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Castro, Sal (25 October 1933–15 April 2013), high school teacher and community activist, was born Salvador Castro in Los Angeles, the only child of Carmen Buruel and Salvador Castro, both Mexican immigrant workers. Because his father was undocumented he was deported in 1935 as part of a repatriation movement that blamed Mexican immigrants for taking jobs from “real Americans” during the Great Depression; Castro and his mother were spared being part of this tragic episode. The separation eventually led to his parents divorcing; his mother later remarried....

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Garrett, Mary Smith (20 June 1839–18 July 1925), educator of deaf children and child welfare advocate, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Henry Garrett, a prominent Philadelphia businessman, and Caroline Rush Cole. Little is known of Garrett’s early life. She began a lifelong career in deaf education in 1881 when she was hired by the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb to teach at the recently established “Oral Branch” (a separate campus where sign language was prohibited). Her younger sister, Emma Garrett, was the head teacher at the time. Mary Garrett had had no formal training in deaf education; her sister however, instructed her in the teaching methods she had learned from ...

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Howe, Samuel Gridley (10 November 1801–09 January 1876), educator of the handicapped and social reformer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Neals Howe, a prosperous maker of ropes and cordage, and Patty Gridley. During the War of 1812, Joseph Howe lost money by selling cordage to the federal government for which he received in payment useless treasury notes, leaving his family in straitened circumstances during Samuel Howe’s boyhood....

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Horton, Myles (9 July 1905–19 Jan. 1990), co-founder of the Highlander School, educator and activist in the labor and civil rights movements, was born Myles Falls Horton in Savannah, Tennessee, the eldest son of Elsie Falls Horton and Perry Horton. Both parents were schoolteachers prior to Horton’s birth, but lost their jobs when the qualifications to teach were increased to include a year of high school, which neither of them possessed. After a number of years of low-paying jobs, Horton’s father became an active participant in the Worker’s Alliance, the union of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), while Horton’s mother volunteered to teach literacy in the community. Horton later said that he took from his mother a belief in the power of love, “the principle of trying to serve people and build a loving world” (Horton, p. 7). These lessons in working for the greater good of society would serve as the guiding force throughout his life....

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McMillan, Enolia (20 October 1904–24 October 2006), educator and civil rights activist, was born Enolia Virginia Pettigan in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. She was the eldest of four children born to former slave John Pettigan and domestic worker Elizabeth Fortune. Her family moved to Cecil County, Maryland in 1912 after her father bought a small farm. She graduated from Baltimore’s Douglass High School in 1922. She was recipient of the first scholarship from the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and attended Howard University, a traditionally black college in Washington, D.C., and graduated with a bachelor of arts in education in 1927....

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Russ, John Dennison (01 September 1801–01 March 1881), educator of the blind, social reformer, and physician, was born in what is now Essex (then part of Ipswich), Essex County, Massachusetts, the son of Parker Russ, a physician, and Elizabeth Cogswell. He graduated from Yale College in 1823 and soon afterward went to Brunswick, Maine, where he studied medicine with Dr. John D. Wells, a member of the faculty of medicine at Bowdoin College (Russ did not enroll at Bowdoin, however). He studied further in Baltimore and Boston and in 1825 received the M.D. degree from Yale Medical School. During 1825 and 1826 Russ was in Europe where he served in several hospitals. After his return to the United States he practiced medicine in New York City....

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White, Edna Noble (03 June 1879–04 May 1954), home economics and child development educator, was born in Fairmount, Illinois, the daughter of Alexander L. White, a prominent local businessman, and Angeline Noble. The second of three children, White grew up in comfortable surroundings with her older sister and younger brother. Her father was a teacher and later a hardware dealer in the small village of Fairmount. Her mother was educated although not professionally employed....