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Jessica Falconi

Angolan anthropologist, writer, and political activist, was born Mário de Carvalho Moutinho in Lisbon on 29 September 1932. Portuguese by birth and Angolan by nationality, Henrique Abranches also used the pseudonyms “Mwene Kalungo” and “Mwene Kalungo-Lungo.” In 1947 he and his family left Portugal to settle in Luanda, where he attended the Liceu Salvador Correia, a pioneering institution of secondary education in Angola whose students included several names that were later important in Angolan literature. After five years in Luanda, Abranches moved to the city of Sá de Bandeira (now Lubango) in the Huíla Plateau in southern Angola, where he became interested in the customs and traditions of the people of the region. He returned briefly to Portugal, where he finished secondary school and attended the Society of Fine Arts. He returned to Lubango on his own and began working for the Bank of Angola. In 1952 he ...

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Mark Richardson

Half-way between Maine and Florida, in the heart of the Alleghenies,” wrote W. E. B. Du Bois in John Brown (1909), the year before he helped found the NAACP, “a mighty gateway lifts its head and discloses a scene which, a century and a quarter ago, Thomas Jefferson said was ‘worthy a voyage across the Atlantic.’ ” Whereupon he continues citing Jefferson's words from Notes on the State of Virginia (1785):

You stand on a very high point of land; on your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to find a vent; on your left approaches the Potomac, in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea.

The place is Harpers Ferry Virginia later West Virginia where in ...

Article

Stewart King

was born on 16 December 1753 in Torbec, on the southern peninsula of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). His father, François Boisrond (1711–1772), a mixed-race small planter, married Marie Hérard (1724–1773), from a prominent free colored family from the nearby parish of Aquin, sometime before 1743. Louis François was the tenth of their eleven children. (Louis-François’s surname sometimes appears as Boisrond-Jeune. The cognomen “Jeune” means “the younger,” and it was commonly used to distinguish a person from an older relative with the same name. In this case, we do not know who the older Louis-François Boisrond was; perhaps there was an older brother who died in childhood, or perhaps the intent was to distinguish Louis-François from his father, François.)

François Boisrond, along with other free colored and white planters of the regions, participated in an uprising against obligatory militia service in 1763 he suffered no punishment ...

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Ruramisai Charumbira

Zimbabwean educator, political activist, member of parliament, cabinet minister, and the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) politburo member, was born Victoria Fikile Mahamba-Sithole on 27 March 1928 in Natal South Africa, to an immigrant family from Manicaland, from then Southern Rhodesia. Young Victoria grew up in South Africa and got her secondary education from Adams College, Amanzimtoti, Natal, one of South Africa’s oldest secondary schools for black education. While at Adams College she met another student who would go on be her husband, an illustrious Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesian) nationalist named Herbert Wiltshire Tapfumanei Chitepo. Victoria Chitepo also earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Birmingham, England, and became a teacher and political activist in Natal until about 1955 when she joined her husband in Southern Rhodesia where he had just become the first African barrister From that time on Victoria s life like many wives of ...

Article

Along with Frederick Douglass and Booker Taliaferro Washington, historians consider W. E. B. Du Bois one of the most influential African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Born only six years after emancipation, he was active well into his nineties. Throughout his long life Du Bois remained black America's leading public intellectual, despite near-constant criticism for his often contradictory social and political opinions—he was accused, at various times, of elitism, Communism, and black separatism.

Born in the small western Massachusetts town of Great Barrington, Du Bois and his mother—his father had left the family when he was young—were among the few African American residents. Of his heritage, Du Bois wrote that it included “a flood of Negro blood, a strain of French, a bit of Dutch, but, Thank God! No ‘Anglo-Saxon.’” After an integrated grammar-school education, Du Bois attended the historically black Fisk University ...

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Gerald Horne

American social scientist, author, educator, civil rights leader, and Pan-Africanist, was born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois on 23 February 1868 to Alfred Du Bois and Mary Silvina Burghardt Du Bois, in the predominantly white hamlet of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. William’s maternal great-great-grandfather, Tom Burghardt, born in West Africa in the early 1730s, was captured and brought to America by Dutch slavers. Du Bois would later recall hearing in his childhood a West African song that was perhaps of Senegambian Wolof origin.

Du Bois had a fondness for his New England birthplace and by his own account had a relatively charmed childhood An only child abandoned by his father whom he did not remember his doting mother and relatives and supportive teachers muted the pangs of racism sharpened by Reconstruction These heady years permeated the nation not just the South Hence his early years were shaped by genteel poverty Victorian ...

