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Joshunda Sanders

media mogul, model, and actress, was born Tyra Lynne Banks and grew up in Inglewood, California. Her father, Donald Banks, was a computer consultant, and her mother, Carolyn London, was a medical photographer and business manager. The couple divorced when Tyra was six years old, in 1980.

Banks attended Immaculate Heart Middle and High School, an all-girl's private school. She credited her mother's photography business and friends' encouragement with her ability to overcome a self-consciousness during her awkward adolescence that almost made her pursue another path.

“I grew three inches and lost 40 pounds in 90 days,” she told the Black Collegian in an interview about her teen years. “It was just this crazy growth spurt. I felt like a freak: people would stare at me in the grocery store.”

A friend encouraged her to try modeling during her senior year At the time several ...

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Linda M. Carter

domestic and restaurateur, was born on the Farrin plantation near Clayton, Alabama. She was the daughter of the Farrins' female cook and the male owner of a plantation located approximately two miles away from the Farrin plantation. Burton's mistress was persistent in her attempts to get Burton's father, who was from Liverpool, England, to acknowledge his daughter, but he ignored Burton whenever she was in his presence. During the Civil War, Burton's mother left the Farrin plantation and her children after an argument with her mistress led to her being whipped. Several years later, Burton and her siblings were reunited with their mother when she returned to the plantation after the war had ended and took her children to their new home. The Farrins demanded that Burton's mother return her children to them until she threatened to go to the Yankee headquarters. In 1866 the family moved to ...

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Patricia Hunt-Hurst

one of the pioneers of black women in fashion modeling, was born in Texarkana, Texas; she was the seventh of eight children. Her mother was a school teacher and her father a carpenter and farmer. Dorothy studied biology at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, where she completed her degree in 1945. She planned to study medicine, but when her mother died she moved to Los Angeles to live with family. While there she earned a master's degree in education at the University of Southern California, married, and started her modeling career.

The fashion industry in the late twentieth century included the major fashion centers of New York and Paris New York was known for its American ready to wear and Paris for its couture or made to order dresses of original designs Fashion models were vital to the display of the designs in both facets of the ...

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Rayford W. Logan

Born in Warwick, Rhode Island, Elleanor Eldridge believed that her paternal grandfather had been born in Zaire (the ancient name of the current Democratic Republic of the Congo) and had been brought to America on a slave ship. One of his sons, Robin Eldridge, was Elleanor Eldridge's father. Robin and his two brothers had fought in the American Revolution (1775–1783) and been promised 80 hectares (198 acres) of land apiece in the Mohawk River Valley in New York. Since they received pay in the almost worthless Continental currency (notes issued by the Continental Congress to finance the war), they had been unable to take possession of the land. It is not clear how Robin Eldridge was able to purchase a lot and a house in Warwick, where he settled with his wife, Hannah Prophet, whom he had married before entering military service.

Elleanor was ...

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Donovan S. Weight

slave owner, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a freed slave and a white man (their names are unknown). Hinard never experienced slavery herself, and her life as a slave-owning black female was far removed from the common experience of most blacks in North America. This anomaly can be explained in part by the political and social turbulence of early New Orleans. By the time Hinard was forty-two, she had lived under French, Spanish, and American rule. In 1791 at the age of fourteen, Hinard was placéed (committed) to the white Spaniard Don Nicolás Vidal, the auditor de guerra the Spanish colonial governor In this lofty position Vidal provided military and legal counsel for both Louisiana and West Florida Both the Spanish and the French legislated against racial intermarriage as a way of maintaining pure white blood but this legislation did not stop white men from ...

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Kathryn M. Silva

educator, textile mill supervisor, dressmaker, was born Gertrude C. Hood in North Carolina, the eldest daughter of four children to Sophia J. Nugent, of Washington, D.C., and James Walker Hood of Pennsylvania. Miller's father was a prominent bishop and educator in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church. Gertrude Hood Miller, also known as “Gertie,” spent her life in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Miller's mother, Sophia Nugent died in 1875. Two years after her mother's death, James Walker Hood married Keziah “Katie” Price McCoy of Wilmington, North Carolina. The couple went on to have more children, making Hood the eldest of eleven children (Martin, p. 41) Shortly after her birth, Miller's father moved the family to his new post with the Evans AMEZ Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Henry Evans, an African American pastor, built the church in 1796 and it became the ...

