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John C. Fredriksen

soldier and engineer, was born in Thomasville, Georgia, the son of Festus Flipper and Isabelle (maiden name unknown), slaves. During the Civil War and Reconstruction he was educated in American Missionary Association schools and in 1873 gained admission to Atlanta University. That year Flipper also obtained an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy through the auspices of Republican Representative James C. Freeman. He was not the first African American to attend West Point, as Michael Howard and James Webster Smith preceded him in 1870, but neither graduated. Flipper subsequently endured four years of grueling academic instruction and ostracism from white classmates before graduating fiftieth in a class of sixty-four on 14 June 1877. He was commissioned second lieutenant in the all-black Tenth U. S. Cavalry, and the following year recounted his academy experience in an autobiography, The Colored Cadet at West Point (1878 ...

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James N. Leiker

soldier, engineer, and author. Although Flipper is best remembered as the first African American graduate of West Point, he later had an important career as an authority on the border between the United States and Mexico. Born into slavery in Thomasville, Georgia, Henry was the son of Festus and Isabella Flipper. His father, a slave and local shoemaker, and his mother, the slave of a Methodist minister, believed in the importance of formal education, and this was a value they passed on to their sons during the heady optimism of Reconstruction. While attending Atlanta University, Flipper attracted the attention of a local congressman, who appointed him to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The social atmosphere at West Point proved difficult and demanding for its handful of young black cadets, but Flipper persevered and graduated in 1877 A prolific writer he chronicled this ...

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Olivia A. Scriven

mathematician, college professor, and public school reformer, was born Evelyn Boyd, the second of two girls of William Boyd, a blue-collar worker who held various jobs as a custodian, chauffeur, and messenger, and Julia Walker Boyd, a civil servant who worked for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing during the Depression. Granville received her early education in the pre–Brown v. Board of Education era of separate but equal public schools for blacks and whites Despite the dual system Boyd would later insist that she received a quality education in elementary and middle school and later at Dunbar High School one of three public high schools in the Washington D C area designated for black students Dunbar had a reputation for high academic standards and for emphasizing the importance of racial pride and personal excellence Recalling that period Granville writes My generation benefited ...

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Robert G. McGuire

Born a slave in Georgia on August 14, 1858, Andrew Franklin Hilyer was taken to Nebraska as a child by his mother. At her death he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he was befriended by the wealthy Gale and Pillsbury families. In 1882 he graduated from the University of Minnesota. He then moved to Washington, D.C., where he received his LL.B. (bachelor of laws) in 1884 and his LL.M. (master of laws) in 1885 from Howard University. In 1886 he married Mamie Elizabeth Nichols a descendant of free blacks who had lived in the Washington area for several generations The Hilyers had two sons Gale P and Franklin and one daughter Kathleen Hilyer served as a Class II clerk in the Treasury Department and later as a member of the Interior Department Division of the General Accounting Office Seven years after the death of his first wife ...

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James McCarthy

Scottish explorer and geographer of Africa, was born in Edinburgh in 1844. Alexander Keith Johnston was the son of the eminent geographer and cartographer of the same name, who had established the highly respected engraving and mapmaking firm of W. & A. K. Johnston with his brother William. Although the young Keith was educated at prestigious schools in the Scottish capital, he was also tutored carefully by his father, and learned those European languages in which significant geographical material was published. Like his father, Keith’s interest extended well beyond conventional cartography, and he made important contributions to oceanography, hydrology, and global climatic influences. Both were influential figures in the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), itself the most important national institution in the promotion of worldwide discovery and the development of the nineteenth-century British Empire, not least in Africa.

After a period as superintendent of drawing and engraving at the prestigious ...

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Kenneth R. Manning

zoologist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Charles Fraser Just, a carpenter and wharf builder, and Mary Mathews Cooper. Following his father's death in 1887, his mother moved the family to James Island, off the South Carolina coast. There she labored in phosphate mines, opened a church and a school, and mobilized farmers into a moss-curing enterprise. A dynamic community leader, she was the prime mover behind the establishment of a township—Maryville—named in her honor. Maryville served as a model for all-black town governments elsewhere.

Just attended his mother's school, the Frederick Deming Jr. Industrial School, until the age of twelve. Under her influence, he entered the teacher-training program of the Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural and Mechanical College (now South Carolina State College) in Orangeburg, South Carolina, in 1896. After graduating in 1899 he attended Kimball Union Academy in Meriden New ...

