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Jean Smith

was born on 28 May 1953 in Clarendon, Jamaica, to Eckford Ellington, an educator, and Mary “Mae” Williams, a homemaker. She had three brothers from other unions. It was her mother’s interest in community associations and volunteerism that laid a foundation for Ellington’s future work in community service.

Fae attended St. Hugh’s High School in Kingston, Jamaica, where she discovered her interest in the performing arts. At St. Hugh’s she was a member of the drama society, the school choir, and orchestra (playing the recorder and the triangle). She also rose to the position of president of the debating society. Her talents earned her one of four places in a television commercial when she was in third form, earning her twenty-one shillings.

A strong interest in drama led her to the Jamaica School of Drama, where she was a foundation member, and a career in theater that began in 1971 ...

Article

Anthony A. Lee

Badi Foster was born in Chicago to an interracial Baha'i family. His father (William) was black, and his mother (Ruth) was white. When Badi (which means “wonderful” in Arabic and is the name of a celebrated Baha'i martyr) was eleven, his parents moved to Morocco as pioneers (missionaries) for the Baha'i religion. He spent his adolescence in that country, learning French and Arabic. He attended the American School in Casablanca to the eighth grade, and then transferred to the American School of Tangiers where he completed his high school education in 1960.

As a consequence of learning new languages and negotiating new cultures Foster discovered that although Morocco had its own structures of inequality and oppression American notions of race were unknown there He explains that as a boy therefore he was vaccinated against racism never internalizing ideas or racial inferiority and gaining important insights even as a teenager ...

Article

Cynthia Current

entrepreneur, abolitionist lecturer, and autobiographer, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the only child of Clarissa Haywood and Edward Lane. Clarissa Haywood was the slave of Sherwood Haywood, an agent for the Bank of Newburn and clerk of the North Carolina State Senate from 1786 to 1798. Edward Lane belonged to John Haywood, the brother of Sherwood Haywood, and though manumitted at the death of John, circa 1830, continued to serve the family as a steward for fourteen years. As a slave, Lunsford Lane was fortunate to be raised by both of his parents who were certainly models for what Lane would later achieve in his life.

About the time that Lane became emotionally aware of his enslaved state when set to work at the age of ten or eleven he recalls that his father gave him a basket of peaches ...

Article

Lisa C. Lakes

author, businessman, and inspirational speaker, was born Clifton LeMoure Taulbert in Glen Allan, Mississippi, the eldest child of Mary Esther Taulbert, a schoolteacher who later became a Head Start Center director, and Willie Jones, a Baptist preacher. Because his mother was unmarried at the time of his birth, Taulbert's great-grandparents, Joe and Pearl Young, raised him so his mother could continue her education. When his great-grandmother became too ill to care for him, Taulbert moved to live with his great-aunt, Mrs. Elna Peters Boose, or “Ma Ponk.”

Taulbert s childhood memories included patronizing the black minstrel show working with his uncle in an icehouse and being the first black hired to work in the white owned Hilton Food Store Before graduating from high school Taulbert worked the cash register in addition to his duties of stocking cleaning and delivering groceries A bright and ...

Article

Don Schanche

Georgia commissioner of labor, state representative, and lawyer, was born in Athens, Georgia, the youngest of nine children of Sidney and Vanilla Thurmond. His parents were sharecroppers.

Athens is home to the University of Georgia, which remained segregated until Thurmond was eight years old. Thurmond's home in rural Clarke County was a world away from the university. He recalled, “I was sixteen before we got an indoor bathroom” (author's interview with Thurmond, 2005). But his parents made education a priority. All the Thurmond children finished high school and four of them—including Michael—finished college.

Thurmond attended segregated schools until his senior year in high school, when the county schools were consolidated in 1971. The black high school, Burney Harris was slated for closure not integration and Thurmond led an unsuccessful protest against the closing When the school board sought and won an injunction to ...

Article

Chesya Burke

civil rights activist, was born Rosina Harvey in Northwest Washington, D.C., to Lee Roy and Henrietta Harvey. The daughter of former slaves, she said her parents never talked about those days. “Very few former slaves talked about it,” she later said in the hour-long 1982 documentary Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle, “I overheard them talking to each other, but they didn't discuss it with the children.” Tucker's father taught himself how to read and always instilled the value of a good education to his nine children.

After graduating from M Street High School, Tucker married Reverend James Corrothers on 2 December 1899. The two soon had one son, Henry Harvey Corrothers. The couple lived in New York for a while and then moved back to Washington, D.C., in 1904.

After her husband died in 1917 Tucker worked as a clerk for the ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

barber, real estate agent, accomplished debater and public speaker, leader of the pre and post civil war African American community in Philadelphia, was born free in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Josiah C. and Julia Wears. Josiah Wears was born in Virginia, where his father had been enslaved but purchased his own freedom and his wife's. The family moved to Philadelphia when Isaiah Wears was still a child, joining Mother Bethel AME church. Toward the end of his life, his birth year was estimated as 1822, but 1850 and 1870 census records give his age as thirty‐one and fifty‐one.

In the early 1840s, Wears married a woman from Delaware named Lydia. He was elected in 1846, shortly after the birth of their first daughter, Mary, to a delegation from Philadelphia for the Pennsylvania State Negro Suffrage Convention. As a delegate in 1854 to the National Negro ...