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Margaret Wade-Lewis

linguist educator early computer language translator Africanist scholar of Arabic and Berber was born in Wildwood New Jersey to Joseph Henry Applegate and Nancy Berkley Applegate His father was a second generation New Jersey resident whose father was a Native American from Maine Applegate s mother whose father was also Native American migrated from Virginia to Philadelphia where Applegate s parents met around the time of World War I Neither parent had more than an elementary school education Hardworking and ambitious they held high aspirations for their children Applegate and his sister enjoyed the advantages of a small town working class upbringing along with direct contact with black artists and entertainers who frequented the seaside summer boarding house their parents operated in Wildwood New Jersey Although the family was not affluent Applegate s environment was sophisticated and urbane He recalled awakening to the sounds of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington ...

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Daniel Douglas

(b. 14 August 1942), scholar. One of the foremost contemporary scholars in the field of African American studies, Asante was born Arthur Lee Smith Jr. in Valdosta, Georgia, one of sixteen children of Arthur Lee Smith and Lillie Smith. In 1964 he graduated cum laude from Oklahoma Christian University with a BA in communications. The next year he earned his MA, also in communications, from Pepperdine University. Three years later, in 1968, he earned his PhD in communications from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

After spending a year at Purdue University, Asante returned to UCLA as a faculty member. With the 1969 publication of his first major work, Rhetoric of Black Revolution he was named director of the university s Center for Afro American Studies He helped create the African American Library at UCLA and helped establish its MA program in Afro ...

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Charles Orson Cook

African “Pygmy” who was put on display at the Bronx Zoo. In 1904, the white missionary Samuel Phillips Verner brought Ota Benga whose freedom he had purchased with a bribe to Belgian Congo officials and seven other Congolese Pygmies to the Saint Louis World s Fair as part of an ethnological exhibit of primitive peoples which included among others the Native American Apache chief Geronimo Verner s agreement with the World s Fair required him to bring several Africans and as much of their village intact as possible He actually brought fewer tribesmen than his contract required and many fewer artifacts but the exhibit was one of the most popular attractions at the fair The Africans were the objects of constant public attention and they also drew the interest of professional and academic ethnologists who measured the physical and mental characteristics of the Pygmies concluding that they were ...

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Karen Backstein

dancer, choreographer, and educator, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to a theatrical and musical family. One of New York's most superb and demanding jazz teachers, as well as an excellent choreographer, Benjamin began his career at the age of four, studying with Elma Lewis at her well-respected School of Fine Arts. Two years later, he started studying ballet, a requirement for all of Lewis's students, no matter which style they chose to focus on. When peer pressure led Benjamin to stop dancing briefly—a not uncommon situation for young male dancers—he shifted to acting, taking classes at Boston Children's Theatre. Two years later he returned to Lewis's school and found something new: George Howard, a teacher of Haitian dance. Still a child, Benjamin knew instantly that “that's the thing I wanted to do, with the drums and everything. It was so exciting to me” (Hall, 3).

Lewis ...

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Boyd Childress

professional basketball player and humanitarian activist, was born in Gogrial, Sudan. Born to Madut and Okwok Bol, his father was a herder in the Sudan. Legend has it that Bol, who shared this task, once killed a lion with a spear while tending the family's cattle. Members of the Dinka tribe, noteworthy for their height, Bol's parents were tall—his mother was 6 feet 10 inches. Bol grew to an extraordinary 7 feet 7 inches. When he was a teenager with such height, a cousin suggested he take up basketball. Playing for a team in the larger city of Wau and later in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, Bol was discovered by Don Feeley, a coach from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. He came to the United States in 1983 and although he weighed only 180 pounds and lacked athleticism Bol was drafted by the then ...

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Kenneth C. Barnes

educator, clergyman, missionary, and community leader, was born in Columbia County, Georgia, the son of Lewis Bouey, a carpenter, and Maria, a cook. The couple had no other children. Bouey spent his early life in Augusta, Georgia, where he was apprenticed to learn the painter's trade and attended night school. He passed the examination to become licensed as a teacher and taught in the public schools of Augusta for two years. From 1870 to 1873 he attended the Baptist Theological School in Augusta, an institution that later moved to Atlanta and in 1913 was renamed Morehouse College. Upon graduation he moved to Ridge Springs, South Carolina, where he became principal of a school and taught there for two years.

Bouey's work as an educational and community leader brought him into politics in 1874 He was elected to a two year term as probate judge in Edgefield County ...

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Linda M. Carter

missionary and founding father of the state of Liberia, was born in Hicksford, Greensville County, Virginia, the elder son of John Day Sr., an affluent furniture maker, farmer, and landowner, and Mourning Stewart Day. The Days were free African Americans, and Day's father, as early as the 1789 election, was accorded voting status.

