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Charles E. Wynes

Alexander, Archie Alphonso (14 May 1888–04 January 1958), engineer was born in Ottumwa Iowa the son of Price Alexander a janitor and coachman and Mary Hamilton The Alexanders were members of a tiny African American minority both in the town of Archie s birth and in Des Moines Iowa where they moved when he was eleven years old In Ottumwa the Alexanders lived in the section of town inhabited by the poor both black and white in Des Moines they lived on a small farm on the outskirts of town Since Iowa s public schools were not segregated young Alexander attended school with whites graduating from Des Moines s Oak Park High School in 1905 Then uncommon for the son of a janitor whether black or white he went on to further study By working hard at part time jobs and with some help from his parents ...

Article

Thomas O. Fox and Jocelyn Spragg

scientist and educator, was born in Pennsauken, New Jersey, the second of nine children, to Howard R. Amos Sr., a Philadelphia postman, and Iola Johnson, who had been adopted by and worked for a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family who schooled her with their own children at home. This family remained lifelong friends of Iola and kept the young Amos family well supplied with books, including a biography of Louis Pasteur, which piqued Harold's interest in science in the fourth grade. Both Howard and Iola expected their children to be serious about their education and to excel academically. Harold, along with his siblings, took piano lessons and remained a competent amateur pianist. He also gained a reputation as an excellent tennis player.

Harold received his early education in a segregated school in Pennsauken then graduated first in his class from Camden High School in New Jersey He ...

Article

Courtney L. Young

African Americans have always played an important part in the U.S. space program. Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. was the first African American astronaut, although he never went on a space mission. Lawrence was an air force test pilot and among the first people named to the U.S. Air Force manned orbiting laboratory program, a precursor to the space shuttle program developed in the 1960s by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Lawrence died in an airplane accident in 1967, and NASA did not recruit another African American astronaut for more than ten years.

In 1978 three African American men were selected by NASA for the astronaut training program: Guion S. Bluford Jr., Frederick Gregory, and Ronald E. McNair. Bluford became the first African American to fly in space in 1983 and he took part in four missions totaling more than 688 hours in space ...

Article

Robert Fay

Located near the city of Aswan, the Aswan High Dam provoked controversy even before it was constructed. The United States had promised funds to Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser to underwrite the construction of the dam. Egypt claimed nonalignment during the Cold War—that is, it allied with neither the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) nor the United States. However, while seeking funding for the dam, Egypt completed an arms deal with the USSR In retaliation, the United States withdrew the funding offer, whereupon Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal claiming that revenue from the canal would offset the dam s construction costs This provoked an international conflict over control of the canal Nasser meanwhile secured funds from the USSR for one third of the dam s construction costs the total of which exceeded $1 billion The dam was an important part of Nasser s vision for Egypt He sought ...

Article

Caroline M. Fannin

Despite gender and race discrimination, and despite the small numbers of black women active in aviation, black women have contributed notably to the encouragement of black Americans’ participation in aviation and to the furtherance of aerospace research.

Article

Betty Kaplan Gubert

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the dream of flying became a reality and the nation's expectations of the new technology were enormous—some thought it would even eliminate warfare. African Americans hoped to enter this new arena, in part to put to rest society's deeply held belief that blacks were an inferior race. In 1992, however, the Organization of Black Airline Pilots stated that only 600 of the nation's 70,000 commercial airline pilots were African American. The number rises when private and military pilots are considered, but numbers remain small.

The earliest African American pilot is thought to have been Charles Wesley Peters in 1911. Eugene J. Bullard (1894–1961) was the only black fighter pilot in World War I, having flown for the French. The first black woman to obtain a license (in 1921) was Bessie Coleman (1892–1926 she too had ...

Article

Crystal L. Keels

missile engineer, trailblazer, and advocate for social reform, was born in 1924 in Detroit, Michigan to parents Carrie and Chester Banfield. His grandfather Moses was born into slavery and managed to move his family up North. The family moved to Detroit from Dublin, Georgia during the Great Migration and settled in Black Bottom, near the Detroit River. Moses brought his wife, Odessa, who was half Blackfoot Indian, and their five sons and four daughters to live a better life outside of the South.

One of six siblings William Banfield s early interests included a love of learning As a child he was particularly inspired by the story of the black revolutionary Toussaint Louverture in Haiti that he read about in an adventure book Reading was an important part of his life and in grammar school he was chosen to represent his school for his work on ...

