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Bustamante, Gladys Maud  

Sandria Green-Stewart

and the first “First Lady” of independent Jamaica, was born Gladys Maud Longbridge on 8 March 1912 in Parson Reid, Westmoreland, Jamaica, to working-class parents, Rebecca Blackwood and Frank Longbridge. Lady Bustamante, in her Memoirs, identified the role of her family (including her extended family), the church, school, and the local community in molding her early years and inculcating the values of responsibility and giving back to others. She attended the Ashton Primary School, which was run by the Moravian Church. As an ambitious 18-year-old, she moved to Kingston, the island’s capital, to pursue further education at Tutorial Commercial College, where she studied to be a secretary. It was in Kingston that she began her journey to become associated with Jamaica’s early trade union movement and a contributor to the project of nation-building.

Bustamante described her early life in rural western Jamaica as happy and carefree She was involved ...


Diaz, Manuel, Jr.  

Sonia Lee

was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on 19 September 1922 to Manuel Diaz Gomez, a printmaker, musician, and bodega owner, and Filomena Zoe Velazquez, a seamstress. With his family, Diaz migrated to New York City at the age of 5 in 1927. While training for the military during World War II in Biloxi, Mississippi, Diaz experienced Jim Crow racism for the first time in his life. After being denied service at a bar and a promotion in the military because of the color of his skin, Diaz came to develop a “kinship toward black people.” Upon returning home, Diaz earned a B.A. at the City College of New York (CCNY) in 1951 and an M.S. at Columbia University’s School of Social Work in 1953 Black activists whom Diaz met as a student heavily influenced his intellectual and political trajectory At CCNY he joined the campus chapter of the ...


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 ...


Herman, Alexis  

Mohammed Badrul Alam

public servant and the first African American secretary of labor. Alexis Herman is among the few African American women who as a public servant rose to great heights through innovative and entrepreneurial skills. She was born in Mobile, Alabama, on 16 July 1947 and was educated at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin (1965–1967), Spring Hill College in Mobile (1967), Xavier University in New Orleans (1969), and the University of South Alabama (1970–1972 Inspired by the civil rights movements of the 1960s as well as by the women s and labor movements of the 1970s Herman worked strenuously to desegregate her old high school in Mobile During her childhood she looked on in awe when her father sued the Democratic Party to let African Americans vote he later became the first African American wardsman in Alabama As a proactive outreach worker in Pascagoula ...


Herman, Alexis M.  

Jaime McLean

As a community activist, businesswoman, and political manager, Alexis Herman has devoted her life to resolving labor issues and advocating for American workers. Throughout her thirty-five-year career, Herman has been successful in translating her experiences with workers into effective labor policy. Having dealt with both gender and racial discrimination herself, Herman has dedicated her life to exposing institutional barriers and developing policies based on “common sense ideas that improve the bottom line.”

Alexis Margaret Herman was born in Mobile, Alabama. After graduating from Heart of Mary High School in 1965, Herman moved to Wisconsin, where she attended Edgewood College. In 1967 she transferred to Spring Hill College in Mobile before going on to Xavier University in New Orleans, where in 1969 she received her BS. Herman later did graduate work at the University of South Alabama while pursuing a career in community activism.

Herman s early career provided ...


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 ...