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Pam Brooks

civil rights activist and community leader, was born Idessa Taylor in Montgomery, Alabama, the only child of Minnie Oliver. Other than the surname he shared with his daughter, Idessa Taylor's father's name is not recorded. Upon the early death of her mother when she was only two, Redden's maternal great grandparents, Luisa and Julius Harris, raised Redden in Montgomery until she was nine. Thereafter, her mother's brother, Robert Oliver, a railroad worker, and his wife, Dinah Beatrice Oliver a seamstress included Redden in their family of six children Redden attended St Paul s Methodist Church School Loveless School St John s Catholic School and State Normal High School in Montgomery As an elementary student on her way to school she had to endure the habitual taunts of young white boys In a videotaped interview on her ninetieth birthday Redden recounted one occasion when in retaliation for ...

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 ...

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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 ...

Article

Kelli Cardenas Walsh

military officer, was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Waddy was raised by her maternal grandmother after the death of her mother; her father raised her only sibling, a brother, separately. Waddy had no further contact with her father but did occasionally correspond with her brother. When she was fourteen years old, Waddy wrote a letter to her grandmother that read, “I intend to make something of myself.”

In 1920Waddy attended Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science in Manhattan, Kansas, for at least two years, earning a degree in secretarial skills. Waddy was married during this time, but it was quickly annulled for unknown reasons. In the 1930s she moved to Chicago and worked as a secretary to the director of medical services at Provident Hospital. It was there that she met orthopedic surgeon John Chenault; Waddy and Chenault were married on 4 November 1933 ...

Article

A'Lelia Perry Bundles

A’Lelia Walker, heiress to the hair care empire created by her mother Madam C. J. Walker, is best remembered as the hostess of the Dark Tower, the salon that served as a magnet for Harlem Renaissance writers, artists, actors, and musicians. Inspired by her flamboyant style, her wealth, and her interest in the arts, the poet Langston Hughes called her “the joy goddess of Harlem’s 1920s” in his autobiography The Big Sea.

Born Lelia McWilliams in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Walker was the only child of Moses McWilliams and Sarah Breedlove McWilliams, who later would become Madam Walker, the influential early-twentieth-century beauty industry pioneer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political activist. Little is known about Lelia’s father, who died around 1887. After his death, mother and daughter moved to St. Louis, where three Breedlove brothers operated a barbershop.

The McWilliams s transition to the unfamiliar fast paced city was ...

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A'Lelia Perry Bundles

entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political activist, was born Sarah Breedlove in Delta (Madison Parish), Louisiana, the fifth of six children of Minerva to Anderson and Owen Breedlove Sr., sharecroppers and former slaves.

Orphaned at seven years old, she had almost no formal education during her early life. Around 1878—when racial violence was at its most virulent in her rural Louisiana parish—she moved with her elder sister, Louvenia Breedlove Powell, across the Mississippi River to Vicksburg. At fourteen Sarah married Moses McWilliams, about whom almost nothing is known, to escape what she called the “cruelty” of her brother-in-law Jesse Powell. Around 1887 when the McWilliamses' daughter Lelia, later known as A'Lelia Walker, was two years old, Moses died. Although some sources say he was lynched, there is no credible documentation to justify such a claim.

To support herself and her daughter, Sarah McWilliams ...

Article

For Maggie Lena Walker, who rose from humble beginnings to become the first black woman bank president, the future of the race was dependent upon the education and advancement of black women. In her words, she was “not born with a silver spoon in mouth: but, instead, with a clothes basket almost upon my head.” Former slaves, Walker's mother, Elizabeth (Draper), was a cook's helper and her father, William Mitchell, was the family butler in the Van Lew mansion in Richmond, Virginia. After her father was found floating in the James River, apparently murdered, Maggie Walker assumed multiple responsibilities as delivery person and babysitter while she kept up with her studies, church attendance, and public service.

Educated in segregated public schools in Richmond, Walker finished at the head of her class in 1883 After graduation she taught for three years at the Lancaster school while she ...

Article

Psyche Williams-Forson

huckster, vendor, and entrepreneur, was born Isabella Wallace in Louisa County, Virginia, south of the town of Gordonsville, the daughter of McKaylor Wallace and Maria (Coleman) Wallace. Little information about her background is available. She credits her mother with having used business profits to build their first house, which burned in the 1920s. Following this tragedy, Winston's mother built another home farther from the road and spent much of her life caring for her livestock and attending church. Isabella married Douglas Winston—the exact date of her marriage is not known—and was widowed by age thirty-seven with ten children.

As head of household Isabella Winston bore the responsibility for feeding her large family Following a generational tradition she made her living as a waiter carrier as they called themselves meeting local trains and serving the passengers fried chicken and other foods In later years sharing her ...