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Blacks at Harvard

A Documentary History of African-American Experience At Harvard and Radcliffe

Werner Sollors, Caldwell Titcomb, Thomas Underwood, Randall Kennedy,

Publication Year: 1993

The history of blacks at Harvard mirrors, for better or for worse, the history of blacks in the United States. Harvard, too, has been indelibly scarred by slavery, exclusion, segregation, and other forms of racist oppression. At the same time, the nation's oldest university has also, at various times, stimulated, supported, or allowed itself to be influenced by the various reform movements that have dramatically changed the nature of race relations across the nation. The story of blacks at Harvard is thus inspiring but painful, instructive but ambiguous—a paradoxical episode in the most vexing controversy of American life: the "race question."

The first and only book on its subject, Blacks at Harvard is distinguished by the rich variety of its sources. Included in this documentary history are scholarly overviews, poems, short stories, speeches, well-known memoirs by the famous, previously unpublished memoirs by the lesser known, newspaper accounts, letters, official papers of the university, and transcripts of debates. Among Harvard's black alumni and alumnae are such illustrious figures as W.E.B. Du Bois, Monroe Trotter, and Alain Locke; Countee Cullen and Sterling Brown both received graduate degrees. The editors have collected here writings as diverse as those of Booker T. Washington, William Hastie, Malcolm X, and Muriel Snowden to convey the complex ways in which Harvard has affected the thinking of African Americans and the ways, in turn, in which African Americans have influenced the traditions of Harvard and Radcliffe.

Notable among the contributors are significant figures in African American letters: Phyllis Wheatley, William Melvin Kelley, Marita Bonner, James Alan McPherson and Andrea Lee. Equally prominent in the book are some of the nation's leading historians: Carter Woodson, Rayford Logan, John Hope Franklin, and Nathan I. Huggins. A vital sourcebook, Blacks at Harvard is certain to nourish scholarly inquiry into the social and intellectual history of African Americans at elite national institutions and serves as a telling metaphor of this nation's past.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-xii

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

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pp. xiii-xvi

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INTRODUCTION: BLACKS AND THE RACE QUESTION AT HARVARD

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pp. xvii-xxxvi

The history of blacks at Harvard mirrors, for better or for worse, the history of blacks in the United States. Harvard, too, has been indelibly scarred by slavery, exclusion, segregation, and other forms of racist oppression. At the same time, the nation's oldest university has also supported and allowed itself to be influenced by the various...

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THE BLACK PRESENCE AT HARVARD: AN OVERVIEW

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pp. 1-8

The earliest reference to a black at Harvard was the admission by the wife of the College's first head that a slave had lain on a student's bed in 1639. As the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries rolled on, the list of the leading slaveholding families in Massachusetts contained the...

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PHILLIS WHEATLEY

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pp. 9-10

Phillis Wheatley was born sometime in 1753 (perhaps 1754) in West Africa and brought to Boston on a slave ship in 1761. Though frail, she was bought by the well-known merchant John Wheatley and his wife Susanna, and given the name of the schooner that had borne her. Spared from hard...

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A FORENSIC DISPUTE ON THE LEGALITY OF ENSLAVING THE AFRICANS, HELD AT THE PUBLIC COMMENCEMENT IN CAMBRIDGE, NEW-ENGLAND (BOSTON, 1773)

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pp. 11-18

From Harvard's very first Commencement in 1642, it was standard practice for the public exercises to include lengthy debates in which two degree candidates took opposing sides of a given topic. At the Commencement on 21 July 1773 two seniors engaged in a disputation on the legitimacy of...

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MARTIN R. DELANY AND THE HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL

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pp. 19-36

Trouble among the Medical Students of Harvard University—The following facts have been collected respecting some unhappy proceedings last week at the Massachusetts Medical College in this city. Among the students attending the medical lectures, are three colored young men. One of them is from Pittsburgh, Pa.; one belongs in this city,...

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RICHARD T. GREENER: THE FIRST BLACK HARVARD COLLEGE GRADUATE

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pp. 37-58

Richard Theodore Greener 70 was the first Negro to graduate from Harvard College. . . . A Harvard education was by no means Greener's youthful ambition; in fact, though his grandfather had taught in a school for colored children in Baltimore, there was no college tradition in his family. His father, when Greener was born on January 30,1844, in Philadelphia, was a...

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CLEMENT G. MORGAN

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pp. 59-68

Clement Garnett Morgan was born in Stafford County, Virginia, on 9 January 1859. His slave parents, on being emancipated, moved to Washington, where their son attended high school. Morgan then worked as a barber and went to St. Louis to teach school for four years. Craving a college education, he spent two years at Boston Latin School as preparation...