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Reginald H. Pitts

inventor, entrepreneur, and historian, was born in what is now Gardiner, Maine, the son of Matthias Lewis, a farm laborer of Mohegan Indian ancestry. Nothing is now known of Lewis's mother. Sometime after 28 July 1800 Lewis's father married Lucy Stockbridge of Pittston, Maine, the daughter of African slaves. It is not known whether this marriage legalized a longstanding relationship or was Matthias's actual second marriage.

Although little is known of Lewis's early life, it appears that he first went to sea in ships that worked the Atlantic rim and the coastal trade down to the Caribbean. It is known that Lewis wanted to become a missionary to Africa; after his death, his neighbors remembered, “it was said … that the Congregational Church in Hallowell [where Lewis moved around 1820 had in consequence of the intelligence he had manifested in youth obtained for him an ...

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Katrina D. Thompson

chemist, social scientist, and writer, was born in Garfield Heights, Washington, D.C., the son of William Harrison Lewis and Mary (Over) Lewis, of whom little else is known. In 1899 there were only four academic public schools in the segregated Washington, D.C., area, and only one of these was open to African Americans. Lewis attended the noted Dunbar High School, then known as M Street School. Because African Americans with advanced degrees had few other opportunities, during the 1920s three Dunbar teachers held the PhD degree, which was certainly unusual and perhaps unique in American public secondary education.

After attending Dunbar, Lewis graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, with a bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1925 While at Brown Lewis became the first undergraduate initiate of the Alpha Gamma Chapter of the first African American fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha Two years after graduating ...

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Ariel Bookman

Kenyan pioneer, horse trainer, aviator, and memoirist, was born on 26 October 1902 in Ashwell, Leicestershire, England, to Charles Clutterbuck, a former army officer, and Clara, née Alexander. Her parents, attracted by the intensive British government effort to promote white settlement in Kenya (then British East Africa), moved there with Beryl and her older brother Richard in 1904. Beryl’s early life was thus shaped by the unique opportunities open to a white child in a frontier colony: she spoke Swahili nearly as early as she did English; learned hunting, games, and mythology from her father’s Nandi tenants; and grew to recognize herself as part of Africa. As she phrased it in her 1942 memoir West with the Night with characteristic, figurative simplicity, “My feet were on the earth of Africa” (134).

Her mother soon returned with Richard to England where she remarried According to one of Markham s biographers ...

Article

'Kale Oyedeji

mathematician, theoretical physicist, and university professor, was born in Petersburg, Virginia, the son of Joseph Percivall Mickens, a carpenter, and Daisy Brown Williamson, a house wife. His twin brothers Calvin and Carroll were born a year later on 13 February 1944. As a child, Mickens's interest in mathematics and science was sparked by his maternal grandfather who taught him to read and write, and discussed the nature of science. As a consequence, in high school, he enrolled in all of the available courses in these areas. After graduation from Peabody High School, in 1960, he entered Fisk University where in 1964 he completed a BA in Physics with a minor in mathematics. Mickens continued his education at Vanderbilt University and earned a doctoral degree in Theoretical Physics in August 1968. From 1968 to 1970 he continued his research in high energy ...

Article

Ptolemy  

Prudence Jones

was an ancient Alexandrian astronomer geographer and philosopher Almost nothing is known about the life of Claudius Ptolemy or as he would have called himself Claudius Ptolemaeus From astronomical observations he made in Alexandria we know he was active between 127 and 141 CE As a scientist in Alexandria he was probably connected with the Library of Alexandria His name indicates that he was a Roman citizen and that citizenship was probably conferred upon him or upon one of his ancestors by someone named Claudius perhaps even the emperor Claudius He shares the name Ptolemy with the rulers of the Ptolemaic dynasty which controlled Egypt from 323 to 30 BCE although there is no evidence that he was related to that family The name Ptolemaeus could indicate that he was born in the Egyptian city of Ptolemais but it is not known whether he was born there or at Alexandria ...

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Amy Sparks Kolker

noted astrophysicist, astronomer, and writer, was born in New York City, second of three children born to Cyril deGrasse Tyson, a former commissioner for human resources for the mayor of New York City, and Sunchita Tyson a gerontologist Tyson grew up in New York City attending the Bronx High School of Science His interest in science particularly astronomy began early when he was nine years old he saw his first magnified view of the moon through a pair of binoculars Receiving a telescope for his twelfth birthday only furthered his already intense fascination with the universe Tyson also took regular trips to the Hayden Planetarium and benefited from the classes offered there When he was fourteen years old he participated in an astronomy camp held in the Mojave Desert These experiences gave Tyson enough expertise in the field of astronomy to begin giving lectures on ...