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Sandra Y. Govan

A Los Angeles native and later resident of Vancouver, Washington, Steven Emory Barnes is the third African American author after 1960 to have chosen science fiction and fantasy writing as his primary profession. Barnes established himself through the 1980s as a determined and disciplined writer, one who had followed a cherished childhood dream to become a commercially successful professional writer.

The youngest child of Emory F. Barnes and Eva Mae (Reeves) Barnes, Steven Barnes grew up in Los Angeles. He attended Los Angeles High, Los Angeles City College, and Pepperdine University, Malibu, California (1978–1980 At Pepperdine he majored in communication arts but withdrew from school before completing a degree frustrated because he thought no one on the faculty could teach him about building a career as a professional writer It was not until Barnes made contact with established science fiction writer Ray Bradbury who sent the novice ...

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Thomas F. DeFrantz

Afro‐Caribbean dancer and choreographer, was born Percival Sebastian Borde in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the son of George Paul Borde, a veterinarian, and Augustine Francis Lambie. Borde grew up in Trinidad, where he finished secondary schooling at Queens Royal College and took an appointment with the Trinidad Railway Company. Around 1942 he began formal research on Afro‐Caribbean dance and performed with the Little Carib Dance Theatre. In 1949 he married Joyce Guppy, with whom he had one child. The year of their divorce is unknown.

Borde took easily to dancing and the study of dance as a function of Caribbean culture. In the early 1950s he acted as director of the Little Carib Theatre in Trinidad. In 1953 he met the noted American anthropologist and dancer Pearl Primus who was conducting field research in Caribbean folklore Primus convinced Borde to immigrate to the United States as ...

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Shantel Agnew

broadcast journalist and news correspondent. Edward Rudolph Bradley Jr. was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was raised by his mother Gladys Bradley, who taught him the value of hard work. He spent part of each summer in Detroit, Michigan, with his father Edward Bradley Sr., who owned a restaurant. Bradley graduated from Cheyney State College (now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania) in 1964 with a degree in education. During his senior year Bradley was introduced to radio by Georgie Woods, a popular radio DJ, who gave a talk to his class about using community resources to reach out to children. After his graduation, Bradley began teaching and worked for free at Philadelphia's WDAS radio station in the evenings. He offered to cover the riots in 1965 and used a pay phone to call the radio station to report on the event by interviewing community leaders ...

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Roanne Edwards

Best known for his weekly Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television show Tony Brown's Journal, Tony Brown has become a controversial figure in the landscape of American race relations. Although once active in the Civil Rights Movement, he has criticized present-day black activists for prioritizing civil rights at the expense of black business initiatives and education programs in computer technologies. He advocates black economic self-sufficiency and has consistently opposed welfare as well as Affirmative Action policies that he believes mainly benefit middle-class blacks. “If America were capitalist,” said Brown in an interview with Matthew Robinson of Business Daily, “it could not be racist. Racism is flourishing because we are awash in socialistic controls.”

Born in Charleston, West Virginia, Brown was reared by two domestic workers, Elizabeth Sanford and Mabel Holmes who informally adopted him at the age of two months after his father deserted the family ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz bassist, was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His parents’ names and occupations are not recorded. An only child, Davis began studying the piano when he was five but soon dropped it because his family did not own a piano. When he was in sixth grade, he wanted to play trumpet or trombone but began on the tuba since it was the only instrument available.

In 1951, when he decided to seriously start his music career, Davis switched to string bass. Very technically skilled from the start, Davis was one of the first musicians who had no difficulty switching between jazz and classical music. He studied with the principal bassist of the Philadelphia Orchestra (Anselme Fortier) and attended Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music from 1953 to 1956. In addition, he led his own quartet and played on radio, on television, at clubs, and at colleges.

After ...

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Emad Abdul-Latif

playwright, was born in Egypt's Al Sharqiya governorate to a middle-class family. His father was a government employee, and his mother died when he was five years old. He completed his primary and secondary education in Alexandria, then studied English literature at the University of Farouk I (after 1952 known as the University of Alexandria). After graduating in 1949, he worked as an English teacher for six years but abandoned this work for a career in the press. In 1959 he was arrested on charges of belonging to a leftist organization and spent five years in jail. For ten years following his release, Farag served in various posts in official cultural institutions in Egypt. However, he was forced to leave Egypt in 1973 following a clash between President Muhammad Anwar al Sadat and Egyptian intellectuals Over the course of fourteen years Farag lived in various countries including ...

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Michelle K. Massie

civil rights activist and pioneering journalist, was born in White Plains, Virginia, the third eldest of six children of William and Mary Goode. William Goode's father, Thomas, was born a slave and died after the Civil War, a free man. William and Mary moved their family to Homestead Pennsylvania a borough located seven miles from downtown Pittsburgh that was home to one of the world s most productive steel mills Goode s parents relocated from Virginia to Pennsylvania so their children could attend school year round and receive a better education than that offered in the South The colored schools in Virginia closed at harvest time so black children particularly boys could work in the fields The lure of better wages in the steel mills also prompted the family to migrate to the North Goode s father worked as a second helper on an open hearth ...

