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Camara, M’Balia  

Elizabeth Schmidt

Guinean political activist, was born into a farming family in the Lower Guinea village of Posseya in 1929. She was a political activist in the town of Tondon in the mid-1950s. A member of the Guinean branch of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA), Camara led the local RDA women’s committee. Toward the end of World War II, she married Thierno Camara, a military veteran who was later elected president of the Tondon RDA subsection.

A hotbed of opposition to government- appointed canton (administrative district) chiefs, Tondon attracted the attention of the French colonial authorities on 9 February 1955 when Thierno Camara and other RDA militants were arrested for undermining chiefly authority When villagers tried to thwart their leader s arrest Chief David Sylla attacked the crowd with his saber and gun seriously wounding several demonstrators He then entered the Camaras house and attacked M Balia Camara who was ...

Article

D’Almeida Adamon, Grace  

Flore Nobime

Beninese feminist, human rights activist, and lawyer, was born Grace Antonia Almeida Benoite Adamon on 21 March 1951 in Dakar, Senegal. She attended primary school there before returning with her family to Dahomey to continue her secondary schooling. In Cotonou she enrolled in studies at the College of Our Lady of the Apostles. She then moved to Guebwiller on the upper Rhine in France where she finished her secondary degree.

D’Almeida Adamon attended university in France. At the University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas, she earned a diploma, and followed with a master’s degree. At the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, she continued advanced studies in law and earned a DEA postgraduate degree. In order to become a lawyer, she returned to Paris II Panthéon-Assas where she left with her professional law degree (CAPA). In 1977 she began practicing in Paris as a lawyer but one year later she returned ...

Article

Dow, Unity  

Mary S. Lederer and Elizabeth Macharia-Mokobi

Botswana lawyer, judge, and women’s and human rights activist, was born on 23 April 1959, in Mochudi in the Kgatleng District of Botswana, 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the capital Gaborone, to Phiri and Malefshane. One of six children, Dow received her early education in Mochudi and attended law school at the University of Botswana and Swaziland and later at Edinburgh University, qualifying as an attorney in 1983. She immediately took employment as a criminal prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Chambers in Gaborone. On 7 March 1984, she married Peter Nathan Dow, an American national. They set up home in Mochudi with her daughter Cheshe Maitumelo (born in 1979) and welcomed two more children: a son, Tumisang Tad, in 1985 and another daughter, Natasha Selemo, two years later.

In 1986 Dow left the employ of the government and entered into private practice as a partner ...

Article

Halimi, Gisèle  

Julia A. Clancy-Smith

Tunisian lawyer activist and writer was born in Halq al Wadi La Goulette the port for Tunis to Tunisian Jewish parents from the large Taïeb clan Zeiza Gisèle Élise Halimi s gender made her unwelcome at birth Her father Edouard an Orthodox Jew of precarious economic resources had desired a second son Despite or perhaps because of the fact that her parents had no formal schooling and distrusted education and books Halimi evinced a passion for reading and studies from early on which she satisfied through the public library in Tunis Since most of the family s meager income went for her older brother s schooling Halimi s prospects for high school seemed dim at best so she took a scholarship examination and earning the highest grade was able to attend lycée which eventually opened the door to a university education in France Before studying law she had two other ...

Article

Jiagge, Annie Ruth  

Josephine Dawuni

judge, women’s rights advocate, and civic leader, originally from Togo and active as an adult in Ghana, was born Annie Ruth Baeta in Lomé, Togo, on 7 October 1918. Her father, Reverend Robert Domingo Baeta, was a teacher and minister and her mother, Henrietta Baeta (née Sedode), was also a teacher. On 10 January 1953, Annie Ruth Baeta married Fred K. A. Jiagge; they later adopted a son. Jiagge began her early education in Lomé, and later went to live with her maternal grandmother, Julia B. Sedode, in Keta, Ghana (then known as the Gold Coast), to be educated in English. In 1938, she attained a teaching certificate from Achimota College, and taught until 1944. In 1946, she began teaching an adult domestic science class to help improve the literacy rate among adults in Keta.

In 1947 after passing the London matriculation exam Jiagge ...

