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Article

Jorge Amado, who wrote more than thirty novels during his career, played a significant role in representing African culture in Brazilian literature. Among his subjects are the blacks of Salvador, in Amado's home state of Bahia, and the African religious rituals that sustain them. Although Amado's approach to Afro-Brazilian traditions is sympathetic and exceptionally detailed, his Bahian novels have met with much controversy. A younger generation of Brazilian and non-Brazilian critics have accused Amado of creating overly exotic portraits of black culture and creating simplistic, class-bound character types.

Amado the son of a plantation owner in Bahia attended a Jesuit college at age 12 However after just one year he rebelled against the strict lifestyle at the school and left to live with his grandfather During the 1930s Amado joined the Brazilian Communist Party and his writings from this period reflect his ideological commitment to communism These works such ...

Article

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 ...

Article

David Killingray

Pan‐AfricanMarxist and scholar. Blackman was born in Barbados and won a scholarship to the University of Durham, where he studied theology. He was ordained in the Anglican Church and went to the Gambia as a missionary priest, where he clashed with his bishop over differences of pay for white and black clergy. Having resigned from the Church, Blackman returned to Barbados, but then, in 1938, he settled in London. He joined the leftist Negro Welfare Association, of which he became chairman, and also the League Against Imperialism, being a major speaker on both their platforms. He also became a member of the Executive Committee of the more liberally inclined League of Coloured Peoples, and in 1938–9 editor of its then occasional journal The Keys, writing critically on colonial policy; he also gave evidence to the Royal Commission on the West Indies. In November 1938 ...

Article

Miriam Elizabeth Villanueva

was born on 21 April 1937 in Colón, Panama, the son of Colombian Leland Britton, a mariner, and Nicaraguan Nelly Morrison, a day laborer. Both of his parents were descendants of West Indian families who immigrated to Nicaragua and Colombia in the early twentieth century. Britton senior and Morrison met each other while working in Panama. Britton’s parents raised him and his brother Federico in the neighborhood of Río Bajo, known for its influx of black West Indian families. The neighborhood housed recently arrived or seasoned immigrants from the West Indies who traveled to construct the Panama Canal between 1904 and 1914. It fostered a community that embraced West Indian traditions and the English language. Britton championed and recognized his hybrid ethnicity as a West Indian and Panamanian.

Britton spent his youth in Colón and attended the local elementary school until he transferred to Colombia for three years Britton ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

was born in New York City on 29 September 1915, the son of Charles Breechford Burnham and Louise St. Clair Williams Burnham, Afro-Guyanese migrants to the United States. A cousin of Guyana prime minister Forbes Burnham, Louis Burnham stands as a marked contrast to the common stereotype that Guyanese socialists are mostly of East Indian descent, while Guyanese of African descent are more conservative in their politics.

Some sources presume that Burnham was born in Barbados, but census records show that while his Guyanese parents were both born there, his mother immigrated to the United States in 1909, and that his father did so no later than 1914, perhaps before 1910. Neither was a naturalized citizen in 1920, when the family lived at 253 West 139th Street in Harlem. He had an older brother, Charles St. Clair Burnham, born in New York in 1914 ...

Article

Alexandra Vega-Merino

Jesús Colón was born in 1901 in Cayey, a rural town near San Juan, Puerto Rico. In a 1917 editorial, which expressed a view that remained consistent through much of his professional life, he wrote about the capacity of words to transform society. A few months later he arrived in New York, New York, where he spent the rest of his life. There, he held multiple menial jobs, such as waiting tables and washing dishes. In 1918 he became a founding member of the Puerto Rican Committee of the Socialist Party; in the following decades he became a relentless organizer of other political and cultural groups. One year after his 1922 graduation from Boys High Evening School, he started writing for Justicia, the newspaper of the Puerto Rican Free Federation of Workers. Regular columns in publications such as Gráfico and the Daily Worker followed.

Colón s essays ...

Article

Emilio Jorge Rodríguez

was born Fabián Jesús Colón López, but he would use various pseudonyms, such as Miquis Tiquis and Pericles Espada throughout his career. Born on 20 January 1901 in Cayey, Puerto Rico; his father, Mauricio, was a baker and his mother, Paula, was a domestic worker. During his childhood while working in a tobacco factory near his home, he enjoyed reading literary works and absorbed the intellectual stimulation that the public readers in the tobacco shop offered workers throughout the day. After his family moved to San Juan, he attended school at the Escuela José Julián Acosta, where he directed the student paper ¡¡¡Adelante…!!! (1917) and ran the Manuel Fernández Juncos literary society. During this chapter of his life he began to write poetry. In 1917 he traveled to New York on the S.S. Carolina and settled in the home of his older brother Joaquín in Brooklyn Colón ...

