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Article

Elizabeth Heath

The cultural and economic center of the Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan surrounds the Ébrié Lagoon on the Atlantic Ocean's Gulf of Guinea. Historians are not sure when people first inhabited the area, but modern settlement dates from the early sixteenth century. Later in the century the Ébrié people selected the area as the site for three fishing villages—Locodjo, Anoumabo, and Cocody. Portuguese traders explored the area for a brief period in the seventeenth century, but Europeans largely ignored it until French Colonial rule in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1903 the French chose the settlement as the endpoint for a railway connecting Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) to the coast, and a small town soon developed around the train station. The lack of a viable port, however, initially stifled the town's growth.

In 1934 shortly after the completion of the rail link to the Upper ...

Article

Regenia A. Perry, Camara Dia Holloway, Christina Knight, Dele Jegede, Bridget R. Cooks, and Jenifer P. Borum

Term used to describe art made by Americans of African descent. While the crafts of African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries continued largely to reflect African artistic traditions (see Africa, §VIII), the earliest fine art made by professional African American artists was in an academic Western style (see fig.).

Article

Scott Alves Barton

Evidence of African, African American influence in food and foodways begins in the seventeenth century in the New York colony’s Dutch and British “Meal Market” that operated from 1655 to 1762 on Wall Street and the East River where enslaved Africans were also sold. Men, women, and children worked as market vendors of prepared foods like hot corn, fresh produce, oysters, fish, livestock, and as dairymen and -women selling cheeses, butter, and milk in local markets. In addition, the African Burial Ground’s archaeology of colonial privies identifies products such as Brazil nuts, coconut, and watermelon that were not native to New York or Europe. Colonizers may have imported some these goods, but the enslaved would have known how to process or raise them (Cheek and Roberts, 2009; Berlin 1996; Burrows and Wallace 1999 At the same time West African women cooking in elite white colonial and ...

Article

In 1786, Richard Allen, an African American Methodist, began serving as a lay preacher at St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church, a Philadelphia congregation where both whites and blacks worshiped. Allen was a former slave from Delaware who had joined the Evangelical Wesleyan movement because of its work against slavery and he eventually became a licensed Methodist preacher. The efforts of Allen—along with those of Absalom Jones, another African American lay preacher—brought a large influx of blacks to the church, and a balcony was constructed to accommodate the growing congregation. In November 1787 (some sources indicate a date of 1792 Allen Jones and other black worshipers were directed toward the newly built seating gallery but unknowingly sat in the lower section During a prayer a white trustee told Jones to move immediately to the balcony When Jones asked to finish the prayer he was refused Jones Allen ...

Article

Sylvia Frey and Thomas E. Carney

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, from its founding in the mid-eighteenth century through1895. The first article provides a discussion of its relationship with its parent church and reasons for its breakaway while the second article also includes discussion of the ...

Article

Since Methodism first emerged in colonial America, it has consistently attracted African American adherents. According to religious scholar Alfred J. Raboteau, “the direct appeal, dramatic preaching, and plain doctrine of the Methodists, their conscious identification with the ‘simpler sort,’ and especially their antislavery beliefs” drew blacks to the church. Indeed, African Americans had been members of New York City's John Street Methodist Church since its founding in 1768. By 1793 black membership increased to 40 percent of John Street's congregation.

Still, African Americans within the John Street Church—and within American Methodism in general—were treated as second-class citizens. They were denied ordination, forced to sit in segregated pews, and limited in their access to the Methodist itinerant clergy and the Communion table. Frustrated by such treatment, two black John Street members, Peter Williams, and William Miller, founded the African Chapel in 1796 The chapel was later ...

Article

Kerima M. Lewis

The long and illustrious history of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church dates back to the eighteenth century. The founder Richard Allen, a former slave who had been able to purchase his freedom and was an ordained Methodist minister, was assigned to Saint George's Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, where he was allowed to preach to blacks. When in November 1787 several black church members, including Absalom Jones, were pulled from their knees while praying, all the black worshippers left Saint George's to form a church of their own. The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was established in Philadelphia in 1793 and opened in July 1794. In 1816 Richard Allen united black Methodist congregations from the greater Philadelphia area founding the African Methodist Episcopal Church he was elected the first bishop during the new church s first General Conference The Book of Discipline Articles of Religion ...

Article

David P. Johnson

Asmara is located in a highland region of Eritrea that was settled roughly 700 years ago. It is believed to have been the site of four small, feuding villages, which, under pressure from the villages’ women inhabitants, finally made peace and united around 1515. The name Asmara comes from Arbate Asmara, which in the Tigrinya language means “the four villages of those [women] who brought harmony.” Sixteenth-century Italian sources describe Asmara as a caravan trading center.

