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Anastacia  

John Burdick

The worship of Anastacia began in Brazil in the early 1970s The devotion to her centers upon a striking portrait of a young black woman with piercing blue eyes wearing a face iron an iron face mask that slaves were made to wear as a form of punishment Legend has it that Anastacia was tortured with the face iron when she refused to submit to the lust of her master Legend also has it that before she died she forgave her master and cured his child of a fatal disease Although the Catholic Church denounces the devotion to her as superstition at best and heresy at worst millions of Brazilians of all colors are deeply devoted to this woman whom they regard as possessing in death unparalleled supernatural powers Many of her devotees carry a small medallion of her image around their neck others keep a card with her ...

Article

Atwell, Winifred  

Philip Herbert

Famous pianist in the United Kingdom during the 1950s, selling over 20 million records. She was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad, in February 1914. She studied the piano as a child and had a local following. It was hoped that she would eventually work for the family business, after her training in pharmacy.

To gain further musical training, Atwell moved to the United States in 1945, and then came to London in 1946, to the Royal Academy of Music, to become a concert pianist. To sustain her studies, she performed piano rags at hotels, theatres, and clubs in London. By 1950 she had attained national celebrity, and signed to record with Decca. She recorded such hits as Let's Have a Ding‐Dong, Poor People of Paris, Britannia Rag, and many others. The Black and White Rag became the signature tune for the BBC's Pot Black ...

Article

Baker, LaVern  

Barry Marshall

singer, was born in Chicago as Delores Williams. Nothing is known about her parents. Raised by her aunt, Merline Baker, also known as the blues singer Memphis Minnie, Baker started singing almost as soon as she could walk, both in her Baptist church and in the street. She grew up in poverty and sang for change on the downtown Chicago streets from the age of three. She started singing professionally as a teenager at the Club Delisa, decked out in down-home clothes and billed as “Little Miss Sharecropper.” The “Sharecropper” sobriquet was a takeoff on the popular blues shouter “Little Miss Cornshucks,” and although it garnered her attention at the time, she was embarrassed by it later in her life. She also appeared at different venues as Bea Baker.

At the age of seventeen, Baker moved to Detroit. By 1947 she was appearing regularly at ...

Article

Bakhita, Josephine  

Enrico Ille

freed slave and Roman Catholic saint in Sudan, was born in the Darfur region near Agilerei Mountain, northeast of Nyala. Her father was a wealthy Daju (black African Muslim) who owned numerous cattle and a farm cultivated by servants. She had three brothers and four sisters, one of whom was kidnapped into slavery around 1874. Around 1876, Bakhita, which means “fortunate” in Arabic and is not her original name, was herself taken by slave traders; and after a failed attempt to escape, she was bought by a merchant in al-Ubayyid, where she served his two daughters. She was subsequently purchased around 1879 by an Ottoman army officer, who moved with his household to Khartoum in 1882 In this family she was treated brutally with whipping and scarification but several months afterward she was acquired by an Italian consular agent Callisto Legnani When he was forced by political ...

Article

Beigh, Ada  

Hassoum Ceesay

merchant, community leader, and socialite, was born Ada Jagne to Francis and Marie Jagne in Bathurst (now Banjul), Gambia. Little is known of her life before 1916, when she married Job Beigh, the richest merchant in Bathurst. Job owned choice real estate in Bathurst, many warehouses and shops, and a fleet of riverboats that transported merchandise to the ports of the Gambia River for European firms.

Job Beigh's career as a merchant exemplified the cutthroat business environment in the Gambia colony in the second half of the nineteenth century. He was born in Bathurst in 1847 and, following his secondary education in Freetown, Sierra Leone, he began his business career as a clerk with the Bathurst Trading Company, one of the six major European companies operating in Bathurst and upriver towns. Later, Job started trading on his own account in Bathurst in 1888 He was ...

Article

Bell, Dennis  

Sibyl Collins Wilson

journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in Muskegon, Michigan, to Ezra Douglas and Natalie VanArsdale Bell. As a youngster, Bell was such a committed reader that visits to the library were withheld from him as punishment for misbehaving. His love for reading served him well throughout his life.

Bell enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968 and remained in the service until 1970, after which he attended the University of Michigan for a year. After relocating to New York, he attended Hofstra University for free because he worked as a custodian, maintaining classrooms in 1970. Applying those same principles of hard work in exchange for opportunity, he joined the staff at Newsday and worked his way up from custodian to Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist. According to a biography written for the Pulitzer Prize award book, he held many positions in the Newsday organization including porter clerk ...

Article

Boubacha, Djamila  

Zahia Smail Salhi

Algerian activist, was born in the Casbah of Algiers to a middle-class family. Djamila Boubacha (also spelled Boupacha) is one of the many young Algerian women who mobilized in the fight against French colonialism under the aegis of the Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962). She was a liaison agent for the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN; National Liberation Front) whose main task was to act as a go-between for FLN fighters in the maquis (guerrilla army) and the civilian population in the cities, towns, and villages. She was arrested on 10 February 1960, at the age of twenty-two, and illegally detained for allegedly planting a bomb that was defused before it could detonate in the student restaurant at the University of Algiers. Her trial was scheduled for 17 June 1959 although there were no witnesses who could identify her nor any proof that she had deposited ...

