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Todd Steven Burroughs

radical prison journalist and author. Mumia Abu-Jamal was born Wesley Cook in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a teenager in the 1960s he was attracted to the Black Panther Party (BPP). Cook—christened “Mumia” by one of his high school teachers—helped form the BPP's Philadelphia chapter in spring 1969 and became the chapter's lieutenant of information. He wrote articles for the Black Panther, the party's national newspaper, and traveled to several cities to perform BPP work. He left the party in the fall of 1970 because of the split between Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton.

After attending Goddard College in Plainfield Vermont Cook now calling himself Mumia Abu Jamal the surname is Arabic for father of Jamal Jamal being his firstborn returned to Philadelphia and began a radio broadcasting career in the early 1970s Abu Jamal was part of the first generation of black journalists to become professional newscasters for ...

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Charles Orson Cook

one of the most prolific white scholars of African American history in the twentieth century. Herbert Aptheker was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915 and was educated at Columbia University in the 1930s, where he took an undergraduate degree in geology and an MA and a PhD in history. His first important publication, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), was based on his doctoral dissertation and challenged the prevailing wisdom that slaves were largely passive victims of white masters. In part an outgrowth of Aptheker's master's thesis on Nat Turner, American Negro Slave Revolts immediately became a controversial work and has remained so since. He was befriended by the influential African American historian Carter G. Woodson and the legendary black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, both of whom encouraged his interest in Negro history. Aptheker's other writings include a seven-volume Documentary History of the Negro People ...

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McKay Jenkins

tennis player, author, and political activist, was born Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Arthur Ashe Sr., a police officer, and Mattie Cunningham. Tall and slim as a young boy, Ashe was forbidden by his father to play football; he took up tennis instead on the segregated playground courts at Brookfield Park, near his home. By the time he was ten years old he came under the tutelage of a local tennis fan and physician from Lynchburg, R. Walter Johnson. Johnson had previously nurtured the talents of Althea Gibson, who became the first African American to win Wimbledon, in 1957 and 1958, and his second protégé would prove no less successful. Johnson was an exacting coach he had his charges practice hitting tennis balls with broom handles to develop their hand eye coordination But his lessons extended beyond tennis he also ...

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Alonford James Robinson

Arthur Ashe was born July 10, 1943, in Richmond, Virginia, to Mattie and Arthur Robert Ashe Sr. He began playing Tennis at the age of ten under the guidance of Dr. Walter Johnson, a prominent coach of African American youth from Lynchburg, Virginia. With Johnson's coaching, Ashe won three American Tennis Association (ATA) boy's championships, becoming the first African American junior to be ranked by the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA).

Between 1960 and 1963 Ashe won three ATA men's singles titles, became the first African American on the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team, and the first African American to win a USLTA national title in the South. His achievements earned him a full scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles, where he attended from 1961 to 1966 earning a bachelor s degree in business administration While in college Ashe won the U ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

Best known for his weekly Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television show Tony Brown's Journal, Tony Brown has become a controversial figure in the landscape of American race relations. Although once active in the Civil Rights Movement, he has criticized present-day black activists for prioritizing civil rights at the expense of black business initiatives and education programs in computer technologies. He advocates black economic self-sufficiency and has consistently opposed welfare as well as Affirmative Action policies that he believes mainly benefit middle-class blacks. “If America were capitalist,” said Brown in an interview with Matthew Robinson of Business Daily, “it could not be racist. Racism is flourishing because we are awash in socialistic controls.”

Born in Charleston, West Virginia, Brown was reared by two domestic workers, Elizabeth Sanford and Mabel Holmes who informally adopted him at the age of two months after his father deserted the family ...

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Patit Paban Mishra

academician, businessperson, author, talk-show host, and journalist. The fifth son of Royal Brown and Katherine Davis Brown, William Anthony Brown was born in Charleston, West Virginia. The marriage of his parents broke down in the racist environment of Charleston. His father was a light-skinned person, whereas his mother was of dark color. For several years he was raised by a foster family, Elizabeth Sanford and Mabel Holmes, before he was reunited with his mother and three siblings. Brown had a turbulent childhood, but by sheer determination, perseverance, and hard work along with the support of his foster parents and several school teachers, he rose in life—primarily through education. After high school he attended Wayne State University in Detroit, where he earned a BA in sociology (1959) and an MSW in psychiatric social work (1961).