Article

Kennedy, Flo  

Kimala Price

lawyer, feminist, and civil rights activist, was born Florynce Rae Kennedy in Kansas City, Missouri, the second of five daughters of Wiley Kennedy, a Pullman porter, waiter, and taxi-business owner, and Zella (maiden name unknown). The Kennedy family lived in a predominantly white neighborhood in Kansas City that included small enclaves of black families. Although the family owned a modest house in which the three oldest daughters shared not only a room but also a single bed, Kennedy recalled that she and her sisters did not feel poor while they were growing up. In fact their mother made a conscientious effort to maintain an aesthetically pleasing environment in their home. Wiley and Zella Kennedy were not particularly strict with their children and encouraged them to pursue their individual interests to develop self confidence and to question authority traits that served Kennedy well in her future ...

Article

Kennedy, Flo  

Akilah S. Nosakhere

attorney, activist, author, and lecturer. Florynce Rae “Flo” Kennedy was a middle-aged woman when she became known as the “biggest, loudest and, indisputably, the rudest mouth” (Martin) on the planet—a label she earned as the result of her shameless campaign for the rights of women.

Flo Kennedy was the second of five girls born to Wiley and Zella Kennedy Flo s father a Pullman porter a waiter and later the owner of a taxi business was a very proud man who taught his daughters to stand up for themselves The Kennedys lived in a mostly white area in Kansas City Missouri and one evening they were visited by the Ku Klux Klan Undaunted Wiley Kennedy armed with his shotgun let them know that he intended on staying in his home on Walrond Avenue and that he would shoot the first man who stepped onto his porch This and other ...

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Kennedy, Florynce  

LaTrese Evette Adkins

In her autobiography Color Me Flo, Florynce Rae Kennedy poked fun at herself for having “an acute case of word diarrhea.” Not one to hold her tongue, Kennedy built a public career out of this condition, becoming a celebrity activist known for her sardonic political humor and biting social commentary.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, the second of Wiley and Zella Kennedy s five daughters Flo grew up in a two parent household Kennedy s mother was a stay at home mom before the Depression but not the typical maternal figure Both she and her husband made their children s lives uncommon The Kennedy children were taught to value themselves and to give authority figures black or white only the respect they earned The Kennedy girls were precious to and protected by a father who had no reservations about showing that he would back up what he ...

Article

Molokomme, Athaliah Maoka Lesiba  

Elizabeth Macharia-Mokobi

Botswana lawyer and women’s rights activist, was born in Francistown in northern Botswana on 4 December 1959. She was the second of nine children born to Rufus Oka Kabiwa (1930–1990) and Imeldah Mishodzi Molokomme (b. 1940). Her parents were teachers by profession. They raised a large family on strong values of sharing, community, and mutual respect. Having learned how to read at the age of three and a half, Molokomme was sent to school by her parents, at this unusually tender age. Her formative years were spent in primary school at Tchangati, Sebina, and Mathangwane. In 1970 she entered secondary school at St. Joseph’s College Kgale, a Catholic mission school on the outskirts of the capital city, Gaborone. Described as having been a brilliant student, she graduated with a first-class examinations classification in 1975.

Molokomme then enrolled at the University of Botswana to study law She graduated ...

Article

Rogombe, Rose Francine  

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese politician and judge, was born on 20 September 1942 to a Galwa family in the central Gabonese town of Lambaréné. The small Galwa community belongs to the minority Omyènè ethnic community that had received favored access to educational opportunities throughout much of the colonial period. She attended primary and secondary schools in Gabon, and her family was close to the extremely powerful Gabonese politician Georges Rawiri. Like Rawiri, Rogombe (née Etoumba) backed the single-party regime of Omar Bongo Ondimba established in 1968. She was a faithful member of Bongo’s Parti Démocratique Gabonais (PDG; Gabonese Democratic Party), and upon completing her undergraduate and graduate studies of law in France, Rogombe returned to Gabon to work for the government. After first working as a magistrate, Rogombe served as minister of women’s affairs and human rights in the 1980s under longtime prime minister Léon Mebiame, another PDG stalwart.

Rogombe authored ...

Article

Thomas-Graham, Pamela  

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

Toote, Gloria E. A.  

Luther Brown

lawyer, activist, and businesswoman, was born in New York City to Frederick A. Toote, a bishop in the African Orthodox Church, and Lillian Tooks. Lillian Tooks had been born in Macon, Georgia, and her family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, immediately after her birth. Frederick Toote, descended from a Bahamian family, was heavily involved in the activities of his Harlem community and had become a major player in Marcus Garvey's African Orthodox Church, which was hugely popular at the time, and in the “Back to Africa” movement. Lillian was a homemaker until her children (Gloria's younger sister, Frances, rounded out the household) were older, and she became an information officer for a New York City municipal department.