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W.E.B. DU BOIS

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pp. 69-90

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born on 23 February 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where he was the only black member of his high-school graduating class in 1884. After a year's mill job and a scholarship offer, he had the wherewithal to go to all-black Fisk University in Tennessee, where he was granted sophomore standing, edited the school...

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W. MONROE TROTTER

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pp. 91-100

William Monroe Trotter was born on 7 April 1872 in Ohio, but grew up in a Boston suburb. At Harvard not only was he the first black student ever elected to Phi Beta Kappa, but he also received this honor as one of the First Eight chosen in the spring of his junior year. After being graduated...

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BOOKER T. WASHINGTON

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pp. 101-112

Booker Taliaferro Washington was born a plantation slave near Hale's Ford, Virginia, on 5 April 1856. He acquired a rudimentary education and eventually worked his way through Hampton Institute, graduating in 1875. In 1881 he was chosen to be the founding principal of Tuskegee Institute in...

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WILLIAM H. FERRIS

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pp. 113-122

William Henry Ferris was born on 20 July 1874 in New Haven, Connecticut, where he was graduated from Hillhouse High School in 1891. In 1895, he received an A.B. from Yale University, which also awarded him an M.A. in 1899. He accepted an invitation to become a charter member of the American Negro Academy in 1897, at which time he entered Harvard...

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LESLIE PINCKNEY HILL

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pp. 123-128

Leslie Pinckney Hill was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on 14 May 1880, the son of a former slave. As a youth he mastered the trumpet and envisioned a career in music. When his family moved to East Orange, New Jersey, he transferred to the local high school and, by accelerated study, was able to skip the junior year, winding up near the top of his graduating class in 1898....

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AI AIN LOCKE

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pp. 129-152

Alain LeRoy Locke was born to schoolteacher parents on 13 September 1886 in Philadelphia, where he attended Central High School and the Philadelphia School of Pedagogy. A member of the Harvard class of 1908, he completed his requirements in three years, and received his A.B. magna cum laude in 1907, also winning the top Bowdoin Prize for an essay on...

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EDWARD SMYTH JONES

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pp. 153-158

Edward Smyth Jones was born in Natchez, Mississippi, sometime in March of 1881. His slave parents, Hawk and Rebecca, lacked formal education, but he attended local schools and developed a taste for reading and writing. For fourteen months during 1902-03 he studied at nearby Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in exchange for labor. Continuing his reading and...

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EVA B. DYKES

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pp. 159-168

Eva Beatrice Dykes was born on 13 August 1893 in Washington, D.C., where she attended the famous M Street (later Dunbar) High School and went on to get an AB. from Howard University in 1914. With financial assistance from her uncle and from scholarship funds, she entered Radcliffe, majored...

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CAROLINE BOND DAY

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pp. 169-188

Caroline Stewart Bond Day was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on 18 November 1889, the daughter of Moses and Georgia Stewart. Upon her mother's second marriage, to John Bond, Caroline Stewart took her stepfather's surname. She attended Atlanta University, from which she received an A.B. in 1912. For a year she taught at Alabama Agricultural and...

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MARCUS GARVEY

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pp. 189-194

Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, on 17 August 1887, the youngest of eleven children. A period of foreign travel, observation, and reading (1909-14) led him on his return to Jamaica to found the Universal Negro Improvement Association, whose goal was "the...

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THE HARVARD DORMITORY CRISIS (1921–23)

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pp. 195-228

Harvard's President A. Lawrence Lowell touched off the most publicized college discrimination controversy of the 1920s when he simultaneously barred Negroes from the freshman dormitories and inaugurated a quota system for Jewish students. Lowell's rationale...

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MARITA O. BONNER

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pp. 229-234

Marieta (later Marita) Odette Bonner was born in Boston on 16 June 1898 and grew up in neighboring Brookline. She attended Brookline High School, where she wrote for the student magazine, The Sagamore, and was graduated in 1917. After a year at the Cabot School, she entered Radcliffe in the fall of 1918, and majored in English and Comparative Literature...

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STERLING A. BROWN

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pp. 235-240

Sterling Allen Brown was born on 1 May 1901 in Washington, D.C., where he went to the famous Dunbar High School. He attended Williams College as one of four black students (one in each class), was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year, and took his B.A. in 1922. The following year he...

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COUNTÉE CULLEN

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pp. 241-254

Countee Leroy Porter Cullen was born on 30 May 1903, the unproven claimants to place being Louisville, Baltimore, and New York City (the first seems the likeliest). We do not know who his natural parents were, but he was adopted as a teenager by a New York minister. He attended the mostly white De Witt Clinton High School, where he was editor-in-chief of the...