Shortly afterward Asmara was sacked by Islamic warriors and went into decline. Few historical records even mention Asmara again until the late nineteenth century, when the Italians began their colonial conquest of the region. After occupying Aseb in 1882 and Massawa in 1885, the Italians pushed into the highlands, where they encountered resistance. However, in exchange for weapons Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II signed a treaty in 1889 acquiescing to Italian control ...

Article

Anthony Pinn

Atheism by definition is a philosophy or life strategy that denies the existence of God (or gods) and instead relies on human reason to address life issues. Lacking the same level of certainty, agnosticism holds open the question of God's existence (as well as other religious beliefs) based on the assumption that there is no way to know for certain.

Although a large percentage of African Americans are committed to theism in some form, both atheism and agnosticism have had a long presence in African American communities. Atheism and agnosticism within African American communities have been presented and debated in numerous arenas, all of which reflect the cultural worlds in and by means of which African Americans live. These cultural worlds include: religion, the arts, and politics.

Article

Elizabeth Heath

The administrative, economic, and cultural center of Mali, Bamako lies on the left bank of the Niger River in the southwestern part of the country. Little is known about Bamako before the eleventh century, when it achieved prominence as a center of Islamic scholarship in the Mali empire. After the fall of Mali in the sixteenth century, the Bambara occupied the town, which became a fishing and trading center. In 1806 Scottish explorer Mungo Park estimated Bamako’s population to be less than 6,000. By 1880 the town had fallen under the domination of the Mandinka warrior Samory Touré, whose kingdom covered an expanse of territory to the south.

In 1883 French Lieutenant Colonel Gustave Borgnis Desbordes occupied Bamako and used it as a base for military campaigns against Touré Bamako took on new importance under the French who valued the town s position on the navigable ...

Article

The triangular shipping route of the slave trade largely formed the banking industry in England. British goods such as textiles, arms, and iron were exchanged for slaves in Africa, which were then transported to the West Indies and traded for sugar, tobacco, cotton, spices, and rum. The triangular trade was a system of immense earnings, as every ship sailed with a profitable cargo. The wealth generated by the triangular trade brought increased affluence to the planters who cultivated the West Indian produce, the merchant capitalists who sold the slaves, and the industrial capitalists who produced the British goods, which in turn demanded new banking facilities and functions.

Primary of these new requirements was insurance Shipowners and slave merchants themselves insured early voyages travelling the triangular trade route However the increasing amount of bills drawn against West Indian merchants and accumulated wealth soon required large scale insurance schemes most often drawn ...

Article

Tiffany M. Gill

Black is beautiful This familiar cry of the Black Power movement was revolutionary in its celebration of the culture style politics and physical attributes of peoples of African descent Symbols of the black is beautiful aesthetic most notably the Afro not only conjured up ideas about black beauty but also highlighted its contentious relationship with black politics and identity This tension between beauty standards and black politics and identity however did not first emerge in the late twentieth century with the Afro or the Black Power movement In fact blacks particularly black women have been struggling to navigate the paradoxical political nature of black identity and beauty since their enslavement in the Americas Despite this strained relationship black women have actively sought to define beauty in their lives and in the process created and sustained one of the most resilient and successful black controlled enterprises in America the black beauty ...

Article

Jonathan Morley and Cassandra Adjei

City with historic links to the slave trade. The first guns to be exported to Africa in 1698 were manufactured in Birmingham, renowned for its metalworking; this triggered a growth in the city's industries, and by 1766, 100,000 guns a year were shipped, as well as other tools of the slave trade: manacles, chains, branding irons, thumbscrews, pincers, muzzles, and instruments for prising open the mouths of recalcitrant slaves to make them eat. Cheaply made flintlock muskets, the guns were often dangerous to their users, and contributed to the militarization of the continent: it has been estimated that 20 million went to Africa by 1907.

The city's Lunar Society (a group of freethinkers and radicals) included members who were vehement abolitionists. Thomas Day, from Lichfield, was co‐author with Joseph Bicknell of the poem The Dying Negro (1773 a famous tract that spoke of a ...

Article

Diana L. Hayes

The first African women came to the Americas almost five hundred years ago as free settlers and slaves, speaking French and Spanish. They came as Catholics, Muslims, and followers of traditional African religions. All came bearing a deep and abiding faith in a God of creation, justice, and honor, in whatever way they named God. Their sacred worldview enabled them to survive, sustained by their belief in a “wonder working” God who would, in God’s own time, free them from their captivity.

