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The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) is the world's oldest learned society dedicated to the promotion, research, preservation, interpretation, and dissemination of information about the life, history, and culture of Africans, African Americans, and the African diaspora. Founded in Chicago on 8 September 1915 as the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History by Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950) and four other people, the association was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia on 3 October 1915. Its stated purposes were to collect sociological and historical data, to publish books on Negro life and history, to promote the study of the Negro through clubs and schools, and to bring about harmony between the races by interpreting the one to the other.

In the beginning the association had very little moral or financial support and its longevity must be ...


Kaavonia Hinton

journalist, editor, and social historian, was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, to Lerone Bennett Sr., a chauffeur, and Alma Reed Bennett, a restaurant cook. Bennett's family later moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where Bennett went to public school. He was born into a family that emphasized the importance of education; his grandmother made college obtainable for each of her thirteen children, and it was expected that Bennett would have that option, too. Surprisingly, he failed his first year of formal schooling. With her son at her side, his mother confronted the principal and the teacher before deciding to enroll her son in a better school. This experience helped Bennett understand that education is an accessible and necessary tool needed to combat racism. An avid reader, he was inspired by his teachers, particularly Mrs. M. D. Manning, to develop an interest in history.

While in his early years ...


E. Renée Ingram

educator, journalist, and lecturer, was born in Washington, D.C., the only child of Josephine Beall Willson Bruce and the U.S. senator Blanche Kelso Bruce, a Republican of Mississippi. When Senator Bruce was to take his oath of office, Mississippi's senior senator James Alcorn refused to escort him to the front of the Senate chamber. An embarrassing silence fell over the chamber until Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York extended his arm to Senator Bruce and escorted him forward. Senator Bruce was so grateful for the courtesy that he named his son for the gentleman from the Empire State.

Roscoe Conkling Bruce Sr. attended the M Street High School in Washington, D.C., and subsequently spent two years (1896–1898 at the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter New Hampshire He won distinction in scholarship and journalism was a member of the Golden Branch the oldest debating society in country ...


Christopher Hogarth

Senegalese intellectual, was born on 10 January 1910 in Saint-Louis, Senegal. Best known as the founder (in 1947) of the literary review and later press Présence Africaine (1949), Diop was a key figure in the movement for the emancipation and recognition of Africa and its cultures.

In his childhood Diop was sent to a qurʾanic school to learn Arabic and the tenets of Islam but was also introduced to Christianity by his maternal aunts As an adult he would be baptized as a Christian in France and given the name Jean After qurʾanic school Diop went to primary school in Dagana and then received his high school education at the Lycée Faidherbe in Saint Louis from which he graduated with a baccalaureate in classics Greek and Latin Since Saint Louis was then among the colonized Senegalese towns considered part of France Diop became a French citizen and ...


Adah Ward Randolph

educator, politician, activist, pastor, author, and Masonic leader, was born in Essex County, Virginia, to free parents of mixed white and black ancestry. In 1831 Virginia outlawed the education of free blacks, and many of them migrated to other states, including Ohio. The Act of 1831 may account for the migration of Ferguson's family to Cincinnati, which Ferguson listed as his home when he attended Albany Manual Labor Academy (AMLA) in Albany, Ohio. While it is unclear how Ferguson attained an elementary education, the Albany Manual Labor University records list T. J. Ferguson of Cincinnati as a student in the collegiate department during the 1857–1859 academic year. James Monroe Trotter, veteran of the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment and musicologist, also attended AMLA. Incorporated as a university in 1853 Albany Manual Labor University AMLU offered an integrated education which accepted students regardless of color ...


Kimberly M. Curtis

historian and activist, was the sixth child born to Willis Hamilton Greene, a teamster, and Harriett Coleman Greene in Ansonia, Connecticut. Lorenzo Johnston Greene attended Ansonia's public schools and participated in his high school's debate team and German club. In 1917 he became Ansonia High School's first African American graduate and the first recipient of the school's History Prize.

After working several jobs to earn money for college, Greene began undergraduate studies in medicine at Howard University in Washington, D.C. During his senior year, however, he enrolled in Greek and English history courses, which inspired him to become a historian. In 1924 he received an AB from Howard and returned to New York City to attend Columbia University's Graduate School. Greene received an MA in history from Columbia in 1926 and continued graduate studies there in pursuit of a PhD in history.

From 1928 to 1933 Greene ...