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RALPH BUNCHE

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pp. 255-260

Ralph Johnson Bunche was born in Detroit on 7 August 1904. Grandson of a slave, he was orphaned at twelve and thereafter cared for by his maternal grandmother in Los Angeles, where he was valedictorian of his high-school class. A gifted debater, he also won a four-year athletic scholarship to UCLA, where he played on three champion basketball teams....

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WILLIAM H. HASTIE

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pp. 261-270

William Henry Hastie was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on 17 November 1904, the only child of a college-educated father and a schoolteacher mother. He attended the celebrated Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., finishing as class valedictorian and winning a scholarship to Amherst. One of four blacks in his class, he majored in mathematics and German, was...

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RAYFORD W. LOGAN

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pp. 271-280

Rayford Whittingham Logan, a butler's son, was born on 7 January 1897 in Washington, D.C., where he attended the Thaddeus Stevens School and the renowned M Street (later Dunbar) High School. At Williams College he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and received a B.A. in 1917 and an MA. in 1929. During World War I he was a first lieutenant in the all-black 93rd...

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LEADBELLY

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pp. 281-286

Huddie William Ledbetter was born outside Mooringsport, Louisiana, on 21 January 1885. He learned music from his mother (a choir director) and two musical uncles, and became known as the best guitarist and singer in the region by the age of 16. After his first marriage he moved to Texas, where he met the famous bluesman "Blind" Lemon Jefferson, who performed with...

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JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN

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pp. 287-296

John Hope Franklin was born on 2 January 1915 in the tiny black Oklahoma town of Rentiesville, where his father was its postmaster and only lawyer. Both parents were college-educated and kept plenty of books at home. After the family moved to Tulsa, Franklin attended the all-black Booker T. Washington High School, where he was active in debating, singing, and...

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MURIEL SNOWDEN

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pp. 297-300

Muriel Sutherland Snowden was born in Orange, New Jersey, on 14 July 1916, one of three children of a dentist. She grew up in nearby Glen Ridge and was class valedictorian at its high school. She received her A.B. from Radcliffe in 1938 with a concentration in Romance Languages, but soon decided that her future lay in social work. From 1938 to 1943 she worked...

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ELIZABETH FITZGERALD HOWARD

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pp. 301-310

[Gertrude] Elizabeth Fitzgerald was born on 28 December 1927 in Baltimore, Maryland. Moving to the Boston area, she attended Brookline High School. At Radcliffe she concentrated in history and developed a lasting love of choral singing. She was elected secretary of the junior class and, the next year, president and class marshal (the first black in Radcliffe....

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HAROLD R. SCOTT

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pp. 311-316

Harold Russell Scott Jr. was born in Morristown, New Jersey, on 6 September 1935. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, majored in English at Harvard, and received his degree in 1957. As an undergraduate he demonstrated astonishing versatility as an actor in roles ranging from the...

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WILLIAM MELVIN KELLEY

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pp. 317-334

William Melvin Kelley Jr. was born in New York City on 1 November 1937. After attending the private Fieldston School, he spent parts of five years at Harvard (Class of '60) but left before completing his degree. An English concentrator, he studied with novelist John Hawkes and three-time Pulitzer...

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THE AFRICAN AND AFRO-AMERICAN SOCIETY CONTROVERSY

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pp. 335-342

In the spring term of 1963, black students held informal meetings with a view to establishing an official organization, the Association of African and Afro-American Students. In late April, they adopted a constitution; but on 6 May the Harvard Council for Undergraduate...

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MALCOLM X

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pp. 343-368

Born Malcolm Little on 19 May 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, the self-educated Black Muslim minister became famous as Malcolm X. He was assassinated in New York on 21 February 1965. The visits of Malcolm X came at important turning points in his intellectual development. He came to Harvard to give speeches on three separate and significant occasions: once in 1961,...

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JAMES ALAN McPHERSON

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pp. 369-378

James Alan McPherson was born in Savannah, Georgia, on 16 September 1943. Working as a dining-car waiter during the summer, he earned a B.A in English and history from Morris Brown College in 1965. Recruited by Harvard Law School, he financed his Cambridge studies in part as janitor of an apartment house next door to the Harvard Crimson building, and received...

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THE FOUNDING OF THE AFRO-AMERICAN STUDIES DEPARTMENT

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pp. 379-406

On April 9, 1968, a year to the day before the seizure of University Hall, 80 black students stood alone on the steps of Memorial Church. Inside the church, President Pusey led more than 1200 mourners, all but a handful of them white, in eulogizing Martin Luther King, slain five days before in Memphis. Outside, the members of the Association...