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Marva O. Banks

Born in Newark, New Jersey, on 7 November 1936, to Nathan E. and Gladys Fruitt Heard (a blues singer), Nathan Cliff Heard was reared by his mother and maternal grandmother in Newark's inner city; he dropped out of school at fifteen, drifted into a life of crime, and spent the next seventeen years (1951–1968) in and out of New Jersey State Prison at Trenton where he served time for armed robbery.

While in prison Heard distinguished himself as a talented and award-winning athlete. It was not until fellow prisoner Harold Carrington introduced him to the masters—Langston Hughes, Samuel Beckett, James Baldwin, Jean Genet, Amiri Baraka, and others—that Heard began to write, at first about music and African history. In 1963, encouraged by his fellow inmates, he wrote the manuscript for To Reach a Dream Although the novel did not sell ...

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Justin David Gifford

author, professor of creative writing, actor, television host, and key figure in the black crime fiction movement of the 1960s and 1970s, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Gladys Pruitt Heard, a blues singer, and Nathan E. Heard, a laborer. Heard was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother, and, at the age of fifteen, he dropped out of high school. Heard spent much of the 1950s and 1960s in reform school and then in New Jersey State Prison at Trenton for armed robbery and parole violation.

Like his fellow African American crime writers Chester Himes and Donald Goines, Heard began his literary career while behind bars. It was while he was serving eight years in prison for armed robbery in the early 1960s that Heard began reading the fiction of the Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs and other ...

Article

Marianne Wilson

composer, was born in Tucson, Arizona, the son of Ulysses Simpson Kay Sr., a barber, and Elizabeth Kay, who was from Louisiana. As a young child he was surrounded with musical sounds—from his parents' singing to his brother and sister practicing music. When it was time for Ulysses Kay to start music instruction, his mother sought advice from Uncle Joe—the legendary cornetist King Oliver—concerning trumpet lessons. King Oliver replied, “No, Lizzie. Give that boy piano lessons so's he can learn the rudiments. And then he'll find what he wants to do in music (Slonimsky, 3). Kay began formal piano studies at age six. Besides piano, Kay also played the violin and the saxophone. He was very active in his high school's musical ensembles, playing in the dance orchestra and marching band. Additionally Kay enjoyed listening to the sounds of the contemporary jazz giants Benny ...

Article

Christopher Phelps

writer and activist, was the second of two sons born to Reverend W. D. Lester, a Methodist minister, and Julia (Smith) Lester in St. Louis, Missouri. When he was two years old the family moved to Kansas City, Kansas. His father, seeking dignity, invariably wore a suit and tie, teaching his sons that separate “colored” facilities were demeaning and never to be used. The family spent its summers in the South at the rural home of Lester's maternal grandmother in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Lester's early precocity manifested itself in his love for reading and a propensity to challenge teachers. A childhood spent deep within the folds of the black community did not shield him from terror and anger. He later wrote that under segregation, “Hope was the name some dreamer bestowed on a daughter, … change was what the white man at the store might give you ...

Article

Scott Yanow

jazz and rhythm and blues pianist, was born Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis Jr. in Chicago, Illinois. His parents were Ramsey Lewis Sr. and Pauline Lewis. Lewis began playing piano when he was four years old. Some of his earliest playing experiences were accompanying the church choir during services; his father was the church's choir director. When he was fifteen years old Lewis worked regularly with the Clefs, a seven-piece jazz band that played at parties and college dances. He studied at Chicago Musical College (1947–1954), the University of Illinois (1953–1954), and DePaul University (1954–1955).

In 1956 he formed the Ramsey Lewis Trio and from the start the group was quite popular first in the Chicago area and then nationally Lewis always had a piano style that was distinctive and catchy melodic and soulful His trio with the bassist Eldee Young and the drummer ...

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Leslie Gourse

trombonist and arranger, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the daughter of Lucille Liston, a domestic worker, and Frank Liston, an amateur musician who died when Melba was young. At age six Liston fell in love with a trombone in a pawnshop window. “I picked the trombone visually,” she told a reporter forty years later. “I just liked what it looked like in a store window. I became obsessed with the trombone and got one in the school system. I … learned by ear to play ‘Deep River,’ church, and folk pieces.” Melba lived with her grandparents, who also had a young daughter. Liston had approval for her music from her mother, who eventually bought her a trombone. “A child has to have some hobby,” Liston said. “My mother worked away … and I had my dear trombone” (interview with the author).

Liston s young aunt liked ...

Article

Willie Hobbs

visual artist and educator, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Alyce and Edward Love, about whom little is known. After attending Manual Arts High School, Love, a baseball standout, was slated to be recruited by the San Francisco Giants. The U.S. Air Force proved more attractive to Love than baseball. While serving a five-year stint in the military that ultimately took him to Japan, Love became deeply influenced by Japanese culture. He also developed an affinity for the music of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis and the discourse of the Black Arts Movement, as well as a fascination with architectural design.

