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politician, was born on Cincinnati's segregated west side, the older of two brothers born to George Blackwell, a meatpacker, and Dana Blackwell, a part-time nurse. Until he was six years old, the family lived in the Laurel Homes housing project. Blackwell would later attribute his character to his father's work ethic, his mother's reading and lessons from the Bible, and the parents' strong promotion of education. He graduated from Hughes High School in 1966, and attended Cincinnati's Xavier University on a football scholarship. A well-regarded and physically imposing athlete—he stood at 6 feet 4 inches, 220 pounds—Blackwell was also seen by his peers as a radical black campus leader, donning daishikis and wearing his hair in an Afro, serving as president of the black students association, and lobbying the administration in civil rights issues.

In his sophomore year, Blackwell married his childhood girlfriend, Rosa whom ...


Katya Leney-Hall

Egyptian diplomat, jurist and scholar who, during 1992–1996, served as the sixth Secretary-General (SG) of the United Nations (UN), the first African and Arab to hold the position, was born in Cairo on 14 November 1922 into a distinguished Coptic Christian family. His grandfather, Boutros-Ghali Pasha, was the Egyptian minister for finance and, from 1894, foreign affairs. He was prime minister from 1908 to 1910 when he was assassinated by a nationalist angered with his advocacy of the extension of the Suez Canal Company s concession Boutros Boutros Ghali pointed out in an interview that the reality was that the population was happy to get rid of a Christian and his grandfather s assassination set off a wave of Coptic Muslim clashes Although not overtly religious himself his family s history status and influence on the Coptic Church were to form Boutros Ghali who would later perceive ...


Robert Fay

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was born to a prominent Coptic Christian family in Egypt. His grandfather, Boutros Pasha Boutros-Ghali, served as prime minister of Egypt under the British protectorate from 1908 until his assassination in 1910. The younger Boutros-Ghali graduated from the University of Cairo in 1946 with a bachelor’s degree, and went on to earn a doctorate in international law in 1949 from the Sorbonne in Paris. Boutros-Ghali pursued postdoctoral work at Columbia University in New York City, and then assumed a post as professor of international law and international affairs at the University of Cairo. He worked as a journalist, writing for the daily Al Ahram. He also held teaching posts at Princeton University in the United States, and at universities in India, Poland, and Tanzania. In October 1977 Boutros-Ghali left his academic career to serve in the government of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat as ...


Arthur Matthew Holst

politician, was born Willie Lewis Brown Jr. in Mineola, Texas, to Lewis Brown, a part-time waiter, and Minnie Collins, a maid. From the age of four he was raised by his mother and his grandmother, Anna Lee Collins, after his father abandoned the family. What Brown lacked in wealth was more than made up for by the caring and love given to him by these two women and his three siblings. Driven by his desire to make his mother and grandmother proud, he tackled any task given to him with determination. Later in life he said of his family, “They believed in me, taught me the value of hard work and the importance of education, and nurtured my sense of dignity of self worth.”

Willie Brown s childhood was plagued by segregation racism and hatred In a society where Jim Crow laws were the norm Brown excelled ...


Kate Tuttle

After serving thirty-one years in the California State Assembly—the last fifteen as speaker, the second most powerful position in the state—Democrat Willie Brown announced in 1995 that he would run for mayor of San Francisco. The 1990 passage of state term limits had effectively ended his tenure as speaker. But the law, which some believed was specially designed to end Brown's long political career, merely forced him to seek new challenges. Following his mayoral victory over incumbent Frank Jordan, Brown gave the citizens of his adopted hometown an inaugural celebration that symbolized the qualities for which the city and its mayor are famous: style, exuberance, and inclusiveness.

A native of Mineola, Texas, Brown moved to San Francisco in 1951 to attend San Francisco State University (then San Francisco State College), from which he graduated in 1955 He went on to earn a law degree from California s Hastings ...


Christine G. Brown

writer and editor, was born in 1890; his parents’ names and his birthplace are now unknown. Little is known of his early life and education. He married Thelma Johnson, with whom he had one daughter. Carter and his wife lived in New York City at the same address, 409 Edgecombe Avenue, from the 1940s until their deaths.

A devoted New Yorker, Carter was a prolific writer and speaker for civil rights, especially concerning jobs, housing, and public office. A committed member of the National Urban League, on 23 July 1928 he delivered a speech on employment and fair housing issues during Negro Week on the Common. In September of that year he took over the editorship of Opportunity: Journal of Negro Life, the Urban League's in-house magazine, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson stepped down as editor With more than 10 000 subscribers when Carter took over the ...


Charles Rosenberg

reporter and columnist for the Pittsburgh Courier, New York City radio journalist, special assistant to New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, and member of several government panels on women's advocacy and cultural institutions, was born Evelyn Elizabeth Long in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. She was the only daughter and eldest child of Clyde L. and Mary Irvin Whitehurst Long.

