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Robert H. Gudmestad

Africanisms refer to African cultural and linguistic practices that survived the passage across the Atlantic Ocean, including language, music, dance, medicine, folk culture, food preparation, and many others. The extent to which enslaved Africans retained their culture was the subject of much debate in the twentieth century.

A sociologist rather than a historian first raised the question: in the early twentieth century E. Franklin Frazier doubted the persistence of African cultural forms in America. The anthropologist Melville Herskovits disagreed, arguing that significant numbers and types of Africanisms survived the Middle Passage. Sidney Mintz and Richard Price who both examined black activity in the Caribbean provided a more nuanced interpretation they believed that no single African American culture was transported intact to the Americas but rather that the Middle Passage was crucial to a reinvention of slave self identity Modern historians commonly believe that once slaves arrived in the Americas ...

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Emad Abdul-Latif

Egyptian poet, critic, broadcaster, painter, and physician, was born in the al-Hanafy district in Cairo. His father, Muhammad Abu Shadi, was the head of the Egyptian Bar Association and his mother, Amina Naguib, was a poetess. He completed his primary and secondary education in Cairo and was involved in antioccupation activities during his adolescence. He joined the faculty of medicine (named Qasr al-Aini) and then traveled to London in 1912 to complete his studies in medicine at the University of London where he obtained a certificate of honor from Saint George Hospital in 1915. He married a British woman and lived with her in Egypt until her death in 1945. Following his return to Egypt in 1922, he served in many governmental posts in such places as the Ministry of Health and the Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University. In 1946 he immigrated to the United States ...

Article

Ralph E. Luker

Barber, Jesse Max (05 July 1878–23 September 1949), African-American journalist, dentist, and civil rights activist, was born in Blackstock, South Carolina, the son of Jesse Max Barber and Susan Crawford, former slaves. Barber studied in public schools for African-American students and at Friendship Institute in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he graduated as valedictorian. In 1901 he completed the normal school course for teachers at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, and afterward entered Virginia Union University in Richmond. There Barber was president of the literary society and edited the University Journal. In 1903 Barber earned an A.B. and spent the summer after graduation as a teacher and traveling agent for an industrial school in Charleston, South Carolina.

By November 1903 however Barber had moved to Atlanta to accept an offer from a white publisher Austin N Jenkins to assist in launching a new literary journal ...

Article

Ralph E. Luker

journalist, dentist, and civil rights activist, was born in Blackstock, South Carolina, the son of Jesse Max Barber and Susan Crawford, former slaves. Barber studied in public schools for African American students and at Friendship Institute in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he graduated as valedictorian. In 1901 he completed the normal school course for teachers at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, and afterward entered Virginia Union University in Richmond. There Barber was president of the literary society and edited the University Journal. In 1903 Barber earned a bachelor's degree and spent the summer after graduation as a teacher and traveling agent for an industrial school in Charleston, South Carolina.

By November 1903, Barber had moved to Atlanta to accept an offer from a white publisher, Austin N. Jenkins, to assist in launching a new literary journal, the Voice of the Negro ...

Article

Marleny Guzman

psychology professor and journalist, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to Frances G. Green Baumgardner and her husband James L. Baumgardner (sometimes spelled Bumgardner). Both his parents were teachers at Allen University in Columbia; James taught math and theology. In one source Frances Baumgardner's maiden name is listed as Ramsay. Little is known about Herbert's childhood, but he was the second child, with an older brother, Luther Ovid, and two younger sisters, Thelma and Victoria. The 1910 census suggests that all four children were living with their parents at 2330 Plain Street (later Hampton Street) in Columbia. The home, which the Baumgardners owned outright without a mortgage appears to have been in a “neighborhood of predominately middle and upper income residences” (Trinkley and Hacker, pp. 45–46). As of 1910 two lodgers were also living in the home which would have provided additional income for the family Luther O ...

Article

Raymond Pierre Hylton

minister, author, physician, dentist, and missionary, was born in Winton, North Carolina. His father, Lemuel Washington Boone (1827–1878), was a prominent minister and politician, and one of the original trustees of Shaw University.

Boone received his early education at Waters Normal and Industrial Institute in Winton. From 1896 to 1899 he attended Richmond Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. In 1899, when the seminary merged with Wayland Seminary College of Meridian Hill in Washington, D.C., to form Virginia Union University and moved to its new Richmond campus at North Lombardy Street, Boone finished his senior year and became part of the university's first graduating class in 1900; he received the bachelor's of divinity degree.

During his final year at Virginia Union, Boone met Eva Roberta Coles from Charlottesville, Virginia, who studied at the neighboring African American women's institution, Hartshorn Memorial College, from which she graduated in 1899 ...