Toote was a gifted child whose intelligence seemed boundless The post Depression years in New York were quite harsh for most working class families While the Toote ...

Article

Truth, Sojourner  

Nell Irvin Painter

abolitionist and women's rights advocate, was born in Hurley, Ulster County, New York, the daughter of James and Elizabeth Baumfree, who were slaves. Named Isabella by her parents, she took the name Sojourner Truth in 1843. As a child, Isabella belonged to a series of owners, the most memorable of whom were the John Dumont family of Esopus, Ulster County, to whom she belonged for approximately seventeen years and with whom she remained close until their migration to the West in 1849. About 1815 she married another of Dumont's slaves, Thomas, who was much older than she; they had five children. Isabella left Thomas in Ulster County after their emancipation under New York State law in 1827, but she did not marry again.

In the year before her emancipation Isabella left her master Dumont of her own accord and went to work for the ...

Article

Truth, Sojourner  

James Sellman

Sojourner Truth was one of the best-known black women of her time, rivaled only by African American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, yet her life remains surrounded by mystery. Truth, who was illiterate, left no written record apart from her autobiographical Narrative of Sojourner Truth, dictated to white abolitionist Olive Gilbert in the late 1840s. Much of what we know about her was reported or perhaps invented by others. More so than Frederick Douglass, her prolifically autobiographical contemporary, Truth has been transformed into myth. Feminists emphasize her challenge to restrictive Victorian codes of femininity; Marxist historians proclaim her solidarity with the working class. Her spirit has been invoked on college campuses in the United States in struggles to create African American and Women's Studies programs. Yet most interpretations of Truth fail to understand the centrality of her evangelical religious faith.

In their writings, both Harriet Beecher Stowe and ...

Article

Truth, Sojourner  

Nell Irvin Painter

Sojourner Truth, born a slave in Ulster County, New York, a symbol of women's strength and black women's womanliness, is summed up in the phrase “ar'n't I a woman?” Known as Isabella VanWagener until 1843, she changed her name and became an itinerant preacher under the influence of Millerite Second Adventism.

In the 1840s Truth encountered feminist abolitionism during her stay in the Northampton (Mass.) Association of Education and Industry. There she met Olive Gilbert, who recorded The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Bondswoman of Olden Time, which Truth published in Boston in 1850. During the 1850s and 1860s sales to antislavery and feminist audiences of this narrative provided Truth's main source of income. Truth attended the 1851 Akron, Ohio, convention on women's rights in order to sell her book. The chair of that meeting, Frances Dana Gage wrote the most popular version of ...

Article

Truth, Sojourner  

Nell Irvin Painter

Sojourner Truth is one of the two most widely known nineteenth-century black women; the other, Harriet Tubman, was also a former slave without formal education. While Tubman is known as the “Moses of her people” for having led hundreds of slaves to freedom, Truth is remembered more for a few memorable utterances than for her acts. Before the Civil War, she was a feminist abolitionist; after the war, she worked in freedpeople’s relief. Truth is closely identified with a phrase she did not utter, “and ar’n’t I a woman?” She often made the point that women who are poor and black must be included within the category of woman, but not in these precise words. A white feminist journalist, Frances Dana Gage, invented these particular words in 1863 Truth s twentieth and twenty first century persona worked most effectively within the politically minded worlds of black ...

Article

Truth, Sojourner  

Alfreda S. James

By the time Sojourner Truth met Frederick Douglass in the early 1840s she had evolved from a fugitive slave to a Pentecostal preacher and a member of the Northampton Association for Education and Industry, an egalitarian community in Massachusetts that honored work and rejected slavery and other class distinctions. In the twenty years since Truth had liberated herself from slavery, she had developed a reputation as a simple yet razor-sharp commentator on religion and people.

Her name at birth was Isabella, and she was the youngest child of two Dutch-speaking slaves, James and Elizabeth Baumfree (or Bomefree). The Baumfrees lived in the town of Hurley in Ulster County, New York, and were the human property of Johannis Hardenbergh, a Revolutionary War veteran. When Hardenbergh died in either 1807 or 1808 his estate sold Isabella to an English speaking family in Ulster County The early circumstances of Isabella s life ...