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Charles Rosenberg

college president, activist for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). Born Mary Rice in Harrisonburg, Virginia, she was the acknowledged daughter of confederate general John R. Jones and Malinda Rice, who was hired as a servant in his household at the age of seventeen in 1873. There appears to have been some enduring affection between Jones and Rice. He acknowledged paternity of Mary and her brother William, and his first wife, Sarah, ill and often confined to bed, asked to see the children and gave them presents. Mary Rice was raised in part by John Rice, Malinda's brother, and his wife Dolly. She also spent time in Jones's household, and after Sarah Jones died in 1879 the general bought a house for Malinda and her children The immediate neighborhood was racially mixed ...

Article

Debbie Maudlin Cottrell

educator, was born in Farmville, Virginia, the daughter of Tazewell Branch, a former slave who served in the Virginia legislature and worked as a shoemaker and tax collector, and Harriett Lacey, a domestic worker. Although she learned to read at home, Branch began her quest for formal education when she was thirteen. Because her mother did laundry for students and teachers at State College in Farmville, Branch often made trips to the school to pick up or deliver clothes; in time she herself became a maid in the college library. Exposed for the first time to a wide variety of books and knowledge, she was determined to obtain her own education. Within a few years she had earned a high school diploma from the normal school of Virginia State College, a land-grant college for black students in Petersburg, where she also took teacher education classes.

Eager to share her ...

Article

Twinette L. Ackerson

educator, activist, and lawyer, was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, one of five children. Francis's father, Joseph A. Francis, a barber who owned his own business, was known around town as “Mr. Joe the Barber.” Though his father and mother, a homemaker, provided the necessities for their children, they were considered poor for the times. In what could be considered a foreshadowing of Francis's lifelong career path, his parents believed strongly in the benefits and importance of education for their children. They expressed that belief by sending their children to Catholic schools and making sure they kept up with their studies.

Francis attended Saint Paul Catholic High School in Lafayette, Louisiana. He was the class president and valedictorian. After graduating from Saint Paul in 1948, Francis entered Xavier University of New Orleans. In 1952 he earned his BA degree from Xavier and enrolled in Loyola ...

Article

Russell W. Irvine

educator and emigrationist, was born in bucolic Rutland, Vermont. Freeman's life can be divided into two periods: his thirty-seven-year residence in America and his twenty-five-year stay in Liberia, Africa. In Rutland, he attended the predominantly white East Parish Congregational Church, whose pastor recognized Freeman's precocity and volunteered to prepare him for college. Freeman was accepted into Middlebury College and graduated class salutatorian in 1849. He taught briefly in Boston before accepting an invitation to join the faculty of the newly established Allegheny Institute and Mission Church (later Avery College) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1850. Freeman's appointment at the first state-chartered degree-granting institution for blacks distinguished him as the first college-educated black professor in America. In recognition of his advanced study in mathematics and natural philosophy, Middlebury College voted to award him an M.A. degree in 1852. In 1856 when Avery College s first white president ...

Article

Rose C. Thevenin

college president, pastor, and educator, was born in Richmond, Virginia, and attended public schools. He received his undergraduate degree in Education from Bluefield State College in West Virginia in 1933. The following year he earned a master's degree in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. Gray began his teaching career as professor of chemistry, professor of education, principal of the demonstration schools, and field director of Extension Services at Southern University in Louisiana. In the 1930s he married Hazel Yates in Louisiana. The couple had two children, a daughter Marion and a son William Herbert Gray III.

Upon the death of Nathan White Collier, the president of Florida Normal and Industrial Institute (FNII) in 1941, Gray was appointed president of that institution in 1942 and moved his family to St Augustine Florida There he sought to improve the financial crisis of FNII which ...

Article

Ebenezer Ayesu

chief (traditional ruler), economist, business leader, university administrator, and philanthropist, was born Emmanuel Noi Omaboe on 29 October 1930 in Amanokrom, Akuapem in the eastern region of Ghana. His parents were Madam Mary Opibea Awuku of the royal Asona family of Amanokrom and Mr. Peter Nortey Omaboe, a prominent goldsmith resident at Mamfe and a citizen of Osu. He was enrolled in Mamfe Presbyterian Junior School from 1936 to 1942, completed his primary education at the Suhum Presbyterian Senior School in 1945, and from 1946 to 1950 studied at Accra Academy. There, he was a peer of several students who would be future leaders of Ghana, including Peter Ala Adjetey, who went on to a career as a noted lawyer and speaker of Ghana’s parliament (2000–2004). In 1951 he entered the University College of the Gold Coast now the University of Ghana to study economics ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

minister, educator, and humanitarian, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Hughes Proctor, who worked at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and Velma Gladys. His parents had met as students at Norfolk Mission College, the same college attended by Velma's parents; Hughes's mother had attended Hampton Institute during Reconstruction. It was unusual for a black family to have such educated parents and grandparents so soon after slavery, and Samuel and his six siblings were raised to believe that educational attainment was natural and expected. Music and religious devotion also helped shape Samuel's childhood. His father played the violin, he played the clarinet, and the other children were each encouraged to learn an instrument. They entertained themselves at home, and they all sang in the choir of the Baptist church founded by his great-grandfather Zechariah Hughes.

As a boy Samuel shined shoes at local barbershops one ...

Article

Nancy Elizabeth Fitch

educator, cofounder of the Afro-Virginian state teacher's association, and principal and president of historically black institutions of higher education, was born in slavery, in the governor's mansion in Richmond, Virginia, the son of S. Frank Trigg and Sarah Ann (maiden name unknown), members of Governor John B. Floyd's household staff. According to his obituary, Trigg received an early education in Richmond before returning with the household to Abingdon, Virginia. When the former governor joined the Confederacy, Trigg accompanied him to Tennessee where he served as his body servant. In 1863 after returning to Abingdon, John Floyd died and Trigg became the property of Floyd's son-in-law.

Following a farming accident that cost Trigg his right arm, he decided he should continue his education and he entered Hampton Institute in around 1870. Hampton Institute was founded by General Samuel Chapman Armstrong a leading American advocate of industrial ...

Article

Adriel A. Hilton

educator, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Adelia Leonard Smith, an elementary school teacher, and Frank David Smith. Wheelan graduated from St. Gerard Catholic High School of San Antonio, Texas, in 1968. In 1968 Wheelan entered Trinity University of San Antonio, Texas, and graduated in 1972 with a double major in psychology and sociology. She became the first African American at Trinity to be included in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. It was to be the first of many milestones in a career that covered more than three decades. She went on to study at Louisiana State University and received a Master of Arts degree in Developmental/Educational Psychology in 1974. That same year, Wheelan became an associate professor at Alamo Community College District at San Antonio College. Recognizing the importance of advanced education, she left that position in 1984 to enroll in ...