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David Levering Lewis

Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, W. E. B. Du Bois earned undergraduate degrees at Fisk University (1885) and Harvard (1890), and a doctorate in history from Harvard in 1895. Du Bois taught history and economics at Atlanta University in 1897–1910 and 1934–44. From 1910 to 1934, he served as founding editor of the Crisis, the official organ of the new National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

When his most influential book, The Souls of Black Folk, was published in 1903, Du Bois became the premier architect of the civil rights movement in the United States and among the first thinkers to grasp the international implications of the struggle for racial justice. The problem of the twentieth century, he wrote then, was the problem of the “color‐line.”

Du Bois s legacy is complex A severe critic of racial ...

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Thomas C. Holt

scholar, writer, editor, and civil rights pioneer, was born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the son of Mary Silvina Burghardt, a domestic worker, and Alfred Du Bois a barber and itinerant laborer In later life Du Bois made a close study of his family origins weaving them rhetorically and conceptually if not always accurately into almost everything he wrote Born in Haiti and descended from mixed race Bahamian slaves Alfred Du Bois enlisted during the Civil War as a private in a New York regiment of the Union army but appears to have deserted shortly afterward He also deserted the family less than two years after his son s birth leaving him to be reared by his mother and the extended Burghardt kin Long resident in New England the Burghardts descended from a freedman of Dutch slave origin who had ...

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Jody Benjamin

Having embraced a notion of transnational racial solidarity early in his career, W. E. B. Du Bois continued to elaborate and promote his ideas of “Pan-Africanism,” as both a scholar and a political activist, with increasing urgency throughout his life, culminating with his emigration from the United States to Ghana, where he died a few years after that country won its political independence from Great Britain.

The notion of “Negro race” as a conceptual and political unit has roots in Enlightenment-era views of race as an essential marker of human difference. It was also shaped by both the discourses of nineteenth-century movements to abolish slavery in the United States and those of nationalism in Europe. Du Bois was exposed to this thinking throughout his education, beginning at Fisk University in 1885, where some of his teachers had been abolitionists.

Continuing his education at Harvard University Du Bois was taught ...

Article

William Jordan

(1868–1963), African-American scholar, polemicist, activist, and intellectual. Born and reared in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois graduated from Fisk University in 1888. Enrolling as a junior at Harvard, he remained to earn a Ph.D. in history in 1895, with two years of study (1892–1894) at the University of Berlin. In 1896, Harvard published his dissertation on the suppression of the African slave trade. That same year, during a brief teaching stint at Wilberforce University in Ohio, he married a student, Nina Gomer; they had two children. A fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania (1896–1897) resulted in a pathbreaking sociological study, The Philadelphia Negro (1899). From 1897 to 1910, he taught sociology at Atlanta University.

At this time, most southern blacks could not vote and faced racial segregation in public facilities; scores were lynched each year. Before 1900 ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Bernie Grant was a controversial parliamentarian, more at home with grassroots organization and black radicalism than with establishment politics in the House of Commons. Described as “a leader walking the rope between street heroism and government office,” Grant defended his black constituents and articulated their views.

Grant grew up in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, where he attended a Jesuit school. In 1963 he and his parents, Eric and Lily Grant, moved to Great Britain, where Bernie attended Tottenham Technical College and then studied mining engineering at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. He left the university because of racist policies that refused to admit blacks into a program of study in mining in South Africa. He worked as a railway clerk and a postal employee until he became a trade union official.

During the 1970s Grant led a campaign against the National Front a white supremacist organization active ...

Article

Richard Watts

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to upper-middle-class mixed-race parents, Roumain attended excellent schools in both Haiti and Europe, where he acquired remarkable language skills (he spoke English, German, and Spanish, in addition to French and Creole) and a profound understanding of European cultures. At a young age, he rejected his parents' cosmopolitanism, returning to Haiti from Paris in 1927 to help found La Revue Indigène. This journal, which was instrumental in the development of a specifically Haitian literary aesthetic rooted in traditional peasant life, published many of Roumain's early poems. Roumain wrote prodigiously and fearlessly during this period, publishing two collections of novellas in 1931 (La Proie et l'ombre and Les Fantoches) that denounced the greed of Haiti's ruling class.

In 1934 Roumain was elected secretary-general of the Haitian Communist Party, which he had helped establish. That same year, Haitian president Sténio Vincent alarmed by the forceful ...

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Kathleen Sheldon

political activist in Angola, and leader of the Organização Mulher Angolana (OMA; Angolan Women’s Organization), was born in the village of Bengo, just north of Luanda. Van-Dúnem has been involved in politics her entire life. Her father, Guilherme Pereira Inglês, was a Methodist minister who encouraged her education, and enrolled her in classes in Luanda when she was a child. He was tortured and killed by the Portuguese colonial regime in 1961. Her mother died soon after that, and Van-Dúnem left with her two older sisters and joined the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA; People’s Liberation Movement of Angola) when she was just thirteen years old; two younger brothers also accompanied them. She lost several family members during the armed struggle, including one sister who died in 1963 and one brother who was killed in 1968.

Van-Dúnem spent 1964 to 1967 in Kinshasa in the ...