Article

Brown, Wilson  

Marlene L. Daut

escaped slave, navy landsman, and U.S. Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1841 of unknown parentage. Brown was a slave in Mississippi on a cotton plantation, and nothing is known of his childhood or to whom he belonged. In the early 1860s, at the start of the Civil War, Brown ran away from his master on a skiff that eventually managed to reach a Union ship stationed on the Mississippi River. This encounter with the navy probably accounts for his subsequent enlistment. The navy was a likely choice for an escaped slave; many escaped slaves, as well as free blacks from the North, were often drawn to the service because of its better pay and purported fairer treatment of blacks. Brown enlisted in the Union navy on 18 March 1863 under the title 1st Class Boy and was officially described as a Contraband Negro five ...

Article

Bunche, Ralph  

Thomas Clarkin

scholar and diplomat, was born Ralph Johnson Bunche in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Fred Bunch, a barber, and Olive Agnes Johnson. His grandmother added an “e” to the family's last name following a move to Los Angeles, California. Because his family moved frequently, Bunche attended a number of public schools before graduating first in his class from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles in 1922. He majored in Political Science at the University of California, Southern Branch (now University of California, Los Angeles [UCLA]), graduating summa cum laude and serving as class valedictorian in 1927. He continued his studies in political science at Harvard, receiving his MA in 1928, and then taught at Howard University in Washington, D.C., while working toward his PhD at Harvard. In 1930 he married Ruth Ethel Harris they had three children Bunche traveled to Europe and Africa researching ...

Article

Bunche, Ralph J.  

Ben Keppel

Born in Detroit, the son of a barber, Bunche graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1927 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in government from Harvard in 1934. His dissertation, French Administration in Togoland and Dahomey, won an award as the best political science dissertation produced at Harvard that year. Bunche founded the political science department at Howard University, where he taught from 1928 to 1950. His book A World View of Race (1936) saw racial conflict as a product of class conflict. He was an influential adviser to the Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal on his classic 1944 study of U.S. race relations, An American Dilemma. Bunche married Ruth Ethel Harris, a Washington, D.C., schoolteacher, in 1930. They had three children.

During World War II Bunche served in the Office of Strategic Services ...

Article

Bunche, Ralph Johnson  

Lawrie Balfour

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Ralph Johnson Bunche spent his early years with his parents in Detroit and in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He attributed his achievements to the influence of his maternal grandmother, Lucy Johnson, with whom he lived in Los Angeles, California, after he was orphaned at age thirteen. Johnson not only insisted that her grandson be self-reliant and proud of his race, but also that he, a high school valedictorian, go to college.

Bunche enrolled at the University of California at Los Angeles, and after graduating summa cum laude in 1927, he entered graduate school at Harvard University in Massachusetts. He was the first black American to earn a Ph.D. degree in political science from an American university. Bunche won the prize for the outstanding doctoral thesis in the social sciences in 1934 He conducted his postdoctoral research on African colonialism He did his research ...

Article

Bunche, Ralph Johnson  

Joseph C. Heim

scholar, university professor, diplomat, UN administrator, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. In the 1950s and 1960s Bunche was the most visible African American on the world stage. But his accomplishments were far in the future when he was born in modest circumstances in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Fred Bunche, a barber, and Olive Bunche. His parents, however, were constantly in poor health, and after their early deaths Bunche was raised by his grandmother, Lucy Johnson, in Los Angeles.

His grandmother s diligence and inspiration guided and shaped Bunche s youth and he compiled a record of stellar achievement both in athletics he later was a guard on the basketball team of the University of California at Los Angeles UCLA and in academics This he did while holding numerous jobs from delivering newspapers to laying carpets on merchant ships His early years also ...

Article

Camara, M’Balia  

Elizabeth Schmidt

Guinean political activist, was born into a farming family in the Lower Guinea village of Posseya in 1929. She was a political activist in the town of Tondon in the mid-1950s. A member of the Guinean branch of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA), Camara led the local RDA women’s committee. Toward the end of World War II, she married Thierno Camara, a military veteran who was later elected president of the Tondon RDA subsection.

A hotbed of opposition to government- appointed canton (administrative district) chiefs, Tondon attracted the attention of the French colonial authorities on 9 February 1955 when Thierno Camara and other RDA militants were arrested for undermining chiefly authority When villagers tried to thwart their leader s arrest Chief David Sylla attacked the crowd with his saber and gun seriously wounding several demonstrators He then entered the Camaras house and attacked M Balia Camara who was ...

Article

Cameron, James Herbert  

Rose Pelone Sisson

survivor of a lynching attempt, civil rights activist, and founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum, was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to James Herbert Cameron, a barber, and Vera Cameron who was employed as a laundress, cook, and housekeeper. At the age of fifteen months, James was the first African American baby ever admitted as a patient to the St. Francis Hospital in La Crosse, where he underwent an emergency operation on the abdominal cavity. By the time James started school, his parents had moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and his parents separated.

