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Article

Jeremy Rich

was born on 5 March 1920 in Algeria. Both his parents were Jewish and were notable figures in their own right. Aboulker’s father, Félix, was a surgeon and the leader of the centrist Radical Party in Algiers. Berthe Bénichou-Aboulker was one of the first Algerian women to publish a novel and the author of numerous poems. Because after 1879 Algerian Jews became French citizens by an act of the French parliament, Aboulker had the opportunity to receive an advanced education, unlike other Algerians. After completing his primary and secondary education, Aboulker planned to continue in the family profession of medicine, but the outbreak of World War II in Europe in 1939 forced him to postpone his education. He enlisted in a French regiment of spahis at Miliana in Ain Delfa province in northwest Algeria. However, the French government surrendered to the Germans in 1940.

The establishment of a pro ...

Primary Source

This biography appears in African American Women Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2011), by Dr. Jeannette Brown.

Article

Mandisa Mbali

antiapartheid, gay rights, AIDS, and human rights activist, was born in Johannesburg in South Africa. Adurrazack (“Zackie”) Achmat was of Cape Malay heritage. His father, Suleiman Achmat, was a member of the South African Communist Party and his mother, Mymoena, was a trade union shop steward. Achmat’s entry into politics began at the age of 14 with his participation in the 1976 student uprising. He was detained in 1977 for burning down his high school in Salt River to demonstrate his support for the uprising. Achmat obtained a bachelor of arts honors degree in English literature from the University of the Western Cape in 1992.

He spent much of the period between 1976 and 1980 in detention for his opposition to the apartheid system. It was also in this period that Achmat read the then-banned works of Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky and the progressive academic journal Work in ...

Article

Theodore Cohen

was born on 20 January 1908 in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, to Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, a medical doctor, and Pilar Beltrán Luchirí, the descendant of Ignacio María Luchichí, a well-known writer in the surrounding Papaloapan basin of southern Mexico. Though born into an elite family with no African ancestry, Aguirre Beltrán had a major impact on how we understand the African heritage of Mexico. In addition, he was interested in social issues, had an affinity for anarchism, and read scholars such as Georg Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx. In 1921 he moved to Mexico City to continue his preparatory studies, and in 1927 he enrolled in medical school at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico). Having finished his thesis, “El metabolism basal en lasnefrosis” (Elemental Metabolism in Nephrosis), he graduated in 1931. He married Judith Avendaño, and they had five children.

After finishing medical school Aguirre ...

Article

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

AIDS  

Courtney Q. Shah

Scientists have debated the origins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) since they first recognized them in 1981 when clusters of homosexual men in California and New York were found to have suppressed immune systems. Since then HIV has become pandemic, affecting all segments of the population in every corner of the globe. Scientists believe that the disease originated in Cameroon, where a related virus called simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) has been found in chimpanzees. The theory is that SIV jumped from chimpanzees to humans sometime in the twentieth century. A retrospective study of preserved blood samples done in 1998 confirmed that the earliest known case of HIV was in a Congolese man who died in 1959.

AIDS was first labeled gay related immune deficiency GRID by the U S government s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC The earliest studies in ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Togolese medical doctor and politician, was born on 2 September 1913 in Lomé, the capital of the West African German colony of Togo. His parents belonged to a Ewe-speaking community. His father, Andréas Aku, was the first Togolese head of the Protestant Church of Togo and had been ordained by German missionaries. His mother was Caroline Aku.

Naturally, Aku attended Protestant missionary schools in Lomé from 1920 to 1928 The German Protestant pastor Gottfried Stoevesandt was so impressed with Aku s intellectual ability that he invited him to attend secondary school in Germany His relatively poor but influential parents agreed For the handful of Togolese students able to continue their education in Europe between World War I and World War II the medical field was the most attractive subject of their studies Aku passed the German baccalaureate examinations and then with the support of the Bremen Protestant mission entered ...

Article

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

Peter A. Kuryla

An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, the Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal's study of race relations in the United States, had remarkable influence after it appeared in 1944. The Supreme Court, for example, cited Myrdal's work with approval in the 1954Brown v. Board of Education decision. Within the national government, social engineers crafted ameliorative, race-based policy from Dilemma's prescriptions. For decades American liberals found its optimism congenial to much of their thinking. The word “dilemma” became linguistic coin of the realm, a liberal shorthand for America whenever cast in racial relief. The study helped create what many scholars came to call a “liberal orthodoxy” on race among social scientists, a perspective that dominated American social thought from the end of World War II until the mid-1960s.

The Carnegie Foundation sponsored and funded the study The original proposal for a comprehensive study of the ...

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 ...

Primary Source

This biography appears in African American Women Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2011), by Dr. Jeannette Brown.

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 ...

Primary Source

This biography appears in African American Women Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2011), by Dr. Jeannette Brown.

Article

Owen J. M. Kalinga

physician and president of Malawi from 1964 to 1994, was born in about 1896 at Mphonongo, approximately 18 miles (29 kilometers) east of the headquarters of the present-day Kasungu district. Given the name, Kamunkhwala, denoting the medicine that his mother took to enable conception, Banda attended two local junior elementary schools of the Livingstonia Mission of the Church of Scotland. In 1908, he went to the more established school at Chilanga Mission where, in that year, Dr. George Prentice baptized him as Akim Kamunkhwala Mtunthama Banda. He was to drop all three names and replace them with Hastings Walter (after a Scottish missionary, John Hastings), before finally settling on Hastings Kamuzu Banda, substituting kamuzu (root) for Kamunkhwala.

In 1914 Banda passed three standard exams a mandatory step to continue to the full primary school level the satisfactory completion of which was the highest qualification one could attain ...

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

Mohammed Hassen Ali

pharmacist, lawyer, and Oromo nationalist and political activist in Ethiopia, was mainly responsible for the formation of the Oromo Liberation Front, which in turn transformed Oromo cultural nationalism to political nationalism. He was born in the region of Wallaga. He lost both his parents while very young, and it was his elder brother, the Reverend Gudina Tumsa, who brought him up and provided him with the best education.

While at Haile Selassie I University, Baro Tumsa immersed himself in student politics as well as risky underground Oromo political activities. From 1964 to 1966 he served as secretary and president of the union of the university students in Addis Ababa It was under his leadership that university students were radicalized and energized More than many of his contemporaries Baro Tumsa realized that the Oromo and other conquered people of southern Ethiopia were landless subjects without rights who were exploited economically ...