Article

Diane Batts Morrow

Few people include Roman Catholicism among the religious traditions of African Americans; the existence of black Roman Catholic sisterhoods, or societies of women religious, remains a historical reality unfamiliar to the general public. Nevertheless, between 1828 and 1916 black women in the United States organized several religious communities, three of which remained active even into the twenty-first century. During historical periods particularly hostile to black people in U.S. society—the antebellum and Jim Crow eras, for example, when slavery and legally sanctioned racial discrimination prevailed—devout Catholic women cofounded the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1828; the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1842; and the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary in Savannah, Georgia, in 1916.

These courageous black women pursued religious vocations within a society that too often denied the virtue of all black women From the ...

Article

Tamelyn Tucker-Worgs

Black megachurches are predominantly black Protestant (both denominational and nondenominational) churches that average at least 2,000 congregants attending Sunday services each week. Most black megachurches average between 2,000 and 4,000 in weekly attendance, but a few black megachurches report that more than 10,000 people attend Sunday services. These megachurches compose an important social and ecclesiastical phenomenon. Since the early 1980s at least 150 of them have surfaced in the United States. They are in twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., and are concentrated in metropolitan areas with large numbers of black suburbanites such as Atlanta; Washington, D.C.; Houston; and Los Angeles.

Black megachurches are characterized by their multiple ministries which include traditional church activities such as usher boards choirs and missionary boards They also include nontraditional activities such as drama companies singles groups social and political advocacy forums fitness and weight loss groups and technology training classes as well as providing ...

Article

Humayun Ansari

Evidence of a black Muslim presence in Britain dates back to Tudor and Stuart times. By 1596, so alarmed was Queen Elizabeth I by the growing number of ‘infidel’ ‘Blackamoors’ that she unsuccessfully ordered their expulsion. While many Muslims arrived in England as merchants and traders, others were involuntary residents. In the 1620s North African corsairs operating in English waters were captured, and records testify to a number of Muslims languishing in jails in the south‐west of England. However, a 1641 document suggests the presence in London of a small settled community of Muslims, and by 1725 English society had become well accustomed to their presence. During the 17th and 18th centuries black staff and servants—likely to have been Muslims—accompanied Ottoman emissaries to Britain. Many remained in Britain and Muslims came to form an important element within the ‘permanent’ black population. They included servants (King George I's ...

Article

Jeffrey O. Ogbar and Jeffrey O. G.

Black nationalism is the belief system that endorses the creation of a black nation state It also supports the establishment of black controlled institutions to meet the political social educational economic and spiritual needs of black people independent of nonblacks Celebration of African ancestry and territorial separatism are essential components of black nationalism Though not fully developed into a cogent system of beliefs the impulse of black nationalism finds its earliest expression in the resistance of enslaved Africans to the Atlantic slave trade from the sixteenth century Various groups of Africans who felt no particular organic connection as black people were forced into a new racialized identity in a brutal and dehumanizing process of enslavement The transportation and forced amalgamation of hundreds of different African nationalities resulted in Creolized communities in the Americas enslaved Africans revolted and established new societies which functioned autonomously on the outskirts of colonial towns and ...

Article

Josef Sorett

During the period commonly referred to as the post–civil rights era—starting from the late 1960s and proceeding into the early twenty-first century—two significant cultural developments (among others) emerged simultaneously. With newfound access to the social, cultural, and economic institutions central to American life, black cultural artists achieved a level of (hyper) visibility unimaginable during the previous historical period, when segregation was the law of the land. As part of this shift, hip-hop music and culture emerged and evolved into one of the (if not the most prominent forms of popular culture Similarly paralleling the mainstream political gains achieved by evangelicals a Christian culture industry grew exponentially largely by capitalizing upon the resources attached to media innovations such as cable television and the Internet and reconfigurations of market forces in the era of consumer capitalism The latter advances have enabled the emergence of a new crop of televangelists a number ...

Article

Clarence E. Hardy

When most scholars consider the idea of black religious modernism their thoughts turn to what the professor Dennis Dickerson has called that cadre of black religious thinkers consisting largely of men such as Benjamin Mays Mordecai Johnson George Kelsey and Howard Thurman These leaders were educated in liberal northern seminaries and universities during the 1920s and 1930s and then followed their schooling with careers based in black colleges where committed to the task of racial uplift they trained the next black male elite participated in ecumenical global networks and helped develop theological ideas that would become important touchstones for the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s Like many black intellectuals of that time they avoided as the academic Barbara Savage has explained the conservative social and political instincts they associated with tradition and folk bound rural churches of their youth showing instead tendencies toward the modernism they first ...