy He was a shy and withdrawn child because he was taller than most of the kids his age but he showed a lot of determination in pursuit of excellence He always wanted to be the best As a result of his values and upbringing Jabbar was well spoken stayed out of ...

Article

Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York, the fourth of five children born to James and Deloris Jordan. The family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, when Michael was still a young child. As a teenager, Jordan became well known for his baseball skills, and he was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Babe Ruth League after his team won the state championship.

Jordan attended Wilmington's Laney High School, but failed to make the varsity basketball team. Laney's coach, Clifton “Pop” Herring, decided that Jordan could improve his skills with more playing time on the junior varsity team. As a sophomore on the junior varsity, Jordan, then 5 feet, 11 inches (1.8 meters) tall, averaged 25 points per game.

The following summer Jordan worked diligently on his own and at basketball camps to improve his game During this early period in his career Jordan ...