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Famous African-Americans Who Enriched Their Lives by Studying Abroad

Every year from Feb. 1 to March 1, the United States and Canada participate in a monthlong celebration honoring the history and many contributions of Africans-Americans. So what better time is there for Go Overseas to recognize the number of awesome African Americans who have studied abroad?

For 2013, the theme for Black History Month is “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality.” This theme was created in light of two very special anniversaries: on Jan. 1, 1863, 150 years ago, the Emancipation Proclamation was set, marking the beginning of the end of slavery. Fast forward one hundred years later in 1973, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a Dream Speech” during the March on Washington. These events are very important in the history of both African-Americans and equality; thus, 2013’s Black History Month is most certainly worth celebrating.

Read on for more information on hardworking and inspiring African-American leaders who studied overseas.

alice walkerAlice Malsenior Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, studied abroad in Kenya and Uganda through Experiment in International Living. She is a well-known American author, poet, and activist, whose work focuses on racial equality.
Marian Wright EdelmanMarian Wright Edelman is an American activist for the rights of children, and the president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. Edelman studied abroad in 1958-59 in both France and Switzerland, after she received the Merrill Scholarship.
james meridithJames Meredith, U.S. civil rights activist and the first African-American student admitted to the University of Mississippi.  After he graduated, he enrolled in a program at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria to further study political science.
sister souljahSister Souljah is an American hip hop-generation author, activist, recording artist and film producer. She became famous during the Clinton-era. While studying at Cornell, she studied abroad at the University of Salamanca in Spain for a semester.
katherine dunhamKatherine Dunham wore many hats: she was a dancer, choreographer, and company director, as well as an author, educator, and social activist. While studying at the University of Chicago, she was awarded a travel fellowship that financed a study abroad trip to the Caribbean.
myronMyron Rolle is a former American football safety who played for the Tennessee Titans. While playing football in college at Florida State, he was named a Rhodes Scholar and afforded the opportunity to study medical anthropology in Oxford, England.
shirley chisholmShirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress. She is the youngest to study abroad of this group: at age three, she moved to Barbados to live with her grandmother and attend private school.
barbara chaseBarbara Chase-Riboud is a world-famous visual artist and multiple award-winning poet. She studied for a year in Italy at the American Academy in Rome after applying for and receiving the John Hay Whitney fellowship.
henry gatesHenry Louis Gates, Jr. is an American literary critic, educator, scholar, and writer. Most notably, he was the first African-American to receive the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, which allowed him to pursue his doctorate degree in English literature in Cambridge…
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