Article

South African surgeon who carried out the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant, was born into an impoverished Afrikaner family at Beaufort West, South Africa, on 8 November 1922. His father, the Reverend Adam Hendrik Barnard, was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church for Coloured, or mixed-race, people, and his mother was Maria Elisabeth de Swart. He was educated at Beaufort West High School before training as a doctor at the University of Cape Town’s medical school, where he graduated MB, ChB, in 1945. Having done his internship at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, he worked for a short time as a rural general practitioner in Ceres, in the western Cape, before returning to Cape Town to become senior medical officer at City Hospital and then registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1953 he gained his MD for his dissertation The Treatment of Tuberculosis Meningitis Later ...

Article

Benjamin Hebblethwaite

was born on 25 August 1939 in Haiti. Over the course of his career, Beauvoir contributed to the sciences, established a prominent Vodou temple and cultural organization, and published cornerstone volumes of Vodou sacred literature. His publishing solidified his status as the most influential Vodou priest of his generation. Son of one of the first black graduates from Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia, Beauvoir graduated from City University of New York with a degree in chemistry in 1958 and earned a degree in biochemistry in 1962 from the Sorbonne in Paris. As a chemist he worked at Cornell Medical Center in New York City on the synthesis of metabolic steroids; later he worked on the synthesis of hydrocortisone from plants.

In 1973, Beauvoir’s nonagenarian grandfather, an oungan (Vodou priest), designated him as the head of the family religion prior to his death. In 1974 Beauvoir and his ...

Article

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Guion Stewart (Guy) Bluford, Jr. grew up in an educated, middle-class household. His mother was a teacher and his father an inventor and mechanical engineer. The Blufords provided their three sons with an example of personal drive, goal fulfillment, and a strong work ethic. Bluford's interest in space and aviation began in his early childhood, when he constructed model airplanes. He studied math and science in junior high and set his career sights on aerospace engineering.

Bluford assembled an impressive résumé before entering NASA's astronaut program in 1978. He enrolled in the United States Air Force's Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) during college, and he graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1964 with a degree in aerospace engineering. He trained to be a pilot at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona. After receiving his pilot wings in 1965 Bluford served in ...

Article

Miriam Sawyer

Bragg, Janet (24 March 1907–11 April 1993), aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts Harmon and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Bragg's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Bragg's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. Bragg, the youngest of seven children, 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 ...

Article

Philip Alexander

physicist, educator, and academic administrator, was born in Pocahontas, Virginia, the son of Harry P. Branson, a coal miner, and Gertrude Brown. In 1928, after several years at his local elementary school, Herman enrolled at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., one of the nation's preeminent black secondary schools. He was encouraged in this move by a young black physician, William Henry Welch, who practiced in Pocahontas and who rented lodgings from young Branson's grandmother.

At Dunbar, Branson was introduced to studies in Latin, advanced mathematics, and other disciplines to which he would not have been exposed in his local high school. After graduating as valedictorian in 1932 he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh with a view to studying medicine partly because his great uncle had been trained as a physician there Branson completed the premedical program in two years and still found time ...

Article

Betty Kaplan Gubert

Brown, Willa (22 January 1906–18 July 1992), pilot and aviation educator, was born Willa Beatrice Brown in Glasgow, Kentucky, the only daughter of Hallie Mae Carpenter Brown and Eric B. Brown, a farm owner. After 1910 the family, as part of the internal migration of African Americans from the rural South to northern cities, moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, hoping for greater opportunities in employment and education. There her father worked in a creosote factory; he was also pastor of the Holy Triumphant Church in 1920 and the Free Church of God in 1929.

At Wiley High School Brown was one of only seven black students in the 100 member chorus During her high school years she also did part time domestic work Brown graduated in 1923 and entered Indiana State Normal School a teacher training school that is now part of Indiana University She majored in ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Willa Brown was born in Glasgow, Kentucky, to Reverend Eric and Hallie Mae Carpenter Brown. Willa lived briefly in Indianapolis, Indiana, but she spent most of her childhood in Terre Haute, where she graduated from Sarah Scott Junior High School in 1920 and from Wiley High School in 1923.

Brown received her B.S. degree in business from Indiana State Teachers College in 1927. After graduating, she taught public school in Gary, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois, where she developed an interest in aviation.

