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Mpalive Msiska

Nigerian novelist, was born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe on 15 November 1930 at Saint Simon’s Church, Nneobi, near Ogidi, in British colonial Nigeria. His father, Isaiah Okafo Achebe, was a teacher and evangelist and his mother, Janet Anaenechi Iloeghunam, was from the Awka area of eastern Nigeria. Until the age of five, Achebe was brought up at a church school, where his father taught. When his father went into semiretirement in 1935 in Ogidi, Achebe became a child of two worlds, the modern world and the world of indigenous tradition. He began primary school at Saint Philip’s Central School at Akpakaogwe, Ogidi, moving on to Nekede Central School near Owerri in 1942. Achebe developed into a studious young man, passing entrance examinations for two prestigious secondary schools.

It was at Government College Umuahia which had a good library and extremely able and dedicated teachers that Achebe cultivated his love of ...


David Dabydeen

Africanjournalist and nationalist born in Egypt of Egyptian and Sudanese parentage. At the age of 9 or 10 Ali was sent to England to be educated. He never returned to Egypt and spent most of his time between 1883 and 1921 living in Britain. During this period, he was poverty‐stricken, attempting to earn a living through his pen and tour acting. Ali published Land of the Pharaohs in 1911, an anti‐imperialist book that became a significant contribution to the decolonization efforts in the United States and West Africa.

In 1912Ali and John Eldred Taylor, a journalist from Sierra Leone, inaugurated the African Times and Orient Review (1912–20), a magazine that sought to deal with anti‐colonial issues that not merely embraced Pan‐African matters, but incorporated Pan‐Oriental topics as well. The journal was inspired by the Universal Races Congress in London in 1911 which advocated ...


Wesley Borucki

journalist. Born in Lansing, Michigan, Ray Stannard Baker was the son of Joseph and Alice Stannard Baker. Joseph moved the family to Saint Croix Falls, Wisconsin, in 1875 where he worked as a real estate and utility agent. Ray dabbled in literary, agricultural, and scientific studies at Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) before turning his attention to the law. He studied at the University of Michigan Law School for only one semester, however, before becoming interested in prose writing. In 1893 he became a reporter for the Chicago Record newspaper. When the Panic of 1893 gripped Chicago, Baker saw levels of poverty, unemployment, and unrest beyond what he had ever seen before, and he was drawn to the experiences of the poor whom he found in soup kitchens, jails, and flophouses. Baker gained further sympathy for the common man when he covered the labor leader Jacob ...


Ralph E. Luker

Barber, Jesse Max (05 July 1878–23 September 1949), African-American journalist, dentist, and civil rights activist, was born in Blackstock, South Carolina, the son of Jesse Max Barber and Susan Crawford, former slaves. Barber studied in public schools for African-American students and at Friendship Institute in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he graduated as valedictorian. In 1901 he completed the normal school course for teachers at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, and afterward entered Virginia Union University in Richmond. There Barber was president of the literary society and edited the University Journal. In 1903 Barber earned an A.B. and spent the summer after graduation as a teacher and traveling agent for an industrial school in Charleston, South Carolina.

By November 1903 however Barber had moved to Atlanta to accept an offer from a white publisher Austin N Jenkins to assist in launching a new literary journal ...


Born in Blackstock, South Carolina, Jesse Barber was the son of former slaves. He trained as a teacher at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. His literary career began as editor of the University Journal at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia.

Immediately after his graduation from Virginia Union in 1903, Barber became managing editor of a new black journal, Voice of the Negro, founded in Atlanta, Georgia in January 1904. While the Voice initially sought a moderate position between accomodationists and activists, Barber made the journal a progressive forum. He was known at the time as a politically aware, radical thinker who sided with his friend, African American writer W. E. B. Du Bois, against black intellectual Booker T. Washington. In addition to Barber, Du Bois, and Washington, other writers for the Voice included Pauline Hopkins, Charles W. Chesnutt, and Paul ...


Ralph E. Luker

journalist, dentist, and civil rights activist, was born in Blackstock, South Carolina, the son of Jesse Max Barber and Susan Crawford, former slaves. Barber studied in public schools for African American students and at Friendship Institute in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he graduated as valedictorian. In 1901 he completed the normal school course for teachers at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, and afterward entered Virginia Union University in Richmond. There Barber was president of the literary society and edited the University Journal. In 1903 Barber earned a bachelor's degree and spent the summer after graduation as a teacher and traveling agent for an industrial school in Charleston, South Carolina.

By November 1903, Barber had moved to Atlanta to accept an offer from a white publisher, Austin N. Jenkins, to assist in launching a new literary journal, the Voice of the Negro ...


Sean Patrick Adams

James Gillespie Birney was born in Danville, Kentucky, to a slaveholding family. He attended Transylvania University in nearby Lexington, Kentucky, and eventually graduated from Princeton University in 1810. After admittance to the bar, Birney returned to Danville to practice law and soon married into an influential Kentucky family. By the time he moved to Madison County, Alabama, in 1818, he already owned several slaves.

