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Ghirmai Negash

Eritrean Tigrinya-language writer, historian, translator, linguist, and professor of African languages, was born and grew up in Yeha, an ancient historical village in Tigray, the northernmost Ethiopian province bordering Eritrea. Yeha is remarkable for its unique and early archaeological sites, as well as for its proximity to and historical connections with the well-known city of Axum, which formed the center of the Axumite kingdom during the reign of the Queen of Sheba, and still remains Ethiopia’s oldest cultural center. Giyorgis is considered one of Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s most important intellectuals; he lived and wrote during the Italian colonial era in Eritrea. He is considered by many the true founder of secular, modern African literature in Tigrinya.

The consciousness of precolonial history evident in Yeha had a lasting influence on Giyorgis s imagination affecting everything he wrote from literature to history Another important influence on Giyorgis s formation as a native ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

linguist and scholar, was born John Hamilton McWhorter V in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father was John McWhorter IV, a university administrator. His mother was a college professor, and so McWhorter's world was one of learning and educational attainment. He attended Friends Select School, a small Quaker K-12 school in Philadelphia, and was a precocious student who often felt himself more intelligent than his teachers and who reportedly began teaching himself Hebrew when he was still just a young child.

McWhorter's academic skill led him to be invited to attend the Bard College at Simon's Rock, a preparatory college for especially gifted young people in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He was in the tenth grade when he enrolled, and he graduated with honors and an associate's degree. He then matriculated at Rutgers, from which he graduated in 1985 with a B A in French and Romance Languages He removed ...

Article

Katharine Rodier

poet and translator, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Melvin M. Nelson, a Tuskegee Airman and serviceman in the U.S. Air Force, and Johnnie Mitchell, a teacher. Moving frequently because of her father's career, she attended school in several states and began composing poetry while still in grade school. After earning a BA in English in 1968 from the University of California, Davis, she earned an MA in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970, serving as a lay associate at Cornell University's Lutheran Campus Ministry between 1969 and 1970. Also in 1970 Nelson married Erdmann F. Waniek and subsequently began teaching English in Oregon at Lane Community College and at Reed College. The next year she taught at Nørre Nissum Seminarium in Denmark, and in 1973 she became an assistant professor of English at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. In 1978 ...

Article

Bethany K. Dumas

linguistics professor, was born in Georgetown, Guyana, the youngest of the ten children of Eula (nee Wade), a homemaker, and Russell Howell Rickford, an accountant and auditor. In 1968 he began studying in California on a U.S. scholarship at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC). He worked closely with anthropology Professor Roger Keesing and Professor J. Herman Blake, an African American sociologist who was working on the biography of Huey Newton (whom Rickford later met). It was through a program of Blake's that Rickford first went out to Daufuskie Island, one of the South Carolina Sea Islands, in 1970, an experience that he described as “life/career changing in many ways” (personal interview with subject, 2007).

Rickford once said that as a mixed race person his black consciousness and identity crystallized when he came to the United States He was elected president of the ...

Article

Mathias Hanses

Howard University professor of five decades, international authority on blacks in the ancient Mediterranean, and “dean” of African American classicists, was born in York County, Virginia, the son of Alice (née Phillips) and Frank Martin Snowden Sr., a War Department employee. The transatlantic turmoil of the 1910s swept the Snowdens from the rural South to Boston, Massachusetts. In 1917, the year the United States entered World War I, they joined increasing numbers of southern blacks who migrated to the brimming industrial centers of the North as military production needs peaked. For the Snowdens, at least, the move to New England was a success. Later in life, Frank Junior did not recall experiencing any discrimination as he grew up in racially diverse Roxbury, Massachusetts.

In 1922 Frank passed the entrance examination to the highly selective Boston Latin School The institution rigorously discarded those whose performance was considered subpar ...

Article

Muniz Sodré was born Muniz Sodré de Araújo Cabral in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Sodré's grandmother was a member of the Tupinambá indigenous tribe that lived in the recôncavo region of the state of Bahia. His grandfather was a Nagô (or Yoruba) African who came from what the Portuguese called the Mina Coast (at that time the Kingdom of Dahomey, now Benin) in West Africa. Sodré graduated from the city of Salvador's Universidade Federal da Bahia in 1964. While studying law there, he also worked as a journalist for the Jornal da Bahia newspaper.

Sodré moved to Rio De Janeiro to develop his career as a journalist but in 1964 a military dictatorship was established in Brazil, so he left for France. At Sorbonne University in Paris, he studied sociology of information until 1968 Returning to Brazil Sodré wrote for several newspapers and magazines ...