In an era when formal education for African Americans was rare, Day reaped the benefits of being the offspring of two prominent families. His father arranged for him to board in Edward Whitehorne's home, and Day, along with the Whitehorne children, attended Jonathan Bailey's school. While residing with the family, Day received some level of religious instruction from Whitehorne. In 1807 Day's father, who had been residing in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, purchased a plantation in Sussex County, Virginia, near the Whitehorne residence, and Day then attended William Northcross's school.

At the age of nineteen ...

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Cheikh Anta Diop is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the twentieth century. A central figure in African-centered scholarship, his intellectual range and work spanned many disciplines. At the 1966 World Festival of the Arts in Dakar, Senegal, Diop shared with the late W. E. B. Du Bois an award as the writer who had exerted the greatest influence on black thought. He is most known for his work to reaffirm the African character of ancient Egypt through scientific study and to encourage African scholars to use ancient Egypt as a source of valuable paradigms to enrich contemporary African life and contribute to new ways of understanding and improving the world.

Cheikh Anta Diop was born in Diourbel Senegal a town that has a long tradition of Muslim scholarship and learning fostered by the Mouride Brotherhood He began his education at the age of four in ...

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Karen E. Sutton

free black loyalist in Preston Township, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and one of the founders of Freetown, Sierra Leone, is a person about whom little early information is known. He may have begun life as a slave in one of the former British colonies before the war, and his name may have been a “freedom name”; that is, one that he chose for himself when his personal liberty came. Probably he was the same British Freedome granted land in the Merigumish Township, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada, for service as a private in the 82nd Regiment of Foot (S. Patterson, History of County of Pictou, 460). Some members of that regiment served at the Battle of Yorktown with the British General Cornwallis Freedom s name is not in the Book of Negroes the list of black Americans freed after the American Revolution and who left with ...

Article

Joseph E. Harris

historian of Africa, was born in Gloster, Mississippi, the son of Harriet Pauline Bailey and Eldon Hayes Hansberry, a professor at Alcorn A&M College in Mississippi. His father's personal library inspired him to pursue history as a career. According to Hansberry, by the time he entered Atlanta University in 1914 he had become “something of an authority on the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome.”

A second major influence on Hansberry was W.-E.-B. Du Bois's book, The Negro, published in 1916. For the first time, Hansberry learned about the societies and achievements of Africans in ancient and medieval times. Unable to pursue the subject in depth at Atlanta University, he transferred to Harvard University, where he studied anthropology and archaeology and received a BA in 1921 and an MA in 1932 Although Harvard did not offer courses on Africa it ...

Article

Thomas E. Carney

cultural anthropologist. Melville Jean Herskovits was born in Bellefontaine, Ohio, the son of Herman and Henrietta Hart Herskovits, Jewish immigrants from Europe. Originally he intended to pursue a career in religion and enrolled at the University of Cincinnati and Hebrew Union College. In 1917, World War I interrupted his education, and he enlisted in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. Upon his return from the service, he went to the University of Chicago, where he received his BA in history in 1920. He then changed his focus for his graduate studies: he studied anthropology at Columbia University, receiving his MA in 1921 and his PhD in 1923. He began his teaching career at Howard University, where he taught from 1925 to 1927; in 1927 he married Frances S. Shapiro, who died in 1972 Then Herskovits moved to Northwestern University for the remainder of his ...

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John Fabian Witt

minister, schoolteacher, Union League organizer, and Liberian emigrant, was born into slavery near Yorkville (later York), South Carolina, probably the son of a light-skinned house slave named Dorcas Hill and a man brought as a slave from Africa to South Carolina. At the age of seven, Hill contracted a crippling disease that he called “rheumatism,” but that was probably polio. His owner's five-year-old son, Daniel Harvey Hill (the man who would later famously lose a copy of Robert E. Lee's battle plans while serving as a Confederate general at Antietam seems to have come down with a mild case of the same disease at almost the same time But Hill got the worst of it He was never again able to walk His legs shrunk to the diameter of an average man s wrist His arms were like those of a small child His fingers ...

Article

Adebe DeRango-Adem

was born in Nedjio, Ethiopia, to a Yemenite Jewish father, Yishaq, prominent in the Dire Dawa Jewish community as a silversmith, and an Ethiopian Christian mother, Ruth, who later converted to Judaism. He received his early education in Ethiopia and in 1937 came to the United States, where he dedicated his life to scholarship on Africa and became the founder and first professor of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University.

Professor Ephraim Isaac earned his secondary education in Ethiopia and was later given a scholarship to go to college in the United States. He earned B.A. degrees in philosophy and chemistry in 1958 from Concordia College in Minnesota. During this time, he was President of the Ethiopian Student Association in North America. He later received an M.A. from Harvard Divinity School and a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University.

Professor Isaac was one of the ...