Her father ran a pool hall in Elizabeth City, then moved the family, including son Clyde W., born in 1918, to New York. He found work there as a hotel bellman, and later drove a taxi, while Mary Long found work as a dressmaker to a private family. In New York, Evelyn Long graduated from Hunter College High School in 1934 During a life of ninety four years she married four times outliving all four husbands She had no children and took the name she used professionally ...


Susan Love Brown

journalist, educator, politician, and statesman. Mervyn Malcolm Dymally, born in Cedros, Trinidad, achieved many “firsts” in American politics. His mother, Andreid Richardson, of Trinidadian descent, and his father, Hamid Dymally, of South Asian descent, educated him through high school, at Naparima College in San Fernando, Trinidad, after which he worked as a reporter for the Oilfields Workers Trade Union newspaper, The Vanguard, in Trinidad. This spurred his interest in a journalistic career, which took him to Lincoln University in Missouri at the age of nineteen. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences, where he majored in education, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1954. From then on he combined education, politics, and involvement in international issues as the interests that guided his career.

While working as a science special education teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District ...


Susan J. McWilliams

legislator and activist, was born Grace Towns in Atlanta, Georgia, the second of five children of George Alexander Towns, a professor of English and pedagogy at Atlanta University, and Nellie McNair, a graduate of the same institution. Both of her parents placed a high premium on education, civic involvement, and political activism. George Towns was a protégé and friend of W. E. B. Du Bois, publicly supporting his clashes with Booker T. Washington and independently striving to increase the ranks of African American voters. Nellie Towns, meanwhile, volunteered extensively in the community; she worked with the First Congregational Church and the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), and she helped found the Gate City Free Kindergarten Association, which assisted children of the black working poor. In this environment, the young Grace Towns grew up with senses of relative privilege and social obligation.

For a time Towns was ...


Sowande' Mustakeem

Grace Towns Hamilton is best known as the first African American woman to serve in the Georgia legislature. Throughout her political career, Hamilton upheld the ideals of interracial cooperation, but her continued activism reflected her faithful commitment to political empowerment and the improvement of social conditions for African Americans.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Hamilton was the eldest of the four surviving children of George Towns and Nellis McNair Towns Raised in the close knit community of Atlanta on the campus of Atlanta University Hamilton was protected during her early life from the racism that was common throughout much of Georgia Within the Towns s home education church community involvement and service to the black race were emphasized Hamilton s mother a housewife and committed volunteer for the African American branch of the Young Women Christian Association YWCA played a role in Hamilton s later community activism and personal ...


Anthony Matthews

bank teller and Connecticut's first African American state representative, was born Wilfred Xavier Johnson in Dawson, Georgia. His parents were Eugene and Griselda Johnson, who arrived in Hartford in 1925 as part of the Great Migration. Wilfred Johnson was educated in Hartford, attending Northeast School and then graduating from Weaver High School in 1939. He later attended Hillyer College at the University of Hartford and the American Institute of Banking. After serving in the U.S. Army as a technician in World War II, in 1943 Johnson started work for the Hartford National Bank as a messenger. He was then promoted to the analysis department, later becoming the first black bank teller at any bank in Connecticut. As such he was warned that he might face opposition from customers and employees who did not want African Americans in such positions.

Johnson first entered politics in 1953 as a ...


Bonnie Newman Davis

attorney and first African American mayor of Dallas. Ronald Kirk was born in Austin, Texas, the son of Lee Kirk, a postal clerk, and Willie Mae Kirk, a schoolteacher. The youngest of four children, Kirk grew up in largely segregated Austin. Kirk's mother was strict, making sure that her children had good manners, spoke well, and received good grades in school. Kirk complied, becoming a cellist in the orchestra, state president of the Teenage March of Dimes, and an officer in Jack and Jill, a service and leadership organization.

When Kirk was in junior high school, Austin's school system became integrated, and racial and ethnic tensions were common. Later, at the integrated John H. Reagan High School Kirk s early political aspirations took hold when he was elected president of the student council Still he struggled to find his self identity Black students called him Uncle Tom ...


Daryl A. Carter

U.S.Trade Representative, was born Ronald Kirk in Austin, Texas, the youngest of four children of Lee Kirk, a postal worker, and Willie Mae Kirk, a schoolteacher. Kirk attended public schools in Austin and, like his family, was politically active from a young age. He was elected to serve as president of the student council during his senior year. Following his high school studies, he enrolled at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, where he studied political science and sociology. Kirk received his B.A.in 1976. Afterward, Kirk decided on a career in law and enrolled at the University of Texas Law School. In 1979 Kirk was awarded his law degree and set out to practice in the private sector. He married Matrice Ellis in 1987; the couple had two daughters, Elizabeth and Catherine.

Using his knowledge of the law and his political acumen Kirk accepted in ...