After graduation Brown obtained a ...

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Maxwell Akansina Aziabah

Ghanaian prime minister and sociologist, was born in Wenchi in the British Gold Coast colony on 11 July 1913. His mother was Nana Yaa Nsowaa, a prominent member of the royal Safoase Yefre matrilineage of Wenchi, and his father was Yaw Bosea. His mother later remarried, not long after Kofi was born. It is believed that Busia grew up under the tutelage of his stepfather, Kwabena Janso, since his biological father had little to do with him. At age six he was baptized Joseph Busia, a misspelling of his biological father’s surname that he would retain throughout his career.

As a boy Busia developed a keen interest in religious studies, which was bolstered by his contact with Wesleyan Methodist missionaries, notably the Reverend William Whittle and his wife Alice Whittle, a teacher. Busia impressed the Whittles, who encouraged his academic interests. In 1922 the Whittles brought Busia with ...

Article

Brittney L. Yancy

activist, philosopher, Marxist, and professor. Angela Davis was born 26 January 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama, in an area that was so frequently bombed by the Ku Klux Klan it was known as Dynamite Hill. Born to B. Frank Davis, a teacher and businessman, and Sally Davis, who was also a teacher, Angela Davis's political activism started in her early childhood, and by high school, she volunteered for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). At the age of fifteen, Davis received a scholarship to finish school at the Elizabeth Irwin School in New York City. Davis's teacher introduced her to socialist ideas that would inform her political participation in the civil rights and Black Power movements. When Davis finished high school in 1961, she moved to Massachusetts to attend Brandeis University, where she graduated in 1965 with degrees in philosophy and French ...

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Cheikh Anta Diop is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the twentieth century. A central figure in African-centered scholarship, his intellectual range and work spanned many disciplines. At the 1966 World Festival of the Arts in Dakar, Senegal, Diop shared with the late W. E. B. Du Bois an award as the writer who had exerted the greatest influence on black thought. He is most known for his work to reaffirm the African character of ancient Egypt through scientific study and to encourage African scholars to use ancient Egypt as a source of valuable paradigms to enrich contemporary African life and contribute to new ways of understanding and improving the world.

Cheikh Anta Diop was born in Diourbel Senegal a town that has a long tradition of Muslim scholarship and learning fostered by the Mouride Brotherhood He began his education at the age of four in ...

Article

Jon-Christian Suggs and Dale Edwyna Smith

[This article contains three subentries, on Du Bois's life, on his historical writing, and on his literary writing.]

Article

Kimani Njogu

Kenyan writer, publisher, political activist, and supporter of writing in indigenous languages, epitomizes the history of struggle against oppression in Kenya. As a young man, he started engaging the British at Alliance High School, and was subsequently expelled. Later in his life, he was very active in generating, publishing, and distributing popular anticolonial songs. Some of those songs featured prominently in the trial of Jomo Kenyatta at the Kapenguria courts. In 1940 during World War II, he joined the colonial army as a clerical officer, and on returning to Kenya in 1946, he teamed up with friends to found African Book Writers Ltd. He published Uhoro wa Ugurani (On Marriage), a fictional work on how returning soldiers were reshaping the institution of marriage, because they had more money than those who had remained behind. In 1948 he published a political booklet written in Kiswahili, Roho ya Kiume na Bidii ...

Article

Gregory Mann

Malian political activist, women’s leader, and author, was born in Bamako, in the French colony of Soudan (now Mali) on 12 July 12 1912. An alternate form of her name is Awa Keita. Her father Karamogo Kéita, a Malinké veteran of the World War I from Guinea, worked for the colonial hygiene service. Her mother Mariam Coulibaly, a Dioula from Ivory Coast, gave her a strong traditional education. Unusually for a girl of her generation, Aoua Kéita was enrolled in Bamako’s newly established école de filles (school for girls) in 1923 by her father and against the wishes of her mother. In 1928 she graduated from Bamako’s foyer de métisses, a boarding school for mixed race girls that a small number of Africans were permitted to attend She then won admission to the École de Médecine de Dakar at that time the capital of the federation of French ...

