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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 ...

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Sharon Carson

Although she spent most of her adult life living in France and touring the world, Josephine Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri. After a difficult childhood, she left home at thirteen, starting her dance career with a vaudeville troupe called the Dixie Steppers. In the early 1920s, she worked in African American theater productions in New York such as Shuffle Along and Chocolate Dandies. In 1925 Baker left for Paris to begin her long international career with companies like Revue Nègre, Folies Bergères, and, later, the Ziegfeld Follies.

As her career evolved, Baker increasingly focused on political concerns. During World War II Baker toured North Africa while providing information to French and British intelligence. Later she used her considerable fame to advance civil rights issues during her frequent visits to the United States. In 1951 the NAACP honored her political work by declaring an official Baker Day ...

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Jeremy Rich

was born in Tunis, Tunisia. She came from a very prosperous family that opposed continued French colonial rule in the early 1950s. She took pride in the liberal politics of her family and she later noted in the 1990s how her grandfather had encouraged his children to stop wearing the veil (hijab) worn by many Muslim women in the 1930s. Béji was the niece of Wassila Ben ‘Ammar, the second spouse of nationalist and first Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba. She attended primary schools in Tunis, and completed her graduate study at the well-respected Carnot secondary school there. After Béji passed her baccalaureate examination, she entered Université de Paris I La Sorbonne, and completed her doctorate there in 1973 Béji returned to Tunisia where she taught literature at the University of Tunis She began to gain renown in the early 1980s Her long study of the authoritarian state and society ...

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Richard A. Bradshaw

pan-African political activist and author who worked with several African heads of state during the decolonization era, was born in the village of Bessou, near Fort de Possel (present-day Possel), in the French colony of Ubangi-Shari (present-day Central African Republic, CAR) on 16 December 1921. Her father, Pierre Gerbillat, was a French businessman from Lyon. Her mother, Joséphine Wouassimba, was the daughter of Gbanziri chief Zoumague of Kuango. Her father paid bridewealth to marry Zoumague’s daughter, but he then married a Belgian woman, after which Andrée, like many young métisse or Euro African mixed blood girls at that time was sent away to be raised and educated by nuns of the Order of St Joseph of Cluny in the Republic of the Congo Brazzaville where she was registered as number twenty two For the next fourteen years Andrée s education and upbringing was supervised by extremely strict and ...

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Jason Miller

poet and community activist. Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, to David Anderson Brooks, a janitor, and Keziah Wims Brooks, a former schoolteacher. The house in Kansas belonged to Brooks's grandmother, and soon the family moved to their home in Chicago, Illinois, where Gwendolyn grew up in the city's South Side with her parents and younger brother, Raymond. For most of her life she remained associated with the South Side. Brooks attended Forrestville Elementary School, and it was during these earliest years of her education that her mother began to encourage in her an interest in poetry and verse recital.

Brooks attended Hyde Park High School for a time but later transferred from that mostly white school first to an all black school and later to an integrated one Though her home life afforded her some stability and happiness Brooks was keenly aware of the ...

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Jennifer Jensen Wallach

activist and writer who popularized the “Black Power” slogan in the 1960s. A native of Trinidad, Carmichael, later known as Kwame Ture, immigrated to the United States at the age of eleven to join his parents, who had migrated several years earlier. Even as a child he demonstrated an interest in politics, and the socialist activist Bayard Rustin was one of his earliest role models.

A gifted student, Carmichael attended the Bronx High School of Science, graduating in 1960. Although he was offered admission to a number of colleges and universities, his growing racial consciousness led him to the historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C. He received his bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1964.

While a student he became involved in the civil rights movement participating initially in demonstrations organized by the Nonviolent Action Group NAG an organization devoted to challenging segregation in the vicinity of Washington ...

Article

Alice Drum

writer, professor, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John Cary, a junior high school science teacher, and Carole Hamilton, a one time hairdresser and elementary school special education teacher. Cary's mother took an active role in guiding her early education in public schools in the Philadelphia suburbs. In 1972 in a move that had tremendous significance personally and academically for the young teenager Cary with her mother s encouragement entered the prestigious St Paul s Preparatory School in New Hampshire Historically an all male all white institution St Paul s in the 1970s was actively seeking to change its elitist image by admitting girls and African Americans Although Cary had eagerly sought admission to St Paul s her experiences there were mixed While she was successful academically and socially she often felt isolated never entirely a part of St Paul s established world ...

Article

veteran of the strike of 1954, and leader of the Black pride movement in Honduras, also known as Santos Centeno García, was born on 3 February 1933 in Trujillo in the Colón department. His mother was Juana Ruperta García Castro, a Garifuna, born in Trujillo and a housewife, and his father was Santos Pio Centeno Velázquez, a Garifuna, born in Sangrelaya and a worker at the Standard Fruit Company. He married María Cruz Gotay Mejia, with whom he fathered eight children.

