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Posted 2013-02-16T16:45:36Z

Poet, Historian....

Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents divorced when she was only three and she was sent with her brother Bailey to live with their grandmother in the small town of Stamps, Arkansas. In Stamps, the young girl experienced the racial discrimination that was the legally enforced way of life in the American South, but she also absorbed the deep religious faith and old-fashioned courtesy of traditional African American life. She credits her grandmother and her extended family with instilling in her the values that informed her later life and career. She enjoyed a close relationship with her brother. Unable to pronounce her name because of a stutter, Bailey called her "My" for "My sister." A few years later, when he read a book about the Maya Indians, he began to call her "Maya," and the name stuck.
At age seven, while visiting her mother in Chicago, she was sexually molested by her mother's boyfriend. Too ashamed to tell any of the adults in her life, she confided in her brother. When she later heard the news that an uncle had killed her attacker, she felt that her words had killed the man. She fell silent and did not speak for five years.
Maya began to speak again at 13, when she and her brother rejoined their mother in San Francisco. Maya attended Mission High School and won a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco's Labor School, where she was exposed to the progressive ideals that animated her later political activism. She dropped out of school in her teens to become San Francisco's first African American female cable car conductor. She later returned to high school, but became pregnant in her senior year and graduated a few weeks before giving birth to her son, Guy. She left home at 16 and took on the difficult life of a single mother, supporting herself and her son by working as a waitress and cook, but she had not given up on her talents for music, dance, performance and poetry.[...]

Posted 2013-02-15T17:23:10Z


Robert Sutherland was born in Jamaica and came to Kingston, Ontario, to study at Queen's University in 1849. While at Queen's he won 14 academic prizes. In 1852, he graduated with honors in classics and mathematics. He then pursued law and was qualified by 1855. He served as a lawyer in Berlin (now Kitchener) and Walkerton (near Owen Sound) and held a municipal office. Upon his death, Sutherland, who had never married, left his estate of $12,000 to Queen's University. This bestowment allowed Queen's to remain separate from the University of Toronto. Sutherland may have been the first Black student and the first Black graduate of Queen's and the first Black lawyer; he was also clearly one of the most important benefactors of Queen's University.[...]

Posted 2013-02-14T20:15:05Z

She's making history...

Actress, comedienne, TV host, human rights advocate. Born Caryn Elaine Johnson on November 13, 1955, in New York City. Goldberg and her younger brother Clyde were raised by their mother Emma in a housing project in the Chelsea section of Manhattan.[...]

Posted 2013-02-13T23:34:40Z

Publisher, voter....

Born to free parents in Wilmington, Delaware, Mary Ann Shadd was the eldest of 13 children. She was educated by Quakers and later taught throughout the northeastern states. Following in the footsteps of her activist parents, who were part of the Underground Railroad, Shadd pursued the path taken by those heading north to freedom in Canada. Settling in Windsor, she wrote educational booklets outlining the advantages of Canada for settlers willing to work and the need for living within one's means. She set up an integrated school in Windsor that was open to all who could afford to attend (education was not publicly provided at that time). She moved to St. Catharines and then Toronto, where she met and married widower Thomas Cary. To promote information about the successes of Black people living in freedom in Canada, she began the Provincial Freeman newspaper, becoming the first Black woman in North America to publish a newspaper, although at first she had to have a man stand in for her as the apparent publisher.[...]

Posted 2013-02-12T19:33:29Z

One of the lead organizers of the Underground Railroad....

Born an enslaved African in Maryland, Harriet Araminta "Minty" Ross spent her entire childhood working without payment for the benefit of her owners. Preferring the work in the fields, she was able to learn about following geographical directions and about helpful plants from her father and her brothers. These survival skills came in handy when Tubman later realized that the only way she could gain her freedom was to run away. She did follow someone who was making his way to freedom, only to suffer a serious head injury. Despite suffering from seizures and sleep attacks brought on by the injury, Minty later married John Tubman, a free Black man. Her enslavement did not end upon her union to Tubman, so she tried to convince her husband to run north with her, where they could both live in freedom, but he would not go.[...]

Posted 2013-02-11T20:07:44Z

The beginning of change...

On March 14, 1793 Chloe Cooley, an enslaved Black woman in Queenston, Upper Canada, was bound and thrown in a boat to be taken across the river and sold in the United States. She resisted fiercely; Peter Martin, a free Black man, noticed her screams and struggles and brought a witness, William Grisley, to report the incident to Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe.[...]

Posted 2013-02-10T21:03:28Z

Uncle Tom figure helped...

While some have expressed concern over Josiah Henson being the model for Uncle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, the life of Henson is nevertheless inspiring. Born enslaved in Maryland, Henson saw members of his family sold. Later, he served with his mother and became both a trustworthy administrator and a preacher.[...]

Posted 2013-02-09T20:05:49Z

Standing up for her rights...

Black businesswoman Viola Desmond faced segregation in the 1940s.

Born and raised in Halifax, Viola Desmond trained as a teacher but soon joined her husband Jack Desmond in a combined barbershop and hairdressing salon, a beauty parlour on Gottingen Street. While expanding her business across the province, Viola went to New Glasgow in 1946.[...]

Posted 2013-02-08T18:10:24Z

I was never taught this in school...

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her refusal to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus spurred a city-wide boycott. The city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift the law requiring segregation on public buses. Rosa Parks received many accolades during her lifetime, including the NAACP's highest award.[...]

Posted 2013-02-07T23:36:05Z

Emotional intelligence...

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. Some researchers suggest that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened, while others claim it is an inborn characteristic.[...]