Article

Peter Limb

known popularly as “Mota” (Gujerati term of affectionate respect) or “Doc,” South African communist, liberation movement and Indian leader, and physician, was born in Krugersdorp in 1909 to Muslim Indian immigrants Mohamed and Amina, who in 1904 started a business in Krugersdorp. The son of a prosperous merchant, racial segregation soon affected Yusuf as he traveled daily to working-class Fordsburg to attend Indian-only schools.

After early schooling, he left for India, matriculating at Aligarh Muslim College, where Gandhi’s anticolonial movement left a deep impression. Refusing to enter the family business, in 1929 he moved to London to study medicine and got involved in anticolonial politics. His father insisted he move to Edinburgh to avoid politics, and in 1936 Dadoo graduated with Glasgow and Edinburgh medical degrees, but his political involvement with the Independent Labour Party and Indian National Congress intensified as he began to read Marxist literature.

In 1936 ...

Article

Robert Fay

James W. Ford was born in Pratt City, Alabama, on December 22, 1893. In 1913 he entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated in 1920 after serving in the army during World War I (1914–1918). Ford then moved to Chicago, where he became a postal worker and joined the Chicago Postal Workers Union and the American Negro Labor Congress, both affiliates of the Communist Party USA.

Ford joined the Communist Party in 1926 and rose rapidly through its ranks. In 1928 he was a delegate to the party's executive committee meeting in Moscow. In 1931 he became vice president of the party's League of Struggle for Negro Rights. He was the first African American on a presidential ticket, running for vice president with William Z. Foster in 1932. They received 102,991 votes.

In 1933 Ford was selected to head the party s ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

Born in Camagüey, Cuba, Nicolás Guillén is widely considered Cuba's preeminent poet, on a par with such Latin American literary masters as Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, and César Vallejo. According to literary scholar Josaphat B. Kubayanda, “Guillén's poetry was the first successful development in Cuba of a vital and original aesthetic based upon the black and African elements on Caribbean soil.” He was also a committed communist and his poems and journalism powerfully reflect his political and national concerns. Like the black American singer and activist Paul Robeson, Guillén devoted much of his life to the pursuit of peace, both in racially torn prerevolutionary Cuba and abroad. He traveled extensively throughout the world and in 1954 received the Lenin International Peace Prize.

Guillén is equally a part of the community of black poets exemplified by Harlem Renaissance writers Claude McKay, Sterling Brown ...

Article

The son of former slaves, Harry Haywood moved with his family from Nebraska to Minneapolis, which he left to fight in the 370th Infantry in France during World War I. Settling in Chicago, Illinois in the early 1920s, Haywood supported himself as a bootblack, busboy, and bellboy. He was recruited into the African Blood Brotherhood, a secret Black Nationalist organization, as well as into the Young Workers League, both associated with the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA).

Haywood was a leading proponent of Black Nationalism, self-determination, and the idea that American blacks are a colonized people who should organize themselves into a nation. From 1926 to 1930, Haywood studied in the Soviet Union, where he met several anticolonial revolutionaries, including Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh. On his return to the U.S. in 1931 he was chosen to head the Communist Party s Negro Department ...

Article

Larvester Gaither

major organizer and theoretician of the Communist International. Though Harry Haywood's parents, Harriet and Haywood Hall, were born into slavery, they had migrated to South Omaha, Nebraska, by the time he was born. When Harry was fifteen, his father, a meatpacker, was attacked by a white mob and the family was forced to leave Nebraska; they moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and eventually settled in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1917 Haywood entered the U.S. Army, and as a member of the Illinois 370th Infantry he set sail for France in April 1918. The year Haywood returned home to Chicago from the war, 1919, the city was engulfed in a bloody race riot. Such experiences radicalized Haywood, and after a brief stint with the African Blood Brotherhood he joined the Young Communist League in 1923.

He joined the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) in 1925 and moved ...

Article

Leila Kamali

Historian, editor, and political activist born on 10 December 1921 near Johannesburg, the child of Latvian Jews. Hirson was educated at Hebrew school in Johannesburg, and studied mathematics at the University of Witwatersrand, where he later worked as a physicist. In 1940 he joined the left‐wing Hashomer Hatzair, subsequently becoming a member of various Trotskyist groups. Between 1944 and 1946 he was a political organizer for the Workers' International League.

Hirson participated in setting up black trade unions, in extremely difficult conditions created by the Suppression of Communism Act. He became involved in the Non‐European Unity Movement, and in the late 1950s joined the Congress of Democrats, the white arm of the ANC‐led Congress Alliance.

After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 Hirson and his colleagues highly critical of the Congress Alliance s leadership and policies organized the National Committee for Liberation which advocated sabotage as a substitute for peaceful ...

Article

As a youth, Hosea Hudson worked with his family on the Sharecropping land where they lived and was, therefore, unable to attend school. In 1917, he married and began sharecropping land separately from his family. After Boll Weevils destroyed his crops, Hudson moved with his new family to Atlanta in 1923. The next year he settled in Birmingham, Alabama where he began his career in iron molding.

