1-20 of 39 results  for:

  • African American Studies x
  • Results with images only x
Clear all

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

“We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it.” In this statement from his 1972 essay “No Name in the Street,” James Baldwin sums up a philosophy that drove much of his work. Baldwin was continually conscious of the hypocrisies and injustices in the world around him, and as a writer he strove to make his audiences aware of the possibility that people could do, and be, better. An expatriate most of his adult life, Baldwin nevertheless wrote tirelessly about the contradictions inherent in American identity, and especially about the state of American race relations. He came to be respected as one of the most insightful intellectuals in the Civil Rights Movement and as a leading figure in the African American literary tradition.

Baldwin was born in Harlem, New York, in 1924 Shortly ...

Article

Carolyn Wedin

writer and civil rights activist. James Arthur Baldwin was born James Arthur Jones in Harlem Hospital in New York City to Emma Berdis Jones. He was adopted by Jones's husband David Baldwin, a Baptist preacher and factory worker, in 1927.

By the time of his death Baldwin had become a kind of prophetic spokesperson—as both artist and activist—for black life and black history in America, a strong critic of the country he loved. This he accomplished with considerable reflective time spent outside the country, especially in France and Turkey; with wide-ranging artistic and literary contacts; and with a consummate skill in several literary genres, especially the essay, the novel, and the play.

Home life for Jimmy was hectic and demanding He moved frequently between crowded apartments in Harlem with his overworked mother his angry stepfather David Baldwin s mother and oldest son and eight brothers and sisters ...

Article

Ann Rayson

author, was born James Arthur Baldwin in Harlem, in New York City, the illegitimate son of Emma Berdis Jones, who married the author's stepfather, David Baldwin, in 1927. David Baldwin was a laborer and weekend storefront preacher who had an enormous influence on the author's childhood; his mother was a domestic who had eight more children after he was born. Baldwin was singled out early in school for his intelligence, and at least one white teacher, Orrin Miller, took a special interest in him. At P.S. 139, Frederick Douglass Junior High School, Baldwin met black poet Countée Cullen, a teacher and literary club adviser there. Cullen saw some of Baldwin's early poems and warned him against trying to write like Langston Hughes, so Baldwin turned from poetry to focus more on writing fiction. In 1938 he experienced a profound religious conversion at the ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

poet, playwright, educator, and activist, was born Everett Leroy Jones in Newark, New Jersey, the eldest of two children to Coyette Leroy Jones, a postal supervisor, and Anna Lois Russ, a social worker. Jones's lineage included teachers, preachers, and shop owners who elevated his family into Newark's modest, though ambitious, black middle class. His own neighborhood was black, but the Newark of Jones's youth was mostly white and largely Italian. He felt isolated and embattled at McKinley Junior High and Barringer High School, yet he excelled in his studies, played the trumpet, ran track, and wrote comic strips.

Graduating from high school with honors at age fifteen, Jones entered the Newark branch of Rutgers University on a science scholarship. In 1952 after his first year he transferred to Howard University hoping to find a sense of purpose at a black college that had ...

Article

Magda Romanska

playwright, poet, writer, and one of the leaders of the black revolt of the 1960s. Imamu Amiri Baraka was born Everett Leroy Jones during the Great Depression in Newark, New Jersey. He is credited as one of the most outspoken advocates of a black cultural and political revival in the 1960s. He attended Barringer High School and Rutgers University, where he pursued philosophy and religious studies, before enrolling in Howard University in Washington, D.C. It was then that he changed his name to LeRoi Jones. Baraka graduated from Howard University in 1953, and in 1954 he joined the U S Air Force in which he served for three years When an anonymous tipster suggested that he was a communist sympathizer Baraka s belongings were searched for subversive literature Because some of his books were deemed socialist Baraka was discharged from the military Shortly thereafter he ...

Article

Linda Chavers

actress, was born Angela Evelyn Bassett in the Bronx, New York, to Betty Bassett, a social worker, and a father whose name and occupation are unknown. Soon after Angela's birth her parents divorced, and she moved with her mother and sister to St. Petersburg, Florida. Bassett first thought of a career in acting after a 1974 school trip to Washington, D.C., where she saw James Earl Jones perform in Of Mice and Men at the Kennedy Center.

After graduating from Boca Ciega High School in St. Petersburg in 1976, Bassett won a scholarship to study at Yale University. She earned her BA in African American Studies in 1980 and a master of fine arts from the Yale School of Drama in 1983. After Yale, Bassett did a stint as a photo researcher for U.S. News and World Report while also pursuing theater roles in New York and ...

Article

Anthony Chase and Thomas Dooney

In his 1968 essay, “The Black Arts Movement,” Larry Neal described the Black Nationalist Arts Movement, for which he was a major voice, as an aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept. In truth, the movement was more of a brother. Women of the civil rights era, like female artists of the generations preceding them, often had to forge careers outside of established institutions, even when those institutions had overtly activist missions.

