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Luther Adams

civil rights activist, historian, and legal scholar. Mary Frances Berry was born in Nashville, Tennessee, one of three children of George and Frances Berry. Like many African Americans, Berry experienced racial segregation as well as poverty while growing up in the South. As children she and her older brother George were placed in an orphanage during a period of economic crisis.

At Nashville's segregated Pearl High School, Berry was encouraged by the educator Minerva Hawkins to apply herself seriously to her studies. After graduation Berry attended Fisk University and then transferred to Howard University, where she earned a BA in philosophy in 1961 and an MA in history in 1962. She continued her studies at the University of Michigan, where she earned a PhD in U.S. and constitutional history and a doctorate of jurisprudence.

As a scholar, Berry's numerous publications include Black Resistance White Law ...

Article

Peter Glenshaw

The second of three children born to George and Frances Berry, Mary Frances Berry was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and experienced the racial discrimination of the segregated South. Economic struggle led her parents to send her and her older brother George Jr. to an orphanage temporarily, a period Berry likened to a “horror story.”

Despite her considerable intellect, Berry remained an indifferent student until gaining the attention and support of Minerva Hawkins, one of only three black teachers at Nashville's segregated Pearl High School. According to Berry, Hawkins exhorted Berry to develop her intellectual gifts, telling her that she could do “all the things I would have done if it had been possible for me.” Thus heartened, Berry applied herself to her studies and gained a deep interest in a broad range of subjects. She attended Nashville's Fisk University studying philosophy history and chemistry before transferring ...

Article

John R. Howard

scholar and civil rights advocate, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, to George Berry, a laborer, and Frances Southall, a beautician. She was the middle child between two brothers. After attending public schools in Nashville, she entered Howard University where she received her bachelor of arts degree in 1961 and her master of arts degree in 1962. During the 1962–1963 academic year she was a teaching fellow at Howard University, after which she moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to pursue a doctorate in history at the University of Michigan. She served as a teaching assistant during the 1965–1966 academic year and, after completing work on her PhD in 1966, was appointed assistant professor in the Department of History. In 1968 she was promoted to associate professor. Simultaneously she pursued the study of law and in 1970 received her JD degree from the University of Michigan Law ...

Article

Genna Rae McNeil

Mary Frances Berry has to her credit a number of impressive firsts. She was the first African American woman to serve as chancellor of a major research university and the first African American woman to hold the post of the nation’s chief educational officer. Her 1984 lawsuit against President Ronald Reagan to reaffirm the independence of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, as well as her sit-in, arrest, and incarceration in protest of racial injustice in South Africa, established a place for her in the national and international press. In the twenty-first century, Berry raised the ire of Republicans and achieved a new level of prominence among defenders of democracy when she led the independent U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in an investigation of the “Voting Irregularities in Florida during the 2000 Presidential Election.”

Berry s place in history however was created not only by significant appointments and political activism ...

Article

Joseph Wilson and David Addams

a central figure in the civil rights and human rights movement in the United States as an activist, attorney, and scholar. Born in New York City in 1940, William Haywood Burns helped integrate the swimming pool in Peekskill, New York, at fifteen years of age and was a leader in the struggle for human rights and civil rights over the next four decades. He graduated from Harvard College in 1962. As a law student at Yale University, he participated in the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi. He already had authored The Voices of Negro Protest (1963), which critiqued the leadership and mass character of the civil rights movement, and throughout his career he contributed chapters to other books. He was assistant counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in the late 1960s. Later he served as general counsel to Martin Luther King Jr.'s ...

Article

Nigerian human rights advocate and legal scholar, was born on 22 April 1938 in Ondo, a city in southwestern Nigeria. His father, Saheed Tugbobo Fawehinmi, was a wealthy businessman who promoted political reforms in the colonial administration, such as lower taxes for poor people. Fawehinmi shared his father’s Muslim faith, which was highly unusual in Ondo. Lisa Alujanu Fawehinmi, one of his grandfathers, had fought the British occupation of Ondo in the late nineteenth century. Fawehinmi’s predisposition for rebellion thus made him part of family tradition. Gani, as he was known, impressed his teachers at various primary and secondary schools. He attended Ansar-Ud-Deen primary school from 1947 to 1953 and the Victory College secondary school in Ikare under the noted teacher Reverend Akinrele His headmaster at Victory College wrote a letter to Fawehinmi s father telling him that his son would make an outstanding attorney Fawehinmi became known as ...

Article

Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

, Zimbabwean politician and academic who came to the limelight through an active life in student politics, civil society activity, and mainstream national politics in 1999, was born on 7 July 1961. His father was Gideon Gidi Mathonsi Ncube, who was killed by the Fifth Brigade in the 1980s. The Fifth Brigade was a brutal wing of the Zimbabwe National Army that was answerable to President Robert Mugabe and that targeted all those, especially the Ndebele-speaking minority, that supported the Patriotic Front–Zimbabwe African People’s Union (PF-ZAPU) led by Dr. Joshua Nkomo. His mother was Lydia Diya Ncube (née Nyathi). Ncube grew up in Lower Gwelu (now known as Lower Gweru) under Chief Sogwala in a rural communal village called Maboleni.

Ncube started his schooling at Makhulambila Primary School in a neighboring village called Makhulambila some 5 kilometers from his parents homestead In this school he attended grades one ...