In 1935 Brown received a master mechanics certificate from the Aeronautical University in Chicago, and three years later received a private pilot's license by passing her exam with a nearly flawless score of 96 percent. In 1937 she earned an M.B.A. degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and in 1940 she earned a Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) ground school instructor's rating.

After ...

Article

Robert Fay

The Cabora Bassa (or Cahora Bassa) Dam is a 2,075-megawatt arch dam on Lake Cabora Bassa, located on the Zambezi River northwest of Tete in Mozambique. It stands 171 meters (561 feet) high and is 303 meters (994 feet) wide. The Portuguese colonial government built the dam between 1969 and 1974, partly as an attempt to maintain its rule in Mozambique. The colony’s economy needed both irrigation and hydroelectricity, but Portugal also reasoned that supplying South Africa with inexpensive power would encourage that nation to help fight the independence group Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), which opposed the dam’s construction. After Mozambique achieved independence in 1975, the FRELIMO-led government refused to maintain the unprofitable dam, and blamed the dam’s fiscal woes on the low electricity prices Portugal had set for South Africa.

During Mozambique s seventeen year long civil war Cabora Bassa and associated projects ...

Article

Araceli Reynoso

was born on 2 December 1919 in Cacahuatepec, Oaxaca. His parents were Francisco José María Carrillo and Candelaria Morales, a mulata originally from Juchitán, a small town located within what is today the municipality of Azoyú in the state of Guerrero. He had three more siblings. His mother died when he was still a child, after which his father married Teodora Alarcón. Álvaro took his stepmother’s last name in recognition of the fact that she had raised him and his siblings.

Álvaro liked to say that he was oaxaqueño by birth and raised by the Costa Chica of Guerrero a region that has historically identified itself as the major African presence in Mexico Costa Chica or Small Coast covers the southern Pacific coast of Mexico beginning in Acapulco Guerrero and ending in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca Africans arrived in this area of Mexico in the middle of the sixteenth century ...

Article

Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston

Albert Cassell was born in Towson, near Baltimore, Maryland, the third child of Albert Truman and Charlotte Cassell. He finished his elementary and high school education in Baltimore and in 1919 received a B.A. degree in architecture from Cornell University, where he sang in churches to help pay his expenses. His studies were interrupted by service as a second lieutenant, training officers in heavy field artillery in the United States and France during World War I (1914–1918).

Article

Osire Glacier

the first female pilot in Morocco and the Maghreb, was born into a bourgeois family in Fez on 14 December 1936. Her father, Abdelwahed Chaoui, was an avant-garde journalist and an actor who wanted his daughter to have an exemplary education, including training in Arabic and French and in Moroccan and Western cultures (Morocco was at the time a French protectorate). From her childhood, she distinguished herself by her exceptional intelligence, impressing her teachers as well as the director of her school.

In addition to her success in school Chaoui demonstrated strong leadership skills When she was seven years old she organized a strike in her school to protest against the violence of the colonial authorities She made her young peers promise that they would not return to their classrooms until the French authorities liberated the students who had been arrested in a public demonstration in favor of Morocco ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Jewel Plummer Cobb was born in Chicago, Illinois. By her sophomore year in high school, she had begun to work toward her goal of becoming a biologist. She received a bachelor's degree in biology from Talladega College in Alabama in 1944. She then studied cell physiology at New York University, earning a master's degree in 1947 and a Ph.D. in 1950.

Cobb continued her research at several different universities and eventually became involved in university administration. She was president of California State University at Fullerton and dean at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, Connecticut College, and Douglass College in New Jersey. Cobb became trustee professor of the California State University System in 1990. In 2001 she received the Reginald Wilson Award from the American Council on Education Office of Minorities in Higher Education for her career achievements in promoting diversity in higher education Cobb ...

Article

Sara L. Thompson

As the longtime director of psychophysiological research at NASA, Ames Research Center (ARC), in Mountain View, California, Patricia Cowings’s career as a research psychologist at NASA has spanned well over three decades. Beginning with a focus on training astronauts to use biofeedback to overcome the motion sickness that plagues them during their flights, she developed the Autogenic Feedback Training Exercise (AFTE). Using this system, an astronaut learns to control functions previously considered to be involuntary, such as heart rate, the temperature of the extremities, and the muscles of the digestive system. Such a technique is invaluable to astronauts and pilots who are placed in extreme conditions and emergency flight situations and need to control their own “fight or flight” responses to think clearly and act effectively.

Cowings was born in New York City and spent her childhood in the Fort Apache area of the Bronx where her parents Albert ...