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THE 1969 YEARBOOK

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pp. 407-426

Muriel Morisey Spence was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, on 7 September 1947, attended school in Philadelphia, and was a history concentrator at Radcliffe, from which she was graduated in 1969. After short stints as a teacher in Boston and a journalist in Washington, she...

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ERNEST J. WILSON III

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pp. 427-434

Ernest James Wilson III was born on 3 May 1948 in Washington, D.C., where he attended the Capitol Page School. At Harvard he was business manager of the Harvard Journal of Negro Affairs, and edited its special issue on "The Black Press/ A concentrator in government, he received his AB. in 1970. Pursuing graduate studies in Berkeley at the University of...

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EMORY J. WEST

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pp. 435-444

Emory Junior West was born on 5 February 1950 and grew up in Miami, where he attended the Dorsey Junior High School and Miami Central High School. At Harvard he won two Hatch Prizes for his poetry, which appeared in the Advocate and the Harvard Journal of Afro-American Affairs. His ardent interest in the early history of blacks at Harvard yielded two exhibits...

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ANDREA LEE

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pp. 445-452

Andrea Nancy Lee was born in Philadelphia on 27 April 1953, and prepared for college at the Baldwin School for Girls in nearby Bryn Mawr. Majoring in English, she was graduated magna cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1974 and received an AM. there in Comparative Literature in 1978. A...

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LEIGH JACKSON

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pp. 453-456

Leigh Alexandra Jackson was born on 29 October 1960 in Washington, D.C., where she prepared for college at the Sidwell Friends School. At Radcliffe she concentrated in philosophy and received her degree in 1982. For a while she worked in New York City for the Columbia University Press and for an...

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THE GREENBERG-CHAMBERS INCIDENT HARVARD LAW SCHOOL, 1982-83

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pp. 457-474

The Third World Coalition of Harvard Law School feels strongly that the course created and taught by former Harvard Law School professor Derrick Bell, Constitutional Law and Minority Issues, should continue to be instructed by a Third World professor. This course is...

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FARAH GRIFFIN

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pp. 475-478

Farah Jasmine Griffin was born in Philadelphia on 23 February 1963, and prepared for college at the Baldwin School for Girls in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate she was a reporter for the Harvard Crimson and was also active in several black organizations. She received her degree in 1985 with honors in History and Literature. Following a period...

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JUDITH JACKSON

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pp. 479-484

Judith Barbara Jackson was born in Chicago on 3 November 1965, and prepared for college at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. At Harvard she won several scholarships, participated in black organizations, served for two years as a freshman prefect, and held posts on the business...

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SHANNAH V. BRAXTON

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pp. 485-490

Shannah Vanessa Braxton was born on 25 August 1966 in Staten Island, New York, where she attended Curtis High School. At Harvard she was active with the Third World Student Alliance and the Harvard Foundation on Race Relations, also serving as president of the Black Students Association in 1986-87. A concentrator in government, she wrote a thesis...

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MARTIN KILSON

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pp. 491-498

Martin Luther Kilson Jr. was born on 14 February 1931 in East Rutherford, New Jersey and educated in a small town in Pennsylvania. He entered Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) in 1949, and became class valedictorian, receiving his B.A. magna cum laude in 1953. At Harvard he earned an M.A. in 1958 and a Ph.D. in political science the next year. He started teaching....

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EILEEN SOUTHERN

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pp. 499-504

Eileen Jackson Southern was born on 19 February 1920 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She attended public schools in several midwestern cities, completing high school in Chicago. Scholarships enabled her to attend the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in 1940 and M.A in 1941. Owing to institutional racism and discrimination in northern colleges at that...

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NATHAN IRVIN HUGGINS

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pp. 505-512

Nathan Irvin Huggins was born in Chicago on 14 January 1927. The University of California at Berkeley conferred on him an A.B. in 1954 and an MA. in 1955. At Harvard he received a second M.A in 1959 and a Ph.D. in history in 1962. He taught at California State University at Long...

NOTE ON THE TEXTS

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p. 513-513

CITATIONS AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. 514-520

READINGS

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pp. 521-538

INDEX

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pp. 539-bc


E-ISBN-13: 9780814788974
E-ISBN-10: 0814788971
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814779736
Print-ISBN-10: 0814779735

Page Count: 582
Publication Year: 1993

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Harvard University -- History -- Sources.
  • African Americans -- Education (Higher) -- Massachusetts -- History -- Sources.
  • United States -- Race relations -- History -- Sources.
  • Radcliffe College -- History -- Sources.
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