After an honorable discharge, Love earned a BFA in Sculpture in 1966 and an MFA in Design in 1967 from California State University Los Angeles A postgraduate fellowship to study humanities and fine arts at Uppsala University in Sweden soon followed While there ...

Article

Yolanda L. Watson Spiva

educator and popular therapist, was born in Dania, Florida, the youngest of fourteen children to parents Theophilus and Lucille Morley, vegetable farmers from the Eleuthera and Bahama Islands. Joyce spent her formative years in Dania until 1969, at which time she was sent by her mother to Rochester, New York, to live with her sister. Joyce's mother thought that her daughter might have access to a better educational system and decreased racial tensions in the North. Joyce graduated from Monroe Senior High School in Rochester, New York, two months following her seventeenth birthday. In 1973, she graduated cum laude from SUNY Geneseo with a BS in Elementary Education with a concentration in Psychology. While at Geneseo, Morley, along with her high school sweetheart, Bernard Watson, gave birth to their first daughter, Yolanda. In September 1973 Morley taught first second and third grades beginning ...

Article

Marcella L. McCoy

educator, leader, and writer, was born Jeanne Laveta Noble in Albany, Georgia (although some reports suggest she was born in Palm Beach, Florida), to Aurelia and Floyd Noble. She was reared primarily by her grandmother, Maggie Brown who was a first grade teacher and owned a florist shop Her mother was young and her father left the family before Noble reached five years of age Noble the eldest child with three younger brothers took her grandmother s advice to pursue a career and an education in order to secure her economic independence Noble like many children in the Jim Crow South had a rude awakening to the contradictions of American society She was sent home from a visit to a church affiliated camp for presuming that she could engage in church activities alongside white children As a result Noble refused to associate with the church until ...

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Steven R. Carter

and contributor to the Black Arts movement and regional theater. Soon after Ted (Theodis) Shine's birth in Baton Rouge, he and his parents, Theodis and Bessie, moved to Dallas where he grew up. At Howard University he was encouraged to pursue satiric playwriting by Owen Dodson, who tactfully indicated Shine's limits as a tragic writer. His play Sho Is Hot in the Cotton Patch was produced at Howard in 1951. Graduating in 1953, Shine studied at the Karamu Theatre in Cleveland on a Rockefeller grant through 1955 and then served two years in the army. Earning his MA at the University of lowa in 1958, he began his career as a teacher of drama at Dillard University in 1960, moving to Howard University from 1961to 1967 and then settling at Prairie View A M University where he became a professor and head ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz pianist, educator, and spokesman, was born in Greenville, North Carolina. His father, a choir director, sang and played piano and brass instruments. Taylor moved with his family to Washington, D.C., when he was five. While Taylor had brief stints on drums, guitar, and saxophone, he was most attracted to the piano. He had classical piano lessons with Henry Grant, who had given Duke Ellington lessons twenty years earlier. Taylor had his first musical job when he was thirteen. Decades later he recalled seeing Jelly Roll Morton perform in Washington, D.C., in 1938. Taylor earned a bachelor's degree in music from Virginia State College in 1942.

Moving to New York in 1944, Taylor played on 52nd Street with the tenor saxophonist Ben Webster. The same night he debuted with Webster, he met his mentor, Art Tatum He was a member of separate ...

Article

Margaret Ann Reid

Waters Edward Turpin, the only child of Simon and Mary Rebecca (Waters) Turpin, was born 9 April 1910 on the eastern shore of Maryland in Oxford. At the time of his death, 19 November 1968, he had been married to Jean Fisher Turpin for thirty-two years. They had two children–Rosalie Rebecca Turpin Belcher and John Edward Turpin.

Although Turpin's career was multifaceted, he was primarily a teacher. He began his teaching career in 1935 at Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where he taught English and coached football. In June 1938, he left Storer to pursue a doctoral degree at Columbia University, where he had received his master's degree in 1932. (He received the EdD in 1960.) In 1940 Turpin joined the faculty at Lincoln University (Pa.) and stayed there until 1950, when he was invited by Nick Aaron Ford chair ...

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Karen E. Sutton

gained fame in 2003 when she revealed that she was the illegitimate, biracial daughter of the late Strom Thurmond, U.S. senator from South Carolina. America knew Thurmond as a staunch segregationist, and he was the longest-serving and oldest senator in U.S. history, dying at age one hundred in June 2003. Her mother was Carrie Butler, who had a love affair with Thurmond when she was fifteen and employed as a domestic servant in his family home. At the time of their relationship, Thurmond was a single, twenty-two-year-old schoolteacher and football coach at Edgefield High School.

Born in Aiken, South Carolina, Washington-Williams was raised by her maternal aunt, Mary Butler Washington, in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. She met her real mother in 1938, when “Aunt” Carrie came to visit and revealed their true relationship. At age sixteen, in 1941 while in Edgefield South Carolina for a family ...