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Alston, Melvin Ovenus (07 October 1911–30 December 1985), educator, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of William Henry “Sonnie” Alston, a drayman, and Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith, a laundress. Of middle-class background in terms of an African-American family in the urban South in the 1920s, he grew up in a house that his family owned, free of any mortgage. After attending Norfolk’s segregated black public schools and graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, he graduated from Virginia State College (B.S., 1935), honored for his debating and for excellence in scholarship, and began teaching math at Booker T. Washington High School in 1935. Beginning in 1937 he served as president of the Norfolk Teachers Association, and he also held local leadership positions in the Young Men’s Christian Association and the First Calvary Baptist Church....

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Blackwell, Randolph Talmadge (10 March 1927–21 May 1981), attorney, educator, and civil rights activist, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, the son of Joe Blackwell and Blanche Mary Donnell. He attended the city’s public schools for African-American youth and earned a B.S. in sociology from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University in Greensboro in 1949. Four years later Blackwell earned a J.D. degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. In December 1954 he married Elizabeth Knox. The couple had one child. After teaching economics for a year at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College in Normal, Alabama, near Huntsville, Blackwell became an associate professor of social sciences at Winston-Salem State Teachers College in North Carolina....

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Breaux, Joseph Arsenne (18 February 1838–23 July 1926), jurist and educator, was born at Bayou Goula in Iberville Parish, Louisiana, the son of John B. Breaux and Margaret Walsh, planters. After completing his undergraduate work at Georgetown College in Kentucky, Breaux studied law at the University of Louisiana (now Tulane) and graduated in 1859. Admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1860, he opened his law office in New Iberia. In 1861 Breaux married Eugenia Mille; they had no children....

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Michael H. Cardozo. Courtesy of Michael H. Cardozo V.

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Cardozo, Michael H. (15 September 1910–20 October 1996), lawyer, educator, and government adviser, was born Michael Hart Cardozo IV in New York City, the son of Ernest Abraham Cardozo, a lawyer, and Emily Rebecca Wolff Cardozo. He was a first cousin of United States Supreme Court Justice ...

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Cary, Mary Ann Camberton Shadd (09 October 1823–05 June 1893), African-American educator, journalist/editor, and lawyer, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Abraham Doras Shadd and Harriet Parnell. Although the eldest of thirteen children, Mary Ann Shadd grew up in comfortable economic circumstances. Little is known about her mother except that she was born in North Carolina in 1806 and was of mixed black and white heritage; whether she was born free or a slave is unknown. Shadd’s father was also of mixed-race heritage. His paternal grandfather, Jeremiah Schad, was a German soldier who had fought in the American Revolution and later married Elizabeth Jackson, a free black woman from Pennsylvania. Abraham Shadd had amassed his wealth as a shoemaker, and his property by the 1830s was valued at $5,000. He was a respected member of the free black community in Wilmington and in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where the family had moved sometime in the 1830s, and he served as a delegate to the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1835 and 1836....

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Crandall, Prudence (03 September 1803–28 January 1890), abolitionist and teacher, was born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, the daughter of Pardon Crandall, a Quaker farmer, and Esther Carpenter. When Crandall was ten her family moved to another farm in Canterbury, Connecticut. As a young woman she spent a few years (1825–1826, 1827–1830) at the New England Friends’ Boarding School in Providence and also taught school for a time in Plainfield, Connecticut....

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Donovan, James Britt (29 February 1916–19 January 1970), lawyer and educator, was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of John D. Donovan, a surgeon, and Hattie F. O’Connor, a piano teacher. Donovan received a B.A. in English from Fordham University in 1937. Throughout his schooling he pursued interests in journalism and writing, and upon graduation he persuaded his wealthy father to buy him a small newspaper, with the condition that he complete law school first. Donovan received an LL.B. from Harvard in 1940. He joined a law firm in New York City that represented several newspaper interests. Publishing and insurance law quickly became permanent interests. Donovan married Mary E. McKenna in 1941; the couple had four children....

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Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Seated right, with J. E. Fellows, dean of admissions at the University of Oklahoma, seated left, and, standing left to right, Thurgood Marshall and Amos T. Hall, 1948. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-84479).

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Fisher, Ada Lois Sipuel (08 February 1924–18 October 1995), civil rights pioneer, lawyer, and educator, was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, the daughter of Travis B. Sipuel, a minister and later bishop of the Church of Christ in God, one of the largest black Pentecostal churches in the United States, and Martha Bell Smith, the child of a former slave. Her parents moved to Chickasaw, Oklahoma, shortly after the Tulsa race riot of 1921....