When Cameron was sixteen he was living with his mother, two sisters, and grandmother in Marion, Indiana. His stepfather Hezikiah Burden hunted and fished long distances from home so was away from his family most of the time The family lived in a segregated section of Marion Indiana which counted about four thousand blacks among its ...

Article

Cochrane, Kelso  

David Dabydeen

West Indiancarpenter murdered in Notting Hill by white youths. Britain was particularly racially tense in the late 1950s, when the white working classes felt culturally and economically threatened by the presence of Blacks. Two active political groups in the Notting Hill area were the White Defence League and the National Labour Party, one claiming to be a Nazi group, the other a racial nationalist one. The culmination of the situation were the ‘race’ riots in 1958 in Notting Hill. One of the tragic results of these events was the murder of Cochrane, an Antiguan who was on his way back from the hospital after having had his broken thumb bandaged. He was stabbed with a knife in May 1958 by six white youths who were never caught. Following Cochrane's murder, the black activist Claudia Jones campaigned for the black community and helped to organize strategies for approaching the ...

Article

Cole, Maria Hawkins  

Andre D. Vann

singer, writer, and socialite, was born Maria Hawkins in the Roxbury section of Boston, Massachusetts. Her father, Mingo Hawkins, was a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service, which at the time was considered a prestigious position for an African American; her mother, Carol Saunders, was from Bermuda. Maria was born the second of three daughters, and when she was only two years old her mother died while giving birth to her youngest sister, Carol. Immediately all three girls were sent to live with their father's sister, Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, who was the founder and president of the Palmer Memorial Institute, the nation's most distinguished finishing school for blacks. There Cole was exposed to the likes of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary McCleod Bethune, and even Eleanor Roosevelt, among other noteworthy guests.

As a student at the Palmer Memorial Institute Cole ...

Article

Collins, Addie Mae  

Steven J. Niven

schoolgirl and terrorist bombing victim, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the seventh of eight surviving children of Oscar Collins, a busboy in a Chinese restaurant, and Aline Collins, a domestic. Addie Mae grew up in a small four-room house on a dirt road in Sixth Court West, one of Birmingham's poorest neighborhoods. When her parents separated, making an already difficult home life even harder, Addie Mae and her sisters Janie and Sarah helped the family finances by going door to door after school, selling cotton aprons and potholders that their mother made. Interviewed by the Birmingham News in April 2001, her sisters recalled that Addie Mae was a quiet—but by no means shy or timid—child who emerged as the peacemaker whenever quarrels broke out in the family. “She just always wanted us to love one another and treat each other right,” her younger sister Sarah remembered.

In ...

Article

Crawford, Anthony P.  

Caroline DeVoe

businessman, landowner, farmer, and lynching victim, was born into slavery in Abbeville, South Carolina, the youngest son of Thomas and Louisa, slaves on the plantation of Ben Crawford in Abbeville, South Carolina. After Emancipation and Ben Crawford's death, his widow Rebecca may have bequeathed land to her former slave, Thomas, Anthony's father. Thomas continued to acquire land, and in 1873 he purchased 181 acres of fertile land from Samuel McGowan, a former Confederate general and South Carolina Supreme Court Justice. Thomas Crawford's “homeplace” was located in an alluvial valley, approximately seven miles west of the town of Abbeville. The rich land was flanked on the east by Little River and on the west by Penny Creek.

While Crawford's brothers worked the family farm Anthony was sent to school walking seven miles to and from school each day Seventeen year old Anthony was ...

Article

Dahmer, Vernon Ferdinand  

Mark Newman

civil rights activist, was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the eighth of twelve children of a white father, George Dahmer, and a mother of mixed racial heritage, Ellen Kelly. Vernon Dahmer's complex heritage derived from both sides of the family. Born the illegitimate son of a German immigrant and a white American mother, George Dahmer had been raised with eight younger black siblings, the result of his mother's later marriage to a former slave. Ellen Kelly was the daughter of a white planter father, who gave Ellen and George Dahmer part of his land near Hattiesburg, Kelly Settlement. The Dahmer children looked white and three of Vernon's five brothers migrated to the North, where they married white women and passed as white. Some members of the family on both sides of the color divide were ignorant of the existence of relatives on the other. In adulthood, Vernon Dahmer ...

Article

De Klerk, Frederik Willem  

Ari Nave

F. W. De Klerk was born to an Afrikaner family with a long history of involvement in South African politics. His own political career began during adolescence, when he joined the youth section of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party.

In 1958 De Klerk received a law degree from Potchef- stroom University. He practiced law in Veereniging from 1961 until 1972, all the while serving as chairman of the local chapter of the National Party. He then abandoned his law career and became a member of Parliament in South Africa. De Klerk rose quickly through the party’s rank and file, with appointments to numerous cabinet posts. As a minister he had little patience for antiapartheid protests but was known as a conciliator within the party.

After South African president Pieter Willem Botha had a heart attack in 1989 De Klerk became the leader of the National Party Later that ...