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Alice Bernstein

carpenter, newspaper editor, and state representative during Reconstruction, was born free, of “unmixed African blood,” in New Bern, North Carolina, to Israel B. Abbott and Gracie Maria Green. His father died in 1844, and Abbott was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother, Hannah, the wife of Bristow Rue (Rhew). His mother's second husband was Nelson Brown, with whom she had a daughter, Hannah Cora, and stepsons Samuel H. Brown and George M. Brown. She married her third husband, the Reverend Joseph Green, a Methodist Episcopal Zion Church minister, in 1854. When Abbott was four, his grandmother contributed one dollar toward his education, and he attended a school taught by Mrs. Jane Stevens. He went to school regularly until age ten, when he began serving two years as apprentice to a carpenter, completing his trade with his stepfather, Joseph Green ...

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Brenna Sanchez

classical singer, author, gay rights activist, and former literary assistant to writer Langston Hughes, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Abdul's father, Hamid Abdul, was from Calcutta, India, and his mother, Bernice (Shreve) Abdul, was able to trace her ancestry back to the pre-Revolutionary War era. Abdul got his start in theater at a young age, participating in children's theater by age six. He attended John Hay High School and, after graduation, worked as a journalist for the Cleveland Call and Post. He would later go on to earn a diploma from the Vienna Academy of Music in 1962. He also studied at Harvard University, the New School for Social Research, the Cleveland Institute of Music, New York College of Music, and the Mannes College of Music.

In 1951 at age twenty two Abdul relocated to New York City There he began studying music and was ...

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Mpalive Msiska

Nigerian novelist, was born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe on 15 November 1930 at Saint Simon’s Church, Nneobi, near Ogidi, in British colonial Nigeria. His father, Isaiah Okafo Achebe, was a teacher and evangelist and his mother, Janet Anaenechi Iloeghunam, was from the Awka area of eastern Nigeria. Until the age of five, Achebe was brought up at a church school, where his father taught. When his father went into semiretirement in 1935 in Ogidi, Achebe became a child of two worlds, the modern world and the world of indigenous tradition. He began primary school at Saint Philip’s Central School at Akpakaogwe, Ogidi, moving on to Nekede Central School near Owerri in 1942. Achebe developed into a studious young man, passing entrance examinations for two prestigious secondary schools.

It was at Government College Umuahia which had a good library and extremely able and dedicated teachers that Achebe cultivated his love of ...

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Simon Gikandi

Chinua Achebe is considered to be the most influential African novelist of the modern period. Over ten million copies of his first novel, Things Fall Apart, have been sold in the English-speaking world since its publication in 1958. Things Fall Apart which has been translated into over fifty languages is considered to be a seminal work in the making of modern literature and is taught in institutions of education from the elementary to the tertiary level in several continents But Achebe is also a literary and social critic and his pronouncements on a range of subjects from the role of English in Africa the ideologies of colonial criticism and problems of governance and ethics on the continent have been central in debates about postcolonial identities Just as Achebe s novels have shaped the canon of African letters his essays and lectures are indispensible in understanding the promise ...

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Marian Aguiar

Chinua Achebe once described his writing as an attempt to set the historical record straight by showing “that African people did not hear of culture for the first time from Europeans; that their societies were not mindless but frequently had a philosophy of great depth and value and beauty, that they had poetry and, above all, they had dignity.” Achebe's works portray Nigeria's communities as they pass through the trauma of colonization into a troubled nationhood. In bringing together the political and the literary, he neither romanticizes the culture of the indigenous nor apologizes for the colonial.

Achebe's own upbringing spanned the indigenous and colonial worlds. Born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe to an Igbo family active in the Christian church, he grew up in the rural village of Ogidi, in eastern Nigeria At a young age he received a coveted scholarship to Government College in Umuahia where he studied alongside ...

