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Bettina Aptheker

A renowned public intellectual, Angela Y. Davis has been internationally recognized as a leader in movements for peace, social justice, national liberation, and women’s equality. A scholar and prolific writer, Davis has published five books and scores of essays, commentaries, and reviews. Since the 1970s she has persevered in struggles to free political prisoners and to dismantle what she was the first to call the prison-industrial complex.

Angela Yvonne Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She was the oldest of four children. Her mother, Sally E. Davis, was a public-school teacher, and her father, B. Frank Davis although qualified to teach managed a service station in order to enhance the family s income Davis s parents were deeply involved in their church and community and committed to the struggle for civil rights When Davis was four years old her family moved out of the all black projects ...

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Lawrie Balfour

Angela Yvonne Davis was, in several ways, born into the heart of the struggle for civil rights. Her family lived in the middle-class section of Birmingham, Alabama, that came to be known as Dynamite Hill because so many Ku Klux Klan bombings occurred there. Davis attended segregated schools, where children were taught black history but at the same time were denied adequate school supplies and facilities. Her mother and grandmother encouraged Davis to fight for civil rights while she was still in elementary school. As a high school student, Davis helped organize interracial study groups that were broken up by the police.

When she was fifteen, Davis left Birmingham to attend the Elizabeth Irwin School in New York City. Teachers at the politically progressive school introduced Davis to Socialism, from which she gained ideas that informed her later activism. From 1961 to 1965 Davis attended Brandeis University ...

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

Kate Tuttle

At the time of his murder Chris Hani (born Martin Thembisile Hani) was second only to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela among popular antiapartheid activists, and his militant rhetoric made him the favorite of South Africa's disaffected young blacks. His 1993 assassination occurred at the height of the negotiations between the government and antiapartheid organizations and sparked days of rioting and violent government retaliation that threatened to disrupt the negotiating process—results that some felt reflected the assassins' goals. But the crisis instead proved the strength of Mandela's leadership, as the African National Congress (ANC) appealed for calm and continued the talks.

Hani, who was born in the bantustan, or “black homeland,” of Transkei and graduated from the University of Fort Hare in 1962, was a classics scholar turned freedom fighter. He joined the ANC Youth League in 1957 and in 1962 went into exile to join the ANC s newly ...

Article

Raymond Suttner

leading South African communist and antiapartheid activist, was treated by the apartheid regime as its key enemy. At the same time he had a heroic image among the oppressed black majority as a white person totally dedicated to liberation.

Slovo, whose birth name was Yossel Mashel, was born into poverty in Obel, a village in Lithuania, the son of Yiddish-speaking parents, who were isolated from the Lithuanian community by their language and by anti-Semitism. His father left Obel when Joe was two years old to find a better environment. Settling in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a fruit hawker, it was six years before the father could send for his family. Joe arrived in 1936 then ten years old According to his daughter Gillian the Slovo family were on the lowest rung of the newly arrived Jewish community but the color of their skin opened a world of opportunity denied ...