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Ralph A. Austen

paramount chief and anticolonial protest leader in present-day Cameroon, was born in Douala, Cameroon, the eldest son of chief Manga Ndumbe Bell (ruled 1897–1908). Duala Manga is best remembered for a struggle against the racist policies of the German rulers of Cameroon, who executed him on 8 August 1914. Beyond this dramatic conclusion to Duala Manga’s life lay a precolonial heritage of international commerce by the Duala people, an embattled but—until its last years— successful adaptation to German rule, and an afterlife as a nationalist and ethnic icon.

Duala Manga was descended from a line of merchant rulers who dominated trade between European Atlantic shippers and the Cameroon hinterland from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries The Duala inhabitants of what eventually became the city of Douala at the estuary of the Wouri River lived in a group of mutually independent settlements of whom the most prominent were ...

Article

Mayda Grano de Oro

Born in poverty in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, to a Haitian father and a mother from the Antilles, Ulíses Heureaux was a principal political and military leader in the Restoration War along with Gregorio Luperón. This conflict, which significantly involved Afro-Dominicans in a fight for their sovereignty and against the reinstitution of slavery for the first time, resulted in Spain's final withdrawal from the Dominican Republic.

Heureaux, who was also known as Lilís, became one of the most important political figures of the nineteenth-century Dominican Republic. He began his political career as the military leader of Gregorio Luperón's Partido Azul (Blue Party), opposing Buenaventura Baez's Partido Rojo (Red Party) during Baez's six-year regime from 1868 to 1874. After this regime the presidency was limited to a two-year term, and between 1876 and 1882 the Blue and Red Parties alternated control of the government ...

Article

Leila Kamali

Newspaper editor, statesman, and Mayor of Kingston, Jamaica. Jordon was born a freeman on 6 December 1800. He founded the Watchman and Jamaica Free Press in Kingston, which printed an editorial in 1832 calling to ‘knock off the fetters, and let the oppressed go free’. Jordon was tried for sedition—a crime that carried the death penalty—but was eventually acquitted.

He campaigned vigorously against slavery and, having won the Kingston seat in the House of Assembly in 1835, saw complete abolition in Jamaica in August 1838. He then founded the Morning Journal, became manager of Kingston Savings Bank, and director of the Planters' Bank.

Jordon was the first appointment to the Executive Committee under Sir Henry Barkly's governorship, and in 1854 the first man to be appointed both Mayor of Kingston and Custos. In 1860Queen Victoria made him a Companion of the Bath the first ...

Article

folk artist, community activist, and Mardi Gras Indian leader, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Alfred Montana, “Big Chief” of the Yellow Pocahontas, a leading Mardi Gras Indian organization, and Alice Herrere Montana, both natives of New Orleans. When he was young, one of his cousins nicknamed him Tootie, and the name stuck. Masking as Mardi Gras Indians ran deep in the Montana family. Tootie was a third-generation black Indian leader. His great-uncle Becate Batiste was the legendary founding Big Chief of the Creole Wild West, the city's first and oldest masking Indian society; his father Alfred Montana was a famous leader of the Yellow Pocahontas, which was an offshoot of the Creole Wild West; but Tootie eventually surpassed both by far in terms of craftsmanship, influence, and fame.

The Mardi Gras Indian culture developed as an expression of black resistance ...

Article

Marveta Ryan

Poverty and racism forced Martín Morúa Delgado, born in Havana, Cuba, to a Spanish immigrant father and an ex-slave mother, to leave school at an early age and find work. He managed to educate himself, often by purchasing books with part of his salary. His experiences working in a barrel factory led him to become a labor activist. Besides organizing workers in several Cuban cities, Morúa made speeches and wrote newspaper and magazine articles on workers' rights, thus launching his career as a political leader and a journalist.

In the nineteenth century, paid readers read books aloud to factory workers while they engaged in nonmechanical tasks like rolling cigars. Even before slavery had been abolished, Morúa was the first man of African descent to become a professional reader in Cuba. He also became the first reader of color in New York, New York when he worked in ...

Article

Raymond Dumett

Ghanian lawyer and anticolonial activist, was born in Britain’s Gold Coast colony (present-day Ghana) on 3 June 1864. He was the eldest son of the prominent Gold Coast merchant John Sarbah and his wife, Sarah. Following in his father’s footsteps John Mensah Sarbah was educated at the Methodist primary school of Cape Coast before entering the newly opened Wesleyan High School (later Mfantsipim School) in 1876 at the age of twelve. Subsequently, he embarked to England at age sixteen for enrollment at Taunton College, Somerset, a private school also associated with Methodism.

The young Sarbah had little desire to follow his father in the coastal mercantile business, which by 1895 was entering into decline Instead with his parents continued support he continued to live in the UK and entered upon the study of the law at Lincoln s Inn Fields London After three years of study and apprenticeship ...

Article

Robert Fay

Born at Cape Coast in 1864, John Mensah Sarbah (also known as Kofi Mensah) was the first son of John and Sarah Sarbah. He attended the Cape Coast Wesleyan School and the Taunton School in England. Sarbah studied law at Lincoln’s Inn in London and in 1887 was the first Gold Coast African admitted to the bar.

Upon his return to Cape Coast, Sarbah established a successful law practice. He considered the traditional political institutions of the Gold Coast basically democratic in nature, and devoted his legal expertise to modernizing these institutions and integrating them into the colony’s legal apparatus. At the same time, he fought for laws protecting Africans from colonial oppression and exploitation. Among his many accomplishments, Sarbah, with the help of Joseph Casely-Hayford, succeeded in defeating the Lands Bill of 1897 which would have ignored traditional property rights and allowed the British government to dispose ...