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Josephine Baker Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1949. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93000).

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Baker, Josephine (03 June 1906–12 April 1975), dancer, singer, and civil rights activist, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Eddie Carson, a musician, and Carrie Macdonald. Her parents parted when Josephine was still an infant, and her mother married Arthur Martin, which has led to some confusion about her maiden name. Very little is known about her childhood, except that she was a witness to the East St. Louis riot in 1917. This event was often a feature of her talks in the 1950s and 1960s about racism and the fight for equality, which fostered the oft-repeated assertion that the family was resident in East St. Louis. Before the age of eighteen Josephine had been married twice, first to Willie Wells and then to William Baker, to whom she was married in Camden, New Jersey, in September 1921....

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See Hutchinson Family Singers

Article

Simone, Nina (21 February 1933–21 April 2003), African American jazz singer, pianist, songwriter, and civil rights activist, was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina, the sixth of eight children of John Divine Waymon, a barber and owner of a dry-cleaning business, and Mary Kate Irvin, a housekeeper and minister. Eunice was an accomplished musician at a young age who began playing piano for St. Luke's Christian Methodist Episcopal Church when she was six years old. Mary Kate encouraged Eunice's musical pursuits but discouraged her taking part in nonreligious music, including blues, jazz, and Tin Pan Alley....

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Nina Simone. Photograph, 1982.