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A. Kia Sinclair

creator of the holiday of Kwanzaa. Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga was born Ronald McKinley Everett in Parsonsburg, Maryland. Karenga left Maryland in 1958 and relocated to Los Angeles. While in Los Angeles, Karenga developed into a key intellectual, political, and cultural figure. Karenga attended Los Angeles City College, where he became the first black to serve as student-body president. He received his BA and MA degrees in political science and African studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Karenga received two PhDs, the first in political science from the United States International University (1976) and the second in social ethics from the University of Southern California (1993). Karenga was also awarded an honorary PhD from South Africa's University of Durban-Westville.

In the 1960s with the Black Power movement on the rise African Americans were asserting their blackness by sporting Afros and dashikis and by abandoning the ...

Article

David Michel

Islamic leader, was born Benjamin Goodman, the only child of Mary Goodman, a hairdresser, and an unknown father in Suffolk, Virginia. Goodman was given his mother's last name because his parents were not married. The family was poor and both he and his mother lived in his grandmother's house. He went to the Easter Graded School in black Saratoga and in 1947 moved to New York for a year. Finding rural Virginia dull, Goodman joined the U.S. Air Force at the age of seventeen and was immediately sent to Flackman Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, for training, after which he was transferred to Japan in 1950 He worked as a radar operator in both Japan and Korea where he experienced discrimination from white American officers Though acknowledged as the best radar operator for his work in Japan and on the war front in Korea ...

Article

Paul Devlin

professional musician and soldier in the French and Indian War and War of Independence, was the freeborn progenitor of a large Groton, Massachusetts, family. The family later spent time in Dracut and Pepperell, where they owned land. His father, Primus Lew, was a skilled artisan (a cooper, or barrel maker) and it is unclear if he was ever a slave and later freed, or was himself freeborn. The historian Benjamin Quarles claimed that Barzillai Lew was also a cooper, and it has been claimed that Primus was also a musician. His mother was named Margret; nothing else about her is known. Father and son both served in the French and Indian War, with Barzillai (also known as “Zeal”) serving for thirty-eight weeks in 1760 under the command of Thomas Farrington. In 1768 he married Dinah Bowman whose freedom he bought for $400 They later had at ...

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Anne K. Driscoll

activist, writer, and author, was born Cleotha Payne Lucas in Spring Hope, near Rocky Mount in eastern North Carolina. One of fourteen children born to James Russell Lucas and Minnie Hendricks, Lucas worked from an early age shining shoes and picking cotton. Activism came early to Lucas, who became a member of the NAACP during his junior year of high school. Lucas became a youth representative and eventually organized a voter registration campaign in Spring Hope, at a time when few African Americans in eastern North Carolina were able to vote.

Following graduation from C. C. Spaulding High School in 1951, Lucas began classes at Maryland State College, now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, in Princess Anne, Maryland. In 1953 Lucas left college and joined the U S Air Force serving as a radio technician for four years and achieving the rank of ...

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Nathaniel Millett

conjurer and slave rebel, was born in East Africa during the final quarter of the eighteenth century. He was a native of the country of “M'Choolay Morcema” (possibly modern Mozambique), from which he was captured, taken to Zanzibar, and sold to Zephaniah Kingsley in 1805. At the time of his enslavement, he possessed a bag of conjuring implements and had been a “priest” in his homeland. Jack may have initially gone to Kingsley's plantation in East Florida but was purchased by the wealthy Charleston shipbuilder, Paul Pritchard, in April 1806 and worked on the docks as a joiner and caulker.

Jack s position as an urban and skilled slave allowed him a number of relative luxuries in a city and society that were dominated by slavery Jack who was single lived by himself off of his master s property and received permission to hire out his time ...

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Charles Rosenberg

an itinerant merchant from West Africa, who tapped into the desperate yearning of many Americans of African descent to get out from under the vicious Jim Crow laws and culture of the early twentieth century, organized clubs and sold shares of stock in a plan for resettlement in the British colony of Gold Coast (now Ghana).

Sam's age is known only from entries on ship passenger manifests; the names of his parents have never been established. He once told a reporter that he was the son of James K. Sam, that his grandfather had been a chief of Obosse and Appasu in West Akim, and that he had inherited the title from his uncle, Kwawim. He attended the Basel Missionary School at Kibi. The Akim were a people conquered in 1814 by the Asante in modern Ghana the Asante Akim have at least six traditional councils and paramount ...

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Sibyl Collins Wilson

anthropologist, university professor, and diplomat, was born in Trinidad and Tobago (then in the British West Indies) to Ettice Francis and Joseph McDonald Skinner. His parents’ professions are not recorded. One of five children—two girls and three boys—Skinner was raised by an aunt from Barbados. Although he was not raised to recognize personal limitations in his ability to learn and was exposed to many different cultures, he recognized that his color limited his economic opportunities in the British Caribbean. His family life also prefigured his scholarly interest in class differences, with his mother's family regarded as more modest in achievements and means than his father's Barbadian forebears, who were landowners and merchants. In 1943 he moved to the United States to live with his father in Harlem New York but instead of finding a job Skinner decided to enlist in the Army as the U S ...