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Miguel Algarín was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. His family emigrated from Puerto Rico to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, when he was nine years old. The Lower East Side's Latin urban landscape served as the foundation for his literary career. Algarín obtained his B.A. in romance languages from the University of Wisconsin in 1963 and his M.A. in English literature from Pennsylvania State University in 1965. He completed his doctoral studies in comparative literature at Rutgers University. He served as an instructor at Brooklyn College and New York University before becoming an assistant professor and chair of the Puerto Rican Studies department at Rutgers University. He is currently a professor emeritus at Rutgers.

While Algarín is a popular educator he is best known as one of the most active authors in the Puerto Rican poetic movement that flourished in New York City in the ...

Article

William E. Bankston

Hebraic scholar, author, anointed spiritual leader of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, was born Ben Carter in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of six children of Rena and Levi Carter. Little is known about Ben's mother and father.

As a young teenager, Carter was a gregarious person, very communicative, and he knew how to vocally motivate people. Growing up, he worked a variety of odd jobs, dusting chairs, collecting garbage, running errands, delivering groceries, and shining shoes.

Around 1959 he married Patricia Price, but nothing more has been documented about his wife or possible children. As things began to intensify during the Vietnam War, Carter joined the U.S. Army. By 1960 after serving about a year and a half of military duty he was assigned to an army missile base in Chicago Becoming more perceptive and grown up Carter began to display a working knowledge of world affairs ...

Article

Roberto Conduru

was born on 15 November 1940, the son of Guilhermina Alves and Vital Araújo. His full name is Emanoel Alves de Araújo; he was born into a traditional family of goldsmiths in Santo Amaro da Purificação, in Bahia, Brazil. There, he learned carpentry with master Eufrásio Vargas, worked with linotype and typesetting in the official press, and held his first exhibition in 1959.

In the 1960s, he moved to Salvador, where he majored in printmaking at the Federal University of Bahia, in 1965. Since then, he has held solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions held in Brazil and abroad.

His artistic work has explored the transformation of traditional artistic media from chromatic and three dimensional experiments with printmaking his work unfolded in sculptures some of them displayed in public spaces His work has also promoted the articulation of African descended cultures with constructivist principles and forms ...

Article

Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

In 1982, Houston Baker wrote “[O]nce I had abandoned my graduate school plans to write definitive critiques of British Victorian literature and turned to black American literature, ‘cultural nationalism’ became the ideologically determined project in my intellectual life.” Thus, Baker began a groundbreaking career that would take him through the cultural nationalism of the Black Arts movement, the post-structuralist and deconstructionist discourse of the 1980s, and black feminist criticism in the 1990s to studies of masculinity, rap, and the Academy. With works like Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory, Baker shaped black aesthetic discourse, becoming one of the most incisive theorists of African American literature and culture.

Born in 1943, Houston Baker was educated at Howard University (BA in 1965) and the University of California–Los Angeles, where he received his PhD in 1968 He has taught at Cornell Yale Duke ...

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Michael Awkward

In an October 1985Pennsylvania Gazette profile, Houston A. Baker, Jr., speaks of his intellectual journey from graduate studies in late-Victorian literature to the then relatively uncharted field of African American literature as “a great awakening and a conversion experience rolled into one.” Baker's blues journey home has resulted in the field's richest, most consistently probing body of work, and has established him as one of a handful of preeminent scholars of American literature to have emerged in the wake of the civil rights movement struggles of the 1960s.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Baker matriculated at Howard University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and then earned a PhD in English at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1968. After brief stints at Yale University, the site of his conversion, and the University of Virginia, Baker moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1974 ...

Article

Carmen Rosario

was born on 4 July 1897 in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, one of twelve children of José Celso Barbosa, among the most prominent Puerto Rican politicians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Belen Sanchez. Pilar received her primary and secondary education in her hometown, where early on she was immersed in politics. Her father, a black man who graduated first in his class at the University of Michigan, was a leader of the autonomist movement that demanded autonomy for Puerto Rico from the Spanish government at the end of the nineteenth century as well as the founder of the Partido Republicano (Republican Party) in 1899, which