Hudson soon engaged in informal attempts to better the treatment of African American workers. But it was not until 1931, when he joined the Communist Party of the U.S.A. (CPUSA), that Hudson became a public voice for worker's rights. Fired within a year from the Stockham Foundry, and forced to find work under pseudonyms, Hudson nonetheless continued to fight the Great Depression s devastating effects on African American workers During the 1930s Hudson strengthened his ties to the ...

Article

Ronn Pineo

was born during the Great Depression in the remote village of Malimpia, Quinindé Canton, in the province of Esmeraldas. Located along the Pacific coast and adjacent to Colombia, Esmeraldas is the most important area of residence for Afro-Ecuadorians, who constitute less than one in ten of the nation’s population of 14 million. Hurtado’s parents, Esteban Hurtado and Pastora González, were poor and uneducated. They lived as farmers, working small plantings of plantains, sugar, and cacao, crops typical of the region. Jaime was the youngest of their seven children.

When he was 10 years old Hurtado s family moved to the provincial capital the city of Esmeraldas and he began school Hurtado worked shining shoes and helped out at the tavern his parents opened A gifted athlete Hurtado received a scholarship to attend the Eloy Alfaro High School in Guayaquil where he starred on the basketball and track and field teams ...

Article

Amar Wahab

Political activist, journalist, black nationalist, community leader, and feminist. Born in 1915 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Jones moved to New York with her parents and three sisters at the age of 8. Her formal education was ended prematurely by tuberculosis, which damaged her lungs and permanently affected her health. She became actively involved with the Young Communist League of the American Communist Party, and was a vociferous advocate of human and civil rights. She was the editor of Negro Affairs for the Party's paper the Daily Worker, and in 1948 was elected to the Party's National Committee.

After being arrested four times for her involvement in campaigns for a socialist revolution, Jones was deported from the United States and given asylum in England. In exile she worked closely with London's African‐Caribbean community and founded and edited the West Indian Gazette which was vital to her fight for ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

South African Communist leader, was born on 9 August 1905 in the town of Tamposstad, South Africa. He was the second of eleven children of Samuel Segogwane and Spiroah Mmadira Kotane. Both of his parents belonged to the Lutheran Church, and his father was a preacher. After working as a farmhand from 1918 to 1920, he attended a Lutheran mission school with instruction in his native Setsawna language. Kotane transferred to a public school in 1921 and left after receiving his Standard Two degree in 1922. Like so many other rural youth in the 1920s, Kotane then moved to the mining and urban center of the Witswatersrand in 1923. Kotane scrambled to make a living by working numerous jobs: an assistant to a photographer, a miner, a domestic servant, and a baker.

It was Kotane s determination to further his education that led him into the ...

Article

In recalling the events of her life, “Queen Mother” Moore stated its theme: “there wasn’t nothing to do but get into the struggle.” A powerful street speaker and adept political organizer, Moore was involved for almost a century in a host of crucial campaigns in support of Garveyism, the Harlem boycott and renters’ rights movements, the Republican and Communist parties, the Scottsboro defense, Pan-Africanism, and the reparations movement.

Born in New Iberia, Louisiana, Moore had experiences growing up in the South that profoundly influenced her political vision. Her parents’ lives had been shaped by white violence, and her own memories included lynchings, manhunts, and overt discrimination. Moore’s father, St. Cyr Moore, born as a result of his mother’s rape by a white man, ran a livery stable. Moore’s mother, Ella Henry was raised in a middle class French Creole household after her father was lynched by whites ...

Article

Born in rural Louisiana, Audley Moore and her family experienced the terror of racism in its most brutal form with the Lynching of her paternal grandfather. Her parents died when Moore was in the fourth grade, and by the time she was fifteen she had to raise and support herself and her two sisters by working as a hairdresser.

Her family's suffering and the racism she faced pushed Moore to political activism. In New Orleans she joined Marcus Garvey's militant Universal Negro Improvement Association, inspired by Garvey's Black Nationalism and pride in blacks' African heritage. Part of the great migration from rural South to urban North, Moore and her sisters moved to Harlem in the 1920s. Moore became a prominent organizer for the Communist Party particularly in defense of the Scottsboro Boys eight young men in Alabama who were wrongly convicted of rape and sentenced to death ...

Article

John H. McClendon

community and labor organizer, socialist, and communist. Richard Benjamin Moore, a native of Barbados, was born to Richard Henry Moore, a preacher and building contractor, and Josephine Thorn Moore. Unfortunately Richard's mother died when he was only three years old. As a result his father was the most important person in Richard's upbringing. The elder Moore was responsible for introducing his son to the importance of gaining an education, having a religious outlook on life, and striving to maintain an ethic of hard work. Although he remained a diligent worker throughout his life, Moore later gave up religion for the philosophy of Marxist dialectical materialism.

With Moore's arrival in the United States in 1909 he faced the need to find employment and was also gripped by the burning desire to continue his education Finding employment and gaining an education were hurdles he had clearly ...