Article

Miriam Sawyer

aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Janet's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Janet's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. The youngest of seven children, Janet had a happy childhood, enjoying sports and games and excelling at school. In an interview conducted at the University of Arizona as part of a project called “African Americans in Aviation in Arizona,” Bragg reminisced: “We were a very happy family. We were not a rich family, only rich in love.”

Independence was encouraged in the Harmon household The children were allowed to attend any church they chose They were ...

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Article

Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, dentist, and politician, was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Gary W. Cable, a teacher and postal worker, and Mary Ellen Montgomery Cable, a public school administrator and civil rights activist. In 1894 the family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Cable attended public school and graduated from integrated Shortridge High School in 1908. He moved on to the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for the next school year and enrolled at Harvard University in 1909.

Cable had not participated in organized athletics in high school, but he tried out for the freshman track team at Harvard and caught the eye of Coach Pat Quinn. With Quinn's guidance, Cable developed rapidly. In the annual Harvard-Yale freshman meet, he won the hammer throw and he also performed well in the 220-yard hurdles and the broad jump (now the long jump) in intramural competitions.

He easily made ...

Article

Rochell Isaac

pastor, educator, and entrepreneur, was born a slave in Christian Country, Kentucky. Clark never knew his biological father. While Clark was still a baby, his father escaped from slavery. His mother, Mary Clark, subsequently married Jerry Clark, who would join the Union army in 1860. Charles Henry Clark remained a slave for a total of nine years, and it was at the age of seven that the overseer's wife took him as her servant. She taught Clark to spell and initiated his path to literacy, but the outbreak of the Civil War would separate Clark from his teacher. During this period, Clark's mother moved from Kentucky to New Providence, Tennessee, to await her husband, Jerry Clark, who was returning from the army. Mary Clark had difficulty financially supporting her family, since her only income at this time came from her eldest son, George W. Clark As ...

Article

Scott Yanow

jazz bassist, was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His parents’ names and occupations are not recorded. An only child, Davis began studying the piano when he was five but soon dropped it because his family did not own a piano. When he was in sixth grade, he wanted to play trumpet or trombone but began on the tuba since it was the only instrument available.

In 1951, when he decided to seriously start his music career, Davis switched to string bass. Very technically skilled from the start, Davis was one of the first musicians who had no difficulty switching between jazz and classical music. He studied with the principal bassist of the Philadelphia Orchestra (Anselme Fortier) and attended Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music from 1953 to 1956. In addition, he led his own quartet and played on radio, on television, at clubs, and at colleges.

After ...

Article

Allan D. Austin

political activist, doctor, newspaper editor, and author, was born in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), son of Samuel Delany, a slave, and Pati Peace, the free daughter of free and African-born Graci Peace. In 1822 Pati fled with her children to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; Samuel joined her in 1823 after purchasing his freedom.

In 1831 in Pittsburgh, Delany studied history, geography, literature, and political economy, informally, with Lewis Woodson and Molliston M. Clark. Here Delany began his restless, wide-ranging advocacy of African American political rights, cultural self-reliance, and independent enterprise. Opposed to physical and “servile” work, Delany apprenticed himself to a white doctor in 1833. During his time in Pittsburgh he joined or helped found several African American antislavery, temperance, historical, literary, and moral reform societies. When Pennsylvania rescinded black suffrage in 1839 Delany explored Mexican Texas where slavery was illegal and ...

Article

Timothy Konhaus

However, because of his vehement political and social critiques of the United States, Delany is often relegated to the shadows of his contemporary, Frederick Douglass. Like Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois in the early twentieth century, Delany and Douglass represent a point-counterpoint in American history. Unlike Washington and Du Bois, however, Delany and Douglass were at times business partners and friends despite their conflicting social views.

Delany was born in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1812, the son of Pati Peace, a free black woman, and Samuel Delany, a slave father. In 1822 his family moved north to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. In 1831 Delany went to Pittsburgh to study under the Reverend Lewis Woodson, an ardent black separatist. Delany also began studying medicine under the direction of several Pittsburgh doctors while serving as a cupper and bleeder.

In 1843 Delany began ...

Article

Spanning more than a century, the lives of the Delany sisters are a testament to their indomitable spirits and enduring faith. Sarah Louise (“Sadie”) Delany was the first African American woman to teach home economics in a New York City high school, and younger sister Annie Elizabeth (“Bessie”) Delany was the second African American female dentist in New York State. However, it was a book they collaborated on when they were both over one hundred years old, the best seller Having Our Say (1993), that brought them to the attention of the world.

Sadie Delany was born in 1889 in Lynch’s Station, Virginia, and Bessie Delany was born in 1891 in Raleigh, North Carolina. They were the second and third of ten children born to Henry Beard Delany Sr. and Nanny James Logan Delany. Their father was born a slave in 1858 on a plantation in ...