Article

Alice Knox Eaton

slave narrator, novelist, playwright, historian, and abolitionist leader, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of a slave mother, Elizabeth, and George Higgins, the white half-brother of Brown's first master, Dr. John Young. As a slave, William was spared the hard labor of his master's plantation, unlike his mother and half-siblings, because of his close blood relation to the slave-holding family, but as a house servant he was constantly abused by Mrs. Young. When the family removed to a farm outside St. Louis, Missouri, William was hired out in various capacities, including physician's assistant, servant in a public house, and waiter on a steamship. William's “best master” in slavery was Elijah P. Lovejoy, publisher of the St. Louis Times, where he was hired out in the printing office in 1830 Lovejoy was an antislavery editor who would be murdered seven years later for refusing ...

Article

Elizabeth Brown-Guillory

Alice Childress was never flattered by the litany of firsts that were used to refer to her works She believed that when people have been barred from something for so long it seems ironic to emphasize the first Instead Childress looked to the day when she would be the fiftieth or one hundredth African American artist to accomplish something Long regarded as a champion of the masses of poor people in America Childress wrote about the disparity between rich and poor underscoring that racism and sexism are added burdens forced upon women of color A reticent and private person Childress boldly spoke out in her works against an American government that either exploits or ignores poor people in the name of capitalism One of Childress s strongest convictions was that black authors must explore and include black history in their writings Her sagacity and commitment to preserving black culture and ...

Article

Clifton H. Johnson

poet and playwright, was the son of Elizabeth Thomas Lucas. The name of his father is not known. The place of his birth has been variously cited as Louisville, Kentucky, New York City, and Baltimore, Maryland. Although in later years Cullen claimed to have been born in New York City, it probably was Louisville, which he consistently named as his birthplace in his youth and which he wrote on his registration form for New York University. His mother died in Louisville in 1940.

In 1916 Cullen was enrolled in Public School Number 27 in the Bronx, New York, under the name of Countee L. Porter, with no accent on the first “e.” At that time he was living with Amanda Porter, who generally is assumed to have been his grandmother. Shortly after she died in October 1917, Countee went to live with the Reverend Frederick Ashbury ...

Article

Daniel Donaghy

poet, scholar, teacher, editor, playwright, and novelist. Cullen was born Countée Leroy Porter most likely in Louisville, Kentucky. Exactly where he was born remains a mystery since there is no extant birth certificate and Cullen himself claimed two cities as his birthplace at different points in his life. On his application to New York University, he wrote that he was born in Louisville. Cullen's second wife, Ida Mae Roberson, and his friends Langston Hughes and Harold Jackman each said that Cullen also told them he was born there. After Cullen gained a reputation as one of the most respected writers of the Harlem Renaissance, however, he claimed on several occasions that he was born in New York City. Another mystery surrounding Cullen's early years is his relationship with Amanda Porter who raised him from his infancy moving with him to New York ...

Article

Samuel A. Hay

writer, actor, and director, was born in Cogdell, Georgia, the oldest of four children of Kince Charles Davis, an herb doctor and Bible scholar, and Laura Cooper. Ossie's mother intended to name him “R.C.,” after his paternal grandfather, Raiford Chatman Davis, but when the clerk at Clinch County courthouse thought she said “Ossie,” Laura did not argue with him, because he was white.

Ossie was attacked and humiliated while in high school by two white policemen, who took him to their precinct and doused him with cane syrup. Laughing, they gave the teenager several hunks of peanut brittle and released him. He never reported the incident but its memory contributed to his sensibilities and politics. In 1934 Ossie graduated from Center High School in Waycross Georgia and even though he received scholarships to attend Savannah State College and Tuskegee Institute he did ...

Article

Amy Tillerson

poet. Dove's writing gives voice and power to ordinary people by examining social injustice and everyday life both historically and contemporarily through the lenses of race, gender, and class.

Dove was born to middle-class parents in Akron, Ohio. Her grandparents were involved in the Great Migration, which brought them north from the rural South. Dove's book of poetry, Thomas and Beulah, about her maternal grandparents won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1987. Dove's mother, Elvira Hord Dove, graduated from high school at the age of sixteen and was awarded a full academic scholarship to Howard University. Believing that Washington, D.C., was too far from home, Elvira's parents did not allow her to accept the scholarship, and she enrolled in a local secretarial school. Rita Dove's father, Ray Dove earned an MA in chemistry from the University of Akron and completed the coursework necessary for ...

Article

Elizabeth Brown-Guillory

When Shirley Graham wrote in a 1933Crisis essay, “Black man’s music has become America’s music. It will not die,” she summed up one of her life’s ambitions: to bring to the foreground the many accomplishments of African Americans in every field. One of Graham’s concerns was that African Americans would eventually abandon their spirituals, with their unique rhythms and haunting melodies. In an effort to preserve black music, she became the first African American woman to write and produce an all-black opera, Tom-Toms: An Epic of Music and the Negro (1932). This was just one successful effort in a lifetime devoted to the preservation of black history and culture.

