Our guest today is Dr. Yvonne Seon. Many do not know she is the mother of the American actor and comedian Dave Chappelle. Many also do not know that in 1960, she worked with Patrice Lumumba while she was only 22 years old. She was the first African American to work with the Congolese government. Listen to the show live today to learn more about why she went to support her brothers and sisters in the heart of Africa.
Dr. Yvonne Seon’s Bio
Born in Washington, DC in December 1937, Dr. Yvonne Seon is a pioneer in African American Studies curriculum development and the first African American woman to be ordained as a Minister in the Unitarian Church. She holds a Master’s degree in Divinity and Ph.D. in African American Studies. One of her sons is the famous comedian & TV star, Dave Chapelle.
Seon earned a B.A. degree with honors from Allegheny College in 1959, and a year later the M.A. degree as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, with honors from American University in American Government and politics.
In the summer of 1960, Seon met Patrice Lumumba, then-Prime Minister of the newly independent Congo (today Democratic Republic of the Congo), on his only visit to the United States. Proficient in French and with a keen interest in Africa, Seon accepted his offer of a job in the new government. She eventually served as Secretary to the High Commission for the Inga Dam Project, the highest Government position open to a non-citizen, equivalent to an Executive Director. The first American hired by the new government, she managed the Commission and helped assure uninterrupted recordings of technical data needed for dam construction.
The mother of three adult offspring, she resides in Hyattsville, Maryland.