Article

Eric Gardner

writer, activist, minister, doctor, and businessman, was born in Washington, D.C., or nearby Maryland, probably to Thomas Detro (or Detrow), a stonemason, and his wife, Eleanor. Detter was educated in Washington, D.C., and was apprenticed to a shoemaker. Little is known of his early years. In 1852 he traveled aboard the steamer John L. Stephens to San Francisco, where he worked as a barber before moving to Sacramento. He quickly became active in northern California's black community and was Sacramento's delegate to the state Colored Conventions of 1855, 1856, and 1857; the 1855 Convention named him to the Executive Board.

Apparently frustrated by the lack of civil rights progress in California, he left the state in late 1857 Over the next decade he traveled throughout Idaho Washington and Oregon spending extended periods in areas around Boise Walla Walla Idaho City ...

Article

Donna A. Patterson

Senegalese politician, pharmacist, and author, was born in Saint-Louis, Senegal, on 30 September 1922. His father worked as a colonial official, and his mother was a homemaker. In 1935, Diop’s father died; his mother followed two years later, leaving Diop, aged fifteen, and his four siblings orphaned. The death of his parents kindled a desire to excel in his studies, and after completing his secondary education in Saint-Louis and Dakar, Diop was admitted to French West Africa’s School of Medicine and Pharmacy.

The curriculum at the School of Medicine and Pharmacy was abbreviated during the early years, with initial terms of three and fours years of study. Despite the initial brevity, graduates from these programs were extensively trained in local hospitals and clinics. Likewise, in his memoirs (Mémoires de luttes: Textes pour servir à l’histoire du Parti Africain de l’Indépendance, 2007 Diop describes his training ...

Article

Kwasi Konadu

Ghanaian indigenous healer and blacksmith, was born in 1913, three years after an outbreak of yellow fever in the Gold Coast colony (present-day Ghana), to Yaw Badu of Nkoranza and Akosua Toa, into a Bono (Akan) family in Takyiman. Nana Donkor’s early years and socialization in a family of well-respected healers and blacksmiths were significant to his eventual vocation, for he engaged matters of spirituality and healing from a very early age, and his family nurtured and supported those interests.

Kofi Donkor’s path as a prominent healer was suggested by the very circumstances of his birth. After Kofi Donkor’s two elder sisters were born, the next five children died shortly after birth. This troubled Yaw Badu and Akosua Toa greatly, and so they consulted an obosom (pl. abosom a spiritual agent often viewed as a child of the Akan Creator Both parents made several ritual sacrifices and as ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

medical doctor and playwright in Sierra Leone, was born on 15 January 1913 in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. The Easmon family was prominent among the Freetown elite and was descended from the black American and Canadian settlers who moved from Nova Scotia to Freetown in 1792, only five years after the foundation of this small British colony. His father, H. C. F. Easmon, was one of the most highly regarded African doctors in Sierra Leone, and his paternal grandfather, James Farrell Easmon, was one of the first Africans to work as a Western-trained doctor in Sierra Leone and Ghana. Easmon recalled how hard his father struggled to battle the influenza epidemic that ravaged Freetown in 1918 and 1919 He recalled in the 1980s Father had literally to doctor the whole city Easmon was educated at the Prince of Wales secondary school in Freetown before he moved ...

Article

Françoise Vergès

writer, psychiatrist, and activist, was born on 20 July 1925 at Fort de France Martinique at the time a French colony The descendant of a slave of African origins Fanon was the fifth of eight children His parents who were of mixed heritage belonged to the urban middle class His father Félix Casimir Fanon worked in the French customs Eléanore Médélice his mother was a shopkeeper She was very proud of her Alsatian roots on an island where the hierarchy of color was very strong Both parents discouraged their children from speaking Creole and encouraged them to integrate into French culture Fanon studied at the elitist Lycée Schoelcher where he had Aimé Césaire as one of his teachers At eighteen Fanon joined the Free French army and was sent for army training to Algeria Fanon became disillusioned with the cause of freeing Europe from Nazism and wrote to his ...

Article

Werner Graebner

taarab singer, drummer, and healer, was born in urban Zanzibar. Her parents had migrated to the islands from the Kilwa area of Tanzania on the East African mainland. She is better known as Bi Kidude. Some controversy surrounds Kidude’s birthdate; considering all evidence, the latest she could have been born is around 1920. Growing up in suburban Zanzibar’s Ng’ambo area, she showed interest from a young age in taarab song, a genre of poetry sung to musical accompaniment developed in nineteeth- century Zanzibar. One of her uncles, Buda Suwedi, was a member of Siti Bint Saadi’s group, then the most popular singer in Zanzibar. Kidude attended night rehearsals at Saadi’s place, pretending to sleep in a corner or on the outside baraza bench, soaking up the songs, which still form her main repertoire today.

When Kidude was in her teens, dhows traditional Arab sailboats from all over the ...