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Gayden, Fern  

Ian Rocksborough-Smith

was born in Dunlop, Kansas, the daughter of Andrew Gayden of Mississippi and Frances J. Johnson of Tennessee. Gayden had two brothers and two sisters and many relatives living throughout Morris County where Dunlop is situated. She had grandparents on either side who were compelled to move to Kansas in the exodus from the South by many African Americans after the Civil War during the period of Reconstruction.

Gayden attended Dunlop s only Black elementary school and enrolled in an integrated high school She later entered the teacher s college in Emporia Kansas After teaching for one year Gayden became unsatisfied with this career and the general limits placed on Black women with professional aspirations Inspired by her father s intellectual curiosity and visits by family friends who discussed politics religion and culture she imagined herself pursuing an exciting law career in Chicago after hearing from a cousin who lived ...


Gbowee, Leymah Roberta  

Susan Shepler

peace activist, social worker, women's rights advocate, and 2011Nobel Laureate, was born on 1 February 1972 in central Liberia and raised in the country's capital, Monrovia. Her father worked as the head radio technician and liaison to the United States for the government of Liberia's National Security Agency. Her father was hired under President William Tolbert, was arrested and jailed for nine months when Samuel Doe seized power in 1980, and was reinstated upon his release. He resigned with the election of Charles Taylor in 1997 and became head of security at St. Peters Catholic Church. Her mother was a dispensing pharmacist at several hospitals in Monrovia before the outbreak of war.

Gbowee graduated from B.W. Harris Episcopal High, one of Monrovia's best high schools. In March 1990 she began classes at the University of Liberia with the dream of becoming a doctor ...


Goodman, George Wendell  

Elizabeth Doerfler

journalist, educator, social worker, activist, and community leader was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in or around 1901 to John T. Goodman, a laborer, and Harriet Goodman. Both of his parents were born in Virginia as were his siblings, David and Esther. This indicates that the Goodmans were part of the early African American migration from the South to the urban North, a process that increased greatly during the Great Migration that began in World War I. By 1920, when Goodman was nineteen, the family—which included his parents, his sister, Margaret, her husband, Floyd Davis, and their daughter, Marjorie—lived at 290 Garden Street, part of an African‐American neighborhood in Hartford.

Goodman graduated from Hartford Public High School in 1922 He was one of the very few African Americans to graduate in his class During high school Goodman was on the debate team the football team and ...


Joseph, Helen  

Susanne M. Klausen

teacher, social worker, and antiapartheid activist in South Africa, was born Helen Beatrice May Fennell in Sussex, England, on 8 April 1905. She grew up in London and graduated with a degree in English from King’s College, the University of London, in 1927. She taught at the Mahbubia School for girls in Hyderabad, India, from 1927 to 1930. After a serious horse-riding accident, she resigned and moved to South Africa in 1931 to take up a less demanding post at a school in Durban. Between 1942 and 1946 she worked full time as a Welfare and Information Officer in the South African Air Force, and during this period she learned a great deal about black South Africans’ extensive poverty. Consequently, after World War II, she trained as a social worker.

In 1951 Joseph became secretary of the Medical Aid Society of the Transvaal Clothing Industry In ...


Marson, Una M.  

Lisa Clayton Robinson

In England, her adopted home for almost twenty years, Una M. Marson is remembered as “Britain's first black feminist.” Marson was born in a rural village in Jamaica in 1905, the daughter of a pastor. She received a scholarship to the prestigious Hampton School, a girls' boarding school, and after graduation moved to Kingston, where she supported herself as a social worker and began publishing poetry and plays.

In 1928 Marson founded and edited the magazine The Cosmopolitan, an early feminist publication that championed Jamaican women. It soon folded, but her writings continued to receive notice; in 1930 she received the Institute of Jamaica's Musgrave Medal for Tropic Reveries, her first collection of poetry. In 1932 Marson became one of the first of many twentieth-century Caribbean writers who emigrated to London, seeking wider horizons.

