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Alves, Sebastião Rodrigues  

Elisa Larkin Nascimento

born in Guaraçu, state of Espirito Santo, Brazil, on 28 July 1913 and known to family, friends, and acquaintances as “Rodrigues” or “Rodrigues Alves.” He lost his mother, Maria da Conceição Fernando Alves, at the age of 7 and went to work with his father, Hipólito Rodrigues Alves, farming one of his small plots of land. As a boy and youth, Rodrigues Alves worked rural jobs, driving cattle and running donkeys and burros. He worked for the state fire department and then enlisted in the army, where he rose to the rank of corporal.

In 1932 the neighboring state of São Paulo declared its Constitutionalist Revolution Rodrigues Alves was among the troops sent to quash the rebellion When federal forces prevailed Rodrigues Alves s unit moved to São Paulo He went to live at a Mrs Fortunata s boarding house where black activist Abdias Nascimento then also a young ...


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 ...


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 ...


Grillo, Evelio  

Tace Hedrick

for African Americans and Mexican Americans in the Bay Area of California, was born to two Afro-Cuban cigar workers (Ámparo and Antonio Grillo) in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, Florida, on 14 June 1919. His memoir Black Cuban, Black American describes his evolving racial consciousness, from a young Afro-Cuban in Jim Crow Tampa to a fully realized identification as a “black American” by the time he was discharged from the army in 1945 The policy of racial uplift on the part of African American elites began Grillo s transformation mentored by Tampa s African American community Grillo graduated from the prestigious Dunbar High School in Washington D C Here Grillo was exposed to D C s intellectual elite who in turn facilitated his graduation from the historically black Xavier University in New Orleans His early life experiences provide us with a regional view of a complex set ...


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 ...


Lewis, Christina Felicia  

Gelien Matthews

was born in Mon Chagrin Street, San Fernando, in south Trinidad. Her father was a migrant to Trinidad from Grenada, while her mother was a native of the island. Lewis first attended St. Paul’s Primary Anglican School and later St. Gabriel’s Girls’ Roman Catholic School. Following her successful graduation from primary school, Lewis became a schoolteacher in training. She married in 1941, but two years later, that union was dissolved and she rejoined her parents and siblings, who had moved to the Mon Repos Housing Scheme, San Fernando. Her post-primary education included shorthand and typewriting lessons (Cummings, 2009 pp 25 and 30 After leaving school she became a secretary to the law practitioner Algernon Birkett While he was generally viewed by the Trinidad public as an unqualified grass roots lawyer his contacts opened the way for Lewis to become involved in issues affecting the masses and to ...


Marson, Una  

Alison Donnell

Jamaicanpoet, playwright, and journalist born in the county parish of St Elizabeth. As the daughter of a middle‐class Baptist minister, Marson's intellectual development took place within the context of a religious home and the conservative and colonial Hampton high school, where she had won a scholarship place. When Marson left school in 1922, she directed her studies at commerce and secretarial work, and her decision to work with the Salvation Army and the YMCA in Kingston was an early indication of her commitment to ideas of social justice. Her interests in journalism were also evident, and in 1928 she founded and edited her own monthly journal, The Cosmopolitan: A Monthly Magazine for the Business Youth of Jamaica and the Official Organ of the Stenographers' Association The editorial statement of this bold and defiantly modern publication with a strong emphasis on women s issues proclaimed This ...


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 ...


Morris-Knibb, Mary Leonora  

Veronica Marie Gregg

and the first black woman elected to political office in Jamaica, was born Mary Lenora Morris in Newmarket, St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica in 1886. She later married Zechariah Knibb, a foreman. Raised in the Moravian Church, she had an impressive career as an educator and social activist, graduating from the venerable Shortwood Teachers’ College in Kingston, the Jamaican capital, in the early twentieth century. She then established the Morris-Knibb Preparatory School in the capital, in 1928, also serving as its first principal. In addition, she cofounded and served as president of the Women’s Liberal Club in 1936. She also founded the Shortwood Old Girls’ Association in 1937 and the following year in the wake of a series of labor disputes across the island Morris Knibb became a prominent member of the National Reform Association the forerunner of the People s National Party PNP alongside its future ...


Rivera, Louis Reyes  

Louis Reyes Rivera, born in New York, New York, was deeply influenced by the Black Power Movement in the Caribbean and by Black Power in the United States. His poems have been published in several collections of work by many artists, including Aloud Voices from the Nuyoricans Poets ...


Teshea, Ursula Isabel  

Gelien Matthews

and ambassador for the government of Trinidad and Tobago under the leadership of the People’s National Movement (PNM) at a time when few women participated in the country’s political affairs, was christened Isabel Ursula Cadogan at birth. She was born on 24 July 1911 in San Fernando Trinidad Her father Thomas was a tailor and her mother Maude was a housewife Teshea grew up in Princes Town in South Trinidad and attended the Princes Town Government Primary School Limited opportunities and the difficulties involved in accessing secondary education in early twentieth century Trinidad and Tobago were partly responsible for Teshea becoming a pupil teacher student teacher upon her completion of education at the primary level Her second major job was in the dairy branch of the Petit Morne Sugar Estate in Ste Madeleine she was later transferred to the sugar office to perform clerical duties When Teshea migrated from ...