Timothy M. Broughton

civil rights leader and politician, was born John Luzine LeFlore in Mobile, Alabama, the son of Dock LeFlore and Clara Barber. The fifth of five children, John LeFlore was born two years after the ratification of Alabama's Sixth Constitution. Aware of the limited opportunities afforded to blacks, Dock LeFlore taught his family to be proud and hardworking, and he brought them into Mobile's black middle class. Although he died when John LeFlore was only nine months old, his values and work ethic had a lasting influence. John LeFlore sold newspapers at the age of ten and landed a job at the local shipyard at thirteen.

In 1920 LeFlore graduated from Owens Academy in Mobile, one of the few good schools for black students. In 1922 he married Teah Jessie Beck and began work as a postal worker. While riding on the city's railcar in 1925 a white ...


Karen Mason

public librarian and activist, was the second of three children born to the painter Reuben Hearde Matthews and the homemaker Fannie Elijah Matthews in Pensacola, Florida. Matthews's paternal grandparents were schoolteachers, and her maternal grandfather, Zebulon Elijah, was Pensacola's first postmaster. Despite a relatively comfortable life the Matthews chose to move Miriam and her siblings, Ella Shaw and Charles Hearde, to Los Angeles in 1907 in order to shield them from the inevitable limitations of racism and segregation in the South. The entire family flourished socially and professionally in their new city. Miriam Matthews distinguished herself as a trailblazer by becoming in 1927 the first known credentialed African American librarian in the Los Angeles Public Library system, where she enjoyed a thirty-three-year career first as a branch librarian, then as a regional librarian after 1949 During her tenure she became recognized for her expertise in documenting ...


Thomas E. Carney

state legislator and civil rights activist, was the eldest son of civil rights activist Clarence Mitchell Jr. and Juanita Jackson Mitchell. He has born in St. Paul, Minnesota, where his father served as the first executive secretary of the local Urban League chapter. In 1941 the family moved to Baltimore where Mitchell attended the local schools and graduated from Gonzaga College High School in Washington, DC. He later attended Morgan State University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Baltimore Law School.

Mitchell began his public career as a civil rights activist in 1960, when he helped to organize local sit-ins and a very successful local voter registration drive. In the summer of 1961 he organized the picketing of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company and the Potomac Telephone Company those actions culminated in the hiring of skilled black workers by both companies He also served on ...


Anne K. Driscoll

politician and social worker, was born Carrie Saxon in Hartford, Connecticut, the only child of Mabel Lee Saxon. Growing up in Hartford's housing projects exposed Perry to the crushing effects of poverty and crime. But rather than being defeated by it, Perry persevered and went on to become a force for change. Perry graduated from high school in 1949 and then attended Howard University, where she earned a bachelor of science in Political Science in 1953. During this time she married James Perry Sr. They had one child, James Perry Jr. Perry entered Howard's School of Law that same year, but did not complete the law program. Instead she returned in 1955 to Hartford where she became a social worker While she served in many professions they all had one element in common The positions involved helping the people of Hartford to have better ...


Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

civil rights activist, first African American to serve on the Miami City Commission, and first since Reconstruction to head a state agency, was born Mary Athalie Wilkinson in Key West, Florida, to Edward L. Wilkinson, a cigar factory and loading dock foreman, and Grace Shultz.

Range's family moved to Miami around 1921. She graduated from Booker T. Washington Senior High School in Overtown, a historically black town established when blacks were not allowed to live in segregated Miami. During World War II, she worked picking up trash from railroad cars. In 1937 she married Oscar Range. A certified funeral director, he opened the Range Funeral Home in Miami in 1953. They had four children.

When her husband died of a heart attack in 1960 Athalie Range enrolled in the New England Institute of Anatomy Sanitary Science and Embalming Boston Massachusetts where she earned her ...


Sherrow O. Pinder

U.S. Congresswoman representing California's 37th District, was born in Los Angeles. Her father, a graduate of Northwestern University, who was a member of the Teamsters labor union, was black and her mother was white. When she was two years old, her parents divorced, and she and her sister were raised by their mother, Maryann Richardson. In 1984, Richardson graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California–Los Angeles. In 1987, three years after she graduated, she began working for the Xerox Corporation and was employed there for fourteen years. During this time, she attended the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and, in 1996, received her master's degree in business administration. Richardson was married to Anthony Batts, who was then the chief of police of Long Beach, California. The couple subsequently divorced.

From 2000 to 2006 Richardson served ...


Daryl A. Carter

politician and Republican Party chair, was born Michael Stephen Steele at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and adopted by William and Maebell Steele. By the time Steele was five, his father had passed away; his mother later married John Tucker. He grew up in northwest Washington, DC. At Archbishop Carroll Roman Catholic High School, Steele became interested in the theater and politics. He was a part of numerous organizations, such as the Glee Club and the student body council. In addition, he was a member of the National Honor Society. After graduating from high school in 1976, Steele continued his education at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He later acknowledged that he experienced some difficulties in his early undergraduate year, Steele earned a B.A. in International Studies in 1981 He studied for the priesthood at Villanova but left believing that the ...