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S. Allen Counter

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Information about S. Allen Counter

Profile image of S. Allen Counter

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Educator
Neurophysiologist
African Diaspora Ethnographer

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Birthplace

Born:
7/8/1954
Birth Location:
Americus, Georgia

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Educator
Neurophysiologist
African Diaspora Ethnographer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/8/1954
Birth Location:
Americus
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Biography

Educator, African diaspora ethnographer, and neurophysiologist S. Allen Counter, Jr. was born on July 8, 1954 to Samuel Counter, Sr. and Ann Johnson Counter. Counter graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1972, and went on to earn his B.S. degree in biology and audiological sciences from Tennessee State University in 1976. After earning his his Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in 1979, and completing his postgraduate studies in neurobiology at Harvard University, Counter was appointed to the faculty of the biology department at Harvard.

Counter was promoted to the position of associate professor of biology, and in 1981 was appointed professor of neurology at the Harvard Medical School. Counter then earned his Doctor of Medical Science degree from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden in 1989. As a neurophysiologist, Counter conducted research on nerve and muscle physiology, auditory physiology and neurophysiological diagnosis of brain injuries in children and adults. Counter's scientific research also focused on the neurobiological effects of lead and mercury exposure, magnetic resonance imaging of the inner ear, balancing systems and multiple sclerosis.

Counter also pursued his secondary academic interest, African American ethnography, during the 1970s. He conducted ethnographic studies among the indigenous people of Surinam, South America. Counter's research resulted in a series of major articles, which appeared in national and international periodicals and an award-winning documentary on the culture and history of the African rain forest people entitled, "I Shall Moulder Before I Shall Be Taken."

While conducting research in Greenland in 1986, Counter met the eighty-year-old Inuit sons of the North Pole co-discoverers, Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary and Matthew Henson. Counter organized and raised the funds to bring Anaukaq Henson, Kali Peary and their families to the United States to meet their American relatives in 1987. Counter sought proper recognition for Henson’s contributions to Arctic exploration and co-discovery of the North Pole in 1909, and his work led to Henson’s body being moved from his grave in the Bronx, New York, to the Arlington National Cemetery, and the U.S. Navy commissioning a U.S.N.S. oceanographic explorer ship named in Henson's honor.

In 1993, Counter initiated research studies in the interior of Ecuador, South America, where he discovered a unique group of African descendants living high in the Andes; he later produced a documentary film on these descendants of eighteenth century slaves entitled, "Lost Africans in the Andes." From 1993 to 2000, Counter led medical teams into the Ecuadorian mountains to study health problems and provide medical services; he also conducted research to reduce the severe lead and mercury poisoning found amongst the children working in the ceramics glazing industry and gold mining areas of Ecuador.

In 1980, Counter served as the founding director of The Harvard Foundation. In addition to his professional activities, Counter lectured in classrooms and on television programs to increase scientific literacy among young people.

Counter passed away on July 12, 2017.

S. Allen Counter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 8, 2005.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of S. Allen Counter's interview.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - S. Allen Counter talks about his mother and father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - S. Allen Counter talks about his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - S. Allen Counter talks about his siblings and his mother's side of the family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - S. Allen Counter talks about his mother and maternal family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - S. Allen Counter talks about his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - S. Allen Counter shares advice from his family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - S. Allen Counter describes his childhood experiences with people from other cultures
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - S. Allen Counter discusses his paternal grandfather's religious background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - S. Allen Counter recounts his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - S. Allen Counter talks about his elementary school years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - S. Allen Counter talks about his first participation in a civil rights protest
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - S. Allen Counter describes family life in his childhood community
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - S. Allen Counter recalls swimming in the Florida Everglades as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - S. Allen Counter shares the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - S. Allen Counter recalls his elementary school years, part 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - S. Allen Counter recalls his elementary school years, part 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - S. Allen Counter talks about his early interest in science
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - S. Allen Counter discusses the difference in resources between black and white schools
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - S. Allen Counter talks about his interests and influences during college at Tennessee A&I State University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - S. Allen Counter discusses the origins of black colleges and universities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - S. Allen Counter recounts influential people in his higher education experience
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - S. Allen Counter talks about his Ph.D. research at Case Western Reserve University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - S. Allen Counter describes his post doctoral experience at Harvard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - S. Allen Counter describes his research experience in Stockholm, Sweden
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - S. Allen Counter discusses his clinical work in the field of neurophysiology
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - S. Allen Counter details his work with lead and mercury poisoning in Ecuador
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - S. Allen Counter recounts his ethnographic expedition to Suriname
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - S. Allen Counter details his ethnographic expedition to the North Pole, part 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - S. Allen Counter details his ethnographic expedition to the North Pole, part 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - S. Allen Counter talks about the culmination of his North Pole expedition
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - S. Allen Counter talks about the Harvard Foundation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - S. Allen Counter describes his position as Counsel General to Sweden
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - S. Allen Counter describes his memorial to African American slaves project
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - S. Allen Counter reflects on his life's accomplishments