Yvette Walker

poet, essayist, critic, publisher, and educator. Don L. Lee was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was raised in Detroit by his mother, Maxine Lee, who died of a drug overdose when he was sixteen years old. He has attributed his early race consciousness and self-awareness to his upbringing by his mother and his time as an apprentice and curator at the DuSable Museum of African History in Chicago in 1963. Influenced by the poets Amiri Baraka and Gwendolyn Brooks, Don L. Lee emerged as a major literary artist of the 1960s. His formal education includes undergraduate studies at various universities in Chicago and graduate school at the University of Iowa. Lee took a Swahili name, Haki R. Madhubuti, in 1973.

Madhubuti is one of the defining artists of the Black Arts Movement a cultural phenomenon of the 1960s and 1970s ...


Joshunda Sanders

author, poet, and retired professor at Eastern Michigan University was born in Norfolk, Virginia, to Clarence Marcellus, a Baptist minister, and Maude Hilton Long, a former teacher.

Naomi Cornelia Long Madgett was the youngest of three children and her parents' only daughter. Before Madgett turned two years old, her family moved to East Orange, New Jersey, and she graduated from Ashland Grammar School there. Influenced by her parents' love of education and her father's vast library, Madgett discovered her love for poetry as a girl. “I discovered Alfred Lord Tennyson and Langston Hughes at about the same time [while] sitting on the floor of my father's study when I was about seven or eight,” Madgett said as quoted in the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series. “I think my early poetry represents something of the variety of interest and style that these two widely divergent poets demonstrate.”

Her ...


George F. Wedge

born Naomi Cornelia Long. In “He Lives in Me,” a poem in Adam of Ifé (1992) honoring her father, Clarence Marcellus Long, Sr., Naomi Long Madgett states the principles that underlie her own achievements: faith, integrity, and personal and social responsibility. As a child, she had free access to his book-lined study, discovering early her love of poetry. When she was fifteen, her first collection, Songs to a Phantom Nightingale (1941), was accepted for publication, though two years had elapsed before it appeared. Two editions, containing additional early poems, have been issued: Phantom Nightingale, Juvenilia (1981) and Remembrances of Spring: Early Collected Poems (1993). The second of these also includes her second collection, One and the Many (1956).

Between her first two collections, Madgett completed a BA (Virginia State University, 1945 married settled in Detroit Michigan worked briefly for ...


Leonard L. Brown

musician and school founder, was born in Braidwood, Illinois. His parents' names are unknown. He spent his childhood in Springfield, Illinois, where his family moved when he was a young child. Matthews early expressed an interest in music, and historical accounts credit his mother as his first piano teacher, although he later took lessons from local teachers. A trip to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1904 exposed Matthews to the major African American performers of ragtime, the dominant popular music then. Upon returning to Springfield, Matthews learned ragtime from local performers.

Sometime in 1907 or 1908 Matthews settled in St Louis where he remained for the next seven or eight years with some excursions to Chicago While in St Louis he studied theory arranging composition and organ at the Keeton School of Music He developed into an excellent pianist composer and arranger and his reputation led to his being ...


J. O. J. Nwachukwu-Agbada

Nigerian writer, publisher, and educator, was born Florence Nwanzuruahu Nkiru Nwapa on 13 January 1931 in Oguta, eastern Nigeria, during British colonial rule. Her parents, Christopher Ijeoma and Martha Nwapa, were teachers who sent their daughter to elementary school at the Church Mission Society (C. M. S.) Central School in Oguta between 1936 and 1943. She then attended Archdeacon Crowther Memorial Girls’ School near Port Harcourt and the C. M. S. Girls’ School. After studying at Queen’s College, Lagos, for two years, she briefly taught at Priscilla Memorial Grammar School, Oguta. She earned her BA in 1957 from University College, Ibadan, and continued her studies in Scotland, earning a postgraduate diploma in education in 1958 from the University of Edinburgh.

After returning to Nigeria in 1959 Nwapa worked as a women s education officer in Calabar She taught geography and English at Queen s School in Enugu and ...


Christopher Harter

publisher, poet, and librarian, was born Dudley Felker Randall in Washington, D.C., the son of Arthur Clyde Randall, a Congregational minister, and Ada Viola Randall, a teacher and later a full-time housewife. He was the middle son of five children.