Article

South African politician, writer, long-term political prisoner, and father of President Thabo Mbeki, was born in Nqamakwe in the Transkei on 8 July 1910. His father Skelewu Mbeki and mother Johanna were devout Methodists, members of a modestly well-to-do Mfengu elite. Govan’s father was a government-appointed headman; he also farmed and ran an ox-wagon transport business.

In 1932 Mbeki left Healdtown school to attend Fort Hare (then the only university in southern Africa admitting African students) where he completed his schooling, attaining a teaching diploma and a bachelor’s degree. The Fort Hare years shaped Mbeki profoundly: they politicized him deeply, and equipped him with the formal skills that fueled his output as journalist and author.

Mbeki’s socialist beliefs were kindled by two men, Eddie Roux, a Communist Party member, whom Mbeki met in 1933; and Max Yergan, an African American on the Fort Hare faculty, radicalized by a 1934 ...

Article

Valerie Orlando

Martinican artist and Négritude activist, was born in Martinique. She was one of seven daughters in the accomplished Nardal family, prominent members of the bourgeois class of Martinique. Her father, Paul Nardal, was the first black Martinican to receive a scholarship to study in Paris. He later became an engineer and worked as a manager in the Department of Highways and Bridges in Martinique. Her mother, Louise Achille, was an accomplished pianist. Of the seven sisters, Paulette, Jane, and Andrée are best known for their literary contributions and intellectual devotion to arts and letters in Paris during the interwar period (1920–1939).

In the 1920s Jane and her older sister Paulette left home to study in Paris They were the first Martinican women to study at the Sorbonne Both Jane and Paulette contributed to the intellectual activity and discourse cultivated in their salon in Clamart sur Seine just outside Paris The ...

Article

Valerie Orlando

Martinican artist and Négritude organizer, was born on 12 October 1896 in St Pierre Martinique She was one of seven daughters of the accomplished Nardal family prominent members of the bourgeois class of Martinique Her father Paul Nardal was the first black Martinican to receive a scholarship to study in Paris He later became an engineer and worked as manager of the Department of Highways and Bridges in Martinique Her mother Louise Achille was an accomplished pianist In the 1920s Paulette and her sister Jane left home to study in Paris Of the seven sisters Paulette Jane and Andrée are best known for their literary contributions and the founding of a salon dedicated to cultivating sociopolitical and literary discourse in Paris during the interwar period 1920 1939 Paulette and Jane were the first Martinican women to study at the Sorbonne Paulette obtained a degree in English and later worked ...

Article

Ellis Goldberg

Egyptian author, literary critic, and activist who helped shape contemporary political Islam, was born in the Upper Egyptian village of Musha in Asyut province on 9 October 1906. His father, Qutb Ibrahim, was a farmer and member of the nationalist Watani party led by Mustafa Kamil. Qutb attended a state-run primary school, but had also memorized the Qurʾan in its entirety by 1916. Qutb experienced the massive 1919 revolt against British rule as a teenage activist. He left the village in 1921 and lived in the Cairo suburb of Zaytun with his mother’s brother for four years, while attending a high school associated with the modernist educational institution Dar al-ʿUlum (founded 1871). In 1929 he entered Dar al-ʿUlum itself and graduated in 1933.

After graduation Qutb first appeared on the Egyptian intellectual scene as a poet and literary critic He was then thought of as a ...

Article

Eslanda Robeson's father died when she was six, and the family moved from her native Washington, D.C., to New York City. In 1921, she married singer and actor Paul Robeson. Eslanda Robeson received a B.S. in chemistry from Columbia University and, in 1945 a Ph ...

Article

Debra Foster Greene

was born in Montgomery, Alabama to Harry Saunders and Josephine Dibble Murphy. Her father, Harry Saunders Murphy, was educated at the University of Wisconsin. He began his teaching career at Langston University in Oklahoma, then became a member of the faculty of Alabama State Normal College. Murphy left teaching to head up the printing division of the Standard Life Insurance Company. Her mother, Josephine Dibble Murphy was educated at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta Georgia and went on to be an educator, community leader, and activist. Dibble Murphy spent a year as the dean of women at Fort Valley State College before becoming a university hostess at Atlanta University. She held the position of Atlanta University Alumni Association president for twenty-two years. The Murphys had four children—Doris, Sarah, Mabel, and Harry, Jr.

Smythe Haith attended elementary school on the campus of Alabama State Normal College and attended high school at ...