Following a brief stint in Alabama's General Assembly and some financial difficulties, Birney relocated to Huntsville, Alabama, to begin a law practice. After selling many of his slaves, he became involved with the colonization movement and supported the idea of restricting the internal slave trade. By 1832 Birney was an active agent for the American Colonization Society and made a lecture circuit around the South supporting the idea of emancipating slaves and transporting them to the new African colony of Liberia He ...


Louis J. Parascandola

one of the earliest black members of the Communist Party and the editor of several key radical periodicals. He was also the founder of the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), a secret paramilitary group that advocated militant black self-defense against oppression.

Cyril Valentine Briggs was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis. A child of mixed race, he was fair-skinned enough that he would later describe himself as the “angry, blond Negro.” Briggs immigrated to the United States in 1905, and soon he became involved in radical politics. Although he had a severe speech impediment that prevented him from speaking on behalf of his causes, he compensated by sharpening his skills as an author. He began working with the Amsterdam News in 1912 While with the newspaper he wrote increasingly militant articles arguing against American involvement in World War I and for establishing an autonomous black nation within the ...


Amber Moulton-Wiseman

journalist and activist, was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, the son of Marian M. Huggins, a woman of color, a plantation worker and Louis E. Briggs, a white native of Trinidad and plantation overseer. From childhood Briggs had a stutter that made verbal communication difficult, but he more than compensated through the power of his pen. Butting heads with colonial school administrators, he was dismissed from two primary schools before settling at Ebenezer Wesleyan on the island of St. Kitts; he graduated from this school in 1904. In his autobiographical writings Briggs indicated that despite its challenges, colonial education shaped his later career by introducing him to radical thinkers like the freethinking agnostic Robert Green Ingersoll. After his graduation Briggs embarked on his lifelong career in journalism by becoming a reporter for the St. Kitts Daily Express and the St. Christopher Advertiser.

Briggs ...


Peter Hudson

Cyril Valentine Briggs was one of the most radical individuals who contributed to the political and cultural foment of the New Negro movement in Harlem, New York, in the first decades of the twentieth century. Born in Nevis in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, Briggs immigrated in 1905 to New York, New York. By the 1910s he had worked for two African American newspapers: the Colored American Review and the Amsterdam News. He wrote an editorial that described the League of Nations as the “League of Thieves.” In 1919 he was forced to resign from the News after the editorial spurred an investigation by the United States Postal Service.

After leaving the Amsterdam News, Briggs committed his time to publication of his journal, the Crusader, which he had founded in 1918. The Crusader s early editorials advocated black self government and ...


Robyn McGee

journalist, radio broadcaster, and founder of Calvin's News Service, was born in Washington,-Arkansas, to Joseph Edward and Hattie Ann (Mitchell). Calvin attended the Rural School in Clow, Arkansas, until the seventh grade. From 1916 to 1920 he attended Shover State Teacher Training College in Arkansas, and from 1920 to 1921 he was enrolled at Townsend Harris Hall, City College in New York City.

In 1922, shortly after leaving City College, Calvin was hired by the labor activist A. Philip Randolph as the associate editor of The Messenger magazine. The Messenger—the third most popular magazine of the Harlem Renaissance, after The Crisis and Opportunity—had been founded in 1917 by Randolph and the economist Chandler Owen to advance the cause of socialism to the black masses. They believed that a socialist society was the only one that would be free from racism. The Messenger contained poetry stories and ...


Christine G. Brown

writer and editor, was born in 1890; his parents’ names and his birthplace are now unknown. Little is known of his early life and education. He married Thelma Johnson, with whom he had one daughter. Carter and his wife lived in New York City at the same address, 409 Edgecombe Avenue, from the 1940s until their deaths.

A devoted New Yorker, Carter was a prolific writer and speaker for civil rights, especially concerning jobs, housing, and public office. A committed member of the National Urban League, on 23 July 1928 he delivered a speech on employment and fair housing issues during Negro Week on the Common. In September of that year he took over the editorship of Opportunity: Journal of Negro Life, the Urban League's in-house magazine, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson stepped down as editor With more than 10 000 subscribers when Carter took over the ...


Marc A. Sennewald

civil rights attorney and university administrator. Julius LeVonne Chambers was born in Mount Gilead, North Carolina, where his father ran a service station. Chambers decided to pursue a career in law after his father was unable to find an attorney to help him collect a debt from a white customer. He went on to earn a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was the first African American editor in chief of the university law review and the top-ranked student in his class. After graduating law school in 1962, Chambers earned his master of laws degree at Columbia University in 1963 and interned on the staff of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In 1964 he opened a law office in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Chambers is best known for his role as the lead attorney in the 1971 Supreme Court case Swann ...


Andre D. Vann

attorney, educator, and author, was born and raised in Mt. Gilead, North Carolina, the third of four children of William, an automobile mechanic, and Matilda Chambers. Growing up in a family that placed a high value on education, the twelve-year-old Chambers set his sights upon becoming a lawyer to address many of the racial inequities and injustices that he experienced coming of age in a segregated black community. Particularly formative was his experience of seeing his father unable to retain a lawyer to represent him to collect a debt owed by a white customer who had received service only to refuse to make payment.