The Randall family moved to Detroit in 1920. Arthur Randall instilled in his sons his interest in politics and would take them to hear black speakers such as W. E. B. Du Bois and James Weldon Johnson. Although Dudley Randall inherited his love of poetry from both parents, he mirrored his mother's calmer demeanor. Randall wrote his first poem when he was four years old, and his first published poem appeared in the Detroit Free Press when he was thirteen He excelled in his studies graduating from high school at sixteen He found work at a Ford Motor Company foundry and he ...


Marian M. Ohman

music educator, conductor, performer, and composer. Accounts of Smith's early life frequently contain unconfirmed or erroneous information. Leavenworth, Kansas, was his probable birthplace, and its 1870 census identified a three-year-old Clark Smith. The “N” does not stand for Nathaniel, as it is frequently cited, but for Noah (1880 census and Leavenworth Herald, 28 Aug. 1897). His parents were Kentucky-born Daniel Smith, and Missouri-born Margaret (Maggie) Davenport Smith. City directories identify Daniel's occupation as blacksmith and laborer. Smith indicated that his father had served in the military, but the National Archives could not verify this assertion. Educated in Leavenworth, Smith initially pursued a career in journalism. The 1880 census identified the fourteen-year-old as a “printer,” and in 1888 he co-founded the Leavenworth Advocate newspaper He also demonstrated his musical talent and capable leadership in community activities and established a connection ...


Benjamin R. Justesen

journalist and educator, was born in Brandenburg, Kentucky, a son of the slaves Henry and Frances Steward, who were freed before the Civil War. In about 1860, the Stewards moved to Louisville, where William attended a private school run by the Reverend Henry Adams, pastor of the First African Church, who became one of the strongest influences in young Steward's life.

As a young man, Steward served as a schoolteacher at Frankfort and Louisville, before working for railroad companies, and in 1876 he became the first African American letter carrier for the Post Office Department in Louisville An active member of the Fifth Street Baptist Church in Louisville he was longtime secretary of the General Association of Colored Baptists of Kentucky He also became active in local Republican politics becoming the first black man to serve as a city precinct judge of registration and elections ...


Stephen Truhon

educator and psychologist, was born in Jackson, Mississippi. Both of his parents (Reverend Patrick Henry Thompson and Mrs. Sara Estelle [Byers] Thompson) taught at Jackson College. After completing his high school education at Wayland Academy in Virginia, he enrolled at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, in 1914 and earned his bachelor's degree in 1917. He received a second bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago in 1918. He was drafted into the army and was stationed at first at Camp Grant in Illinois. He later served in France, rising to the rank of infantry personnel regimental sergeant major.

After his discharge he returned to the University of Chicago, where he earned his master's degree in 1920. From 1920 to 1921 he served as psychology instructor at Virginia Union University. He was director of instruction at the Alabama State Normal School from 1921 ...


Mussie Tesfagiorgis

prominent Eritrean intellectual, teacher, and educator, was born in the village of Shimanegus Tahtay in Hamasen. Yeshaq’s father, Qeshi Tewelde Medhin Gebre Medhin, a priest in the Orthodox Tewahdo Church, was also one of the few popular Eritrean intellectuals of his time. Apart from Tigrinya (his mother tongue), Qeshi Tewelde Medhin Gebre Medhin had mastered many other languages and was fluent in Geez Tigre Amharic Hebrew Italian and Swedish He also possessed a rudimentary knowledge of Latin German Greek and English and was one of the few Eritrean intellectuals who translated the Holy Bible into local languages particularly Tigrinya and Tigre As a young child Yeshaq was among the small minority of advantaged Eritreans who were allowed an elementary education under the Italian colonial administration and went to Swedish missionary schools in Geleb near Keren and Asmara After completing his elementary education Yeshaq was among the extremely few privileged ...


James Jankowski

Egyptian teacher, scholar, and publisher, was born on 2 April 1885 to a peasant family in the village of Kafr Dumayra, Daqahliyya Province. His educational background was unusually diverse. He received his early education at his village kuttab, from which he moved on to study at al-Azhar. While working as a teacher of Arabic at the École des Frères in Khoronfish from 1907 until 1914, he also studied at the new Egyptian University in Cairo and at the Law School in Cairo, from which he received a license in 1912. He later continued his legal studies in Paris, where he received his license en droit in 1925. Fluent in French and Arabic and with experience in both the indigenous and the western educational systems, Zayyat was well situated to serve as a cultural commentator and interpreter.

From 1922 to 1929 Zayyat headed the Arabic Department at ...