Garifuna people or Black Caribs are the result of the encounter between fugitive African slaves who arrived to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with the wreck of two Spanish ships in 1635, Maroons, fugitive African slaves from neighboring islands, local Indian Arawaks, and Caribs. In 1976 a revolt took place in Saint Vincent promoted by Victor Hughes a radical French colonial administrator and controlled by British ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

writer and educator, was born in Petersburg, Virginia, to parents about whom little is known but who were only briefly married before Harold's father took his young son to New York City during the black migration to the North. The elder Cruse found work as a custodian with the Long Island Railroad; however, he soon realized the he could not care for a small child alone and placed Harold with a foster family in Queens. During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s his foster mother, Aunt Henrietta, instilled a love for the black theater in the young Harold, frequently taking him to performances. With the coming of the Depression the family lost their home and was forced to move into an apartment in Harlem, where Cruse became more deeply immersed in black culture. There he would witness performances by Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Bill Robinson, and Florence ...

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 ...

Article

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was the most well-known African American of the nineteenth century. His legacy as an antislavery and human rights activist persists well into the twenty-first century. During his lifetime, Douglass embodied the famed self-made man. Beginning his life at the very bottom of American society, Douglass became a celebrated abolitionist and humanitarian, a somewhat less successful bank president, and a Republican politician. Although his antebellum era activities are the most well known, after 1865 Douglass held office as marshal and later recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia. In 1889 he became the second African American appointed as U.S. minister to Haiti. Because he was an eloquent writer and orator, he gained much public attention during his lifetime and provided subsequent generations with a chance to better know and understand him.

Born on a Talbot County, Maryland, plantation in February 1818 Douglass spent his ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

author, composer, and activist. When Shirley Graham Du Bois was thirteen years old she met the prominent scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois. The meeting had a profound impact on her political and personal development, for she eventually married Du Bois in 1951. She became well known as W. E. B. Du Bois's second wife, causing some to overlook her tremendous personal accomplishments.

Shirley Graham was born near Evansville, Indiana, to David Graham and Etta Graham. Her father was an African Methodist Episcopal minister, a career that caused him to move his family to various locations in the United States, including Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and Nashville. At his churches Shirley first discovered a love for music, learning to play the organ and piano. She completed high school in Spokane, Washington, and then moved to Seattle, where she married Shadrack T. McCants ...

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

Ula Y. Taylor

Garvey, Amy Euphemia Jacques (31 December 1896–25 July 1973), journalist, Pan-Africanist, and the second wife of black nationalist Marcus Garvey, journalist, Pan-Africanist, and the second wife of black nationalist Marcus Garvey was born in Kingston Jamaica the daughter of George Samuel Jacques a property owner and Charlotte maiden name unknown Amy Jacques s family was rooted in the Jamaican middle class thus she was formally educated at Wolmer s Girls School an elite institution in Jamaica As a young woman she suffered from ailing health due to recurring bouts with malaria In need of a cooler climate she emigrated to the United States in 1917 and settled in New York City where she had relatives After hearing contradictory reports about the Universal Negro Improvement Association UNIA recently founded by Garvey she attended a meeting in Harlem She was intrigued by the organization and in 1918 became ...

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Robert L. Gale

Graham, Shirley (11 November 1896–27 March 1977), musical composer and director, author, and political activist also known as Shirley Graham Du Bois was born Lola Bell Graham in Indianapolis Indiana the daughter of the Reverend David A Graham an African Methodist Episcopal minister and Etta Bell She accompanied them when her father held pastorates in New Orleans Colorado Springs and Spokane He delighted her with stories about important blacks in American history In his churches she learned to play the piano and the pipe organ and to conduct choirs In 1914 she graduated from high school in Spokane took business school courses and worked in government offices in Spokane and Seattle After she married Shadrach T McCanns in 1921 she gave private music lessons and played the organ in white movie theaters hidden backstage She had two sons Robert and David and was either widowed in 1924 ...

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Efraim Barak

Egyptian intellectual, writer, reformer, and lecturer of philosophy, was born in Cairo on 13 February 1935. His father was a professional musician. In the early 1950s, he joined the Muslim Brothers and was active in student politics at the University of Cairo, where he studied philosophy. In 1956, after earning his BA, he moved to Paris, where he continued his studies at the Sorbonne. In 1966, after receiving his PhD in philosophy, he returned to Cairo where, after a year, he began teaching at the local university. At the same time, he translated into Arabic some of the works of Western philosophers, such as Spinoza, Lessing, and Sartre, and published several articles in the journals al-Katib (The Writer) and al-Fikr al-Muʿasi (Modern Thought).

From 1971 to 1975, Hanafi worked as an external lecturer at Temple University in Philadelphia. From 1979 to 1980 he supervised the ...

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Eleanor Hinton Hoytt

Widely recognized and honored as one of the great civil rights and women’s rights leaders of contemporary history, Dorothy Irene Height spent decades inspiring and leading countless organizations in the struggle for equality and human rights for all people. To mark her ninety-second birthday on 24 March 2004, Dorothy Irene Height was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush. The ceremony in the Capital Rotunda in Washington was to honor her lifetime of achievements and service to the country as one of the preeminent social justice and civil rights activists of her time.

In her memoir, Open Wide the Freedom Gates, Height chronicles her life and work for justice, equality, and opportunity for women and black families. In it, she recounts her close relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary McLeod Bethune, as well as her encounters with W. E. B. Du Bois ...