Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Shennen Bersani (1961-) Biography - Personal to Mark Burgess Biography - Personal » Albert Black Biography - Encouraged Early To Get An Education, Success In High School Led To College, Became Interested In Sociology

Albert Black - Success In High School Led To College

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School was another important institution in young Albert Black's life. Detroit schools were racially segregated during the 1950s, and, while most of the students were African American at Black's school, almost all of the teachers were white. He did well in school and in sports, where he played football and ran track. In his senior year, he was elected president of his class, president of student council, and president of the citywide student council. Upon graduation he received many awards and was salutatorian of his class, which means that he had the second-highest grade point average.

Even though he did well in high school, Black did not at first consider college a possibility. No one in his family, or even in his neighborhood, had gone to college. However, he received assistance from an African-American doctor whose office was in one of the buildings he helped his father clean every night. Dr. Collins took an interest in Black's education and helped him obtain a scholarship to the University of Michigan.

The University of Michigan is a high-prestige, and at the time, a largely white, university. The level of skill expected from him both in the classroom and on the athletic field came as something of a shock to Black. Unlike his high school experience, he did not do well. He soon dropped out of athletics to focus all of his energies on his academic studies. Even then, he only managed to get average grades in his pre-medical program.

After graduating from Michigan in 1963, Black got married, started his own family, and went to work as a factory foreman at the Ford Motor Company. The dirty, noisy factory work was made even harder by the fact that the workers he supervised were mostly white immigrants from Eastern Europe or the Southern United States, who were not happy to be working for a black boss. He soon left that job and went to work at Children's Hospital as a diener. Diener comes from the German word for servant and means an assistant who helps with autopsies, or medical examinations of dead bodies.

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