Marson continued publishing her plays and poetry in England and she also ...


Washington, Forrester  

Laura Crkovski

educator and activist. Forrester B. Washington was born in about 1888 in Salem, Massachusetts. He attended many universities, including Columbia University, the University of Michigan, Tufts University—where he was the first African American to graduate, in 1909—and Harvard University, where he undertook graduate studies. He held a number of leadership positions in which he advocated for the rights of African American citizens and the responsibilities of the government.

In 1916 Washington was sent to Detroit Michigan to establish the city s chapter of the Urban League for which his background in social work was indispensable The Urban League s mission was to help people of color reach their full potentials and to help those migrating from rural areas acclimate to life in the city Washington helped the league organize in the areas of recreation education health services and welfare He even brought in housekeeping training programs to teach ...


Washington, Forrester Blanchard  

Frederica Harrison Barrow

social work educator, researcher, and social activist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the first of four children of Lucy August Wylly, originally from Darien, Georgia, and John William Washington, an artist and professional penman who also became a postal clerk in Boston after he moved his family there. Lucy was the daughter of a slave and her white owner, who sent her to Boston for her education. Washington graduated from South Boston High School in 1905 and from Tufts College in 1909. He is believed to have been Tufts' first African American graduate. Briefly he taught French at Howard University before resuming his studies. From 1912 to 1914 he pursued an economics degree at Harvard University and then attended Columbia University, where he graduated in 1917 with a master s degree in Social Economy While at Columbia he also completed training supported by ...


Whipper, Ionia R(ollin)  

Rosalyn Terborg-Penn

Ionia Whipper was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, the daughter of William J. and Frances A. Rollin Whipper. Her paternal grandfather, William Whipper, was a prominent moral reformer and conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping fugitive slaves escape to safety in the North. Her father was a delegate to the 1868 South Carolina Constitutional Convention, a municipal judge, and a member of the 1895 state constitutional convention. In 1889 he had published a pamphlet portraying the attempt of Democrats to win by fraud in the 1888 election in Beaufort County. Her mother and aunts were noted activists in Charleston, South Carolina.

After coming to Washington, D.C., at an early age, Whipper graduated from the Howard University College of Medicine in 1903 where she specialized in obstetrics With a heritage steeped in social reform she would later dedicate her life to helping others Frances Whipper ...


Wilson, Alyce McCarroll  

Tekla Ali Johnson

social worker and settlement house director, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, to parents whose names and occupations are now unknown. Wilson graduated from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, in the late 1920s, earning a certificate of music. Shortly after graduation she arrived in Omaha, Nebraska, where she worked as a social worker. Wilson was a diligent member of the Alpha Beta Chapter of the Delta sorority and served as a founding member of Delta sorority chapters in her hometown, as well as a chapter at Fisk University and the Gamma Xi Alumnae Chapter of Omaha. While still in her thirties, Wilson was appointed director of Woodson Center, an African American settlement house in South Omaha.

The idea of settlement houses originated in London in the nineteenth century to help immigrants adjust to their new surroundings and to help eradicate social inequalities by providing educational opportunities for the working class ...


Young, Whitney Moore, Jr  

Ralph E. Luker

social worker and civil rights activist, was born in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky, the son of Whitney Moore Young Sr., president of Lincoln Institute, a private African American college, and Laura Ray, a schoolteacher. Raised within the community of the private academy and its biracial faculty, Whitney Young Jr. and his two sisters were sheltered from harsh confrontations with racial discrimination in their early lives, but they attended segregated public elementary schools for African American children and completed high school at Lincoln Institute. In 1937 Young, planning to become a doctor, entered Kentucky State Industrial College at Frankfort, where he received a BS in 1941. After graduation he became an assistant principal and athletic coach at Julius Rosenwald High School in Madison, Kentucky.

After joining the U.S. Army in 1942, Young studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1944 he married Margaret Buckner ...