Shirley Lola Graham was born on a farm near Evansville, Indiana, to David Andrew Graham and Etta Bell Graham Graham and her four brothers were encouraged by their father a Methodist missionary to discover black culture ...

Article

Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was born in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of four children. Her parents were Carl Augustus Hansberry, a prominent real estate broker, and Nannie Perry, a schoolteacher who devoted her later life to activism. In 1940 Carl Hansberry won a victory in the United States Supreme Court case Hansberry v. Lee, which led to the repeal of restricted covenants (laws that prevented blacks from buying property in white neighborhoods). Enforcement did not follow the change in law, however, and Hansberry's disappointed father left the United States and emigrated to Mexico, where he later died.

Frustrated by her education at the University of Wisconsin, Hansberry stayed for only two years—long enough to take some courses in drama and stage design and to fall under the spell of Juno and the Paycock, a play by the Irish dramatist Sean O'Casey The melody was one ...

Article

Daniel Donaghy

playwright. Lorraine Hansberry received the 1959 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for her first produced play, A Raisin in the Sun, which brought working-class African American lives to the Broadway stage for the first time. At age twenty-nine, Hansberry was selected over established writers such as Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Archibald MacLeish to become the youngest person and only the fifth woman to win the award. Less than six years later, however, after periods of poor health during which she still managed to speak out on behalf of civil rights, women's rights, and governmental restraint, Hansberry died of cancer at the age of thirty-four. In her short life, Hansberry made a lasting impression on not only American theater, but also American literature and culture. In his 1969 introduction to Hansberry's adapted autobiography, To Be Young, Gifted, and Black, James Baldwin wrote I had ...

Article

Steven R. Carter

playwright, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Carl Augustus Hansberry, a real estate agent, and Nannie Perry, a schoolteacher. Throughout her childhood, Lorraine Hansberry's home was visited by many distinguished blacks, including Paul Robeson, Duke Ellington, and her uncle, the Africanist William Leo Hansberry, who helped inspire her enthusiasm for African history. In 1938, to challenge real estate covenants against blacks, Hansberry's father moved the family into a white neighborhood where a mob gathered and threw bricks, one of which nearly hit Lorraine. Two years later, after he won his case on the matter of covenants before the Supreme Court, they continued in practice. Embittered by U.S. racism, Carl Hansberry planned to relocate his family in Mexico in 1946 but died before the move.

After studying drama and stage design at the University of Wisconsin from 1948 to 1950 Hansberry went ...

Article

Margaret B. Wilkerson

Lorraine Hansberry was a celebrated black playwright who was born in Chicago, Illinois, and died in New York City at the age of thirty-four after a scant six years in the professional theater. Her first produced play, A Raisin in the Sun, has become an American classic, enjoying numerous productions since its original presentation in 1959 and many professional revivals during its twenty-fifth anniversary year in 1983-1984. The Broadway revival in 2004 brought the play to a new generation, and earned two Antoinette Perry (Tony) Awards for individual performances. The roots of Hansberry’s artistry and activism lie in the city of Chicago, her early upbringing, and her family.

Article

Lisa K. Perdigao

poet, fiction writer, and dramatist, was born in Greenville, Mississippi, to George and Angeline Jackson. Her family moved from the South to Chicago, Illinois, when she was a child, and she remained there during her studies, graduating from Northwestern University with a BA in 1977. In 1970 Jackson became involved with Chicago's Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC) and attended the writers' workshop run by Hoyt Fuller, coordinator of OBAC and editor of Black World. Jackson, who became the coordinator of the OBAC in 1976 (a role she occupied until 1990), was influenced by its focus on the black aesthetic and dedicated her first book of poetry, Voo Doo/Love Magic (1974), to her family, Fuller, and OBAC. Her second collection, the chapbook The Greenville Club, was published in Four Black Poets (1977), a collection that Alvin Aubert ...

Article

Louis J. Parascandola

poet and dramatist, was born Georgia Blanche Douglas Camp in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of George Camp and Laura Jackson, a maid. Her birth date has traditionally been recorded as 10 September 1886, but recent biographies—based on obituary notices and school sources—alternatively list her year of birth as 1880 or 1877. Georgia's paternal grandfather was a wealthy Englishman, her maternal grandmother was a Native American, and her maternal grandfather was an African American. Her early years were spent in Rome, Georgia, and she graduated from Atlanta University's Normal School in 1893. In 1902–1903 she continued her schooling at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she studied piano, violin, harmony, and voice. Her interest in music was reflected in her literary work.

She taught school in Marietta, Georgia, and later became an assistant principal in Atlanta. In September 1903 she married Henry Lincoln “Link” Johnson ...