Chambers traveled close to twelve miles to Troy, North Carolina, to attend Peabody High School, where he excelled in athletics, playing football and baseball, and was president of the student government association during his junior and senior years. He graduated from high school in May 1954 ...


Rochell Isaac

educator, nationalist, Pan-Africanist, writer, historian, and poet. Born John Henry Clark to Willie Ella Mays and John Clark, a sharecropper, Clarke changed his name, legalizing Henry to Henrik and adding an “e” to Clark, thereby cementing his admiration of the Scandinavian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The Clark family moved from Union Springs, Alabama, to Columbus, Georgia, when Clarke was four years old. Clarke's mother, a laundrywoman, died of pellagra, a diet deficiency, when Clarke was still very young. With his mother's illness and subsequent death, the Clark family began to feel the effects of poverty.

Though he clearly demonstrated academic ability along with a strong desire to learn and excel Clarke s academic goals encountered much resistance As a teenager Clarke held a number of menial jobs he was a part time student and a part time farmer and worker As a result he ...


Zachery R. Williams

journalist, civil rights lawyer, and political organizer. John P. Davis was born in Washington, D.C., the son of William Henry Davis and Julia Davis. He grew up among Washington's New Negroes and was strongly drawn to the Harlem Renaissance. Davis served a brief stint as the editorial replacement of W. E. B. Du Bois with The Crisis magazine. Along with noted contemporaries such as Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Bennett, Wallace Thurman, Aaron Douglas, and Richard Bruce Nugent, Davis participated in the publication of Fire!!, a single-issue Harlem Renaissance literary magazine geared toward the emerging young Negro artist. Davis became a major spokesman for civil rights and interracial working-class alliances during the 1930s and 1940s.

From 1926 to 1927 Davis attended Harvard University on a fellowship and earned a master s degree in journalism He then went ...


Charles Rosenberg

lawyer, journalist, director of the National Negro Congress, publisher of Our World magazine, was born in Washington, DC, the son of Dr. William Henry Davis and Julia Hubbard Davis, who had moved to the capital in 1899 from Louisville, Kentucky. The elder Davis worked in several occupations; in addition to obtaining a doctorate of Pharmacology from Howard University, he developed a successful business school, became official stenographer for the National Negro Business League, and during World War I served as special assistant to Dr. Emmett Scott, special assistant to the United States secretary of war.

In 1922 the younger Davis graduated from Dunbar High School, in Washington, DC, and entered Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He was selected as editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper The Bates Student in 1925 served as president of the debating fraternity Delta Sigma Rho and represented Bates in an international debate with ...


Jennifer Drake

journalist, poet, playwright, and community arts activist, was born Thomas Covington Dent in New Orleans to Dr. Albert Walter Dent, the president of Dillard University, and Ernestine Jessie Covington Dent, an Oberlin- and Juilliard-educated pianist and a dedicated humanitarian.

Dent pursued his interest in writing and community engagement throughout his formal education. In 1947 he graduated from Gilbert Academy, a college preparatory school for black students in New Orleans. He then matriculated at Morehouse College, where he served as editor in chief of the student newspaper The Maroon Tiger and graduated with a BA in Political Science in 1952. Until 1956 he completed doctoral coursework at Syracuse University's School of International Studies, leaving without completing the degree, and in 1974 he earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Dent also served in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1959.

In an interview ...


Christopher Hogarth

Senegalese intellectual, was born on 10 January 1910 in Saint-Louis, Senegal. Best known as the founder (in 1947) of the literary review and later press Présence Africaine (1949), Diop was a key figure in the movement for the emancipation and recognition of Africa and its cultures.

In his childhood Diop was sent to a qurʾanic school to learn Arabic and the tenets of Islam but was also introduced to Christianity by his maternal aunts As an adult he would be baptized as a Christian in France and given the name Jean After qurʾanic school Diop went to primary school in Dagana and then received his high school education at the Lycée Faidherbe in Saint Louis from which he graduated with a baccalaureate in classics Greek and Latin Since Saint Louis was then among the colonized Senegalese towns considered part of France Diop became a French citizen and ...


Robert Fay

Alioune Diop was born in Saint-Louis, Senegal, whose inhabitants enjoyed automatic French citizenship during the colonial period. He obtained his secondary education at the Lycée Faidherbe in St.-Louis, and then studied in Algeria and at the Sorbonne in Paris. He took a position as professor of classical literature in Paris and represented Senegal in the French senate after World War II (1939–1945). In 1947 Diop founded Présence Africaine, perhaps the most influential intellectual journal of its time on anticolonial and emancipatory culture and politics among Africans and peoples of African descent. With frequent contributions from his friend and associate Léopold Sédar Senghor, Diop’s journal helped foster the Négritude movement, which aimed to promote an African cultural identity and the liberation of the people of Africa and the African diaspora. In 1949 Diop founded Présence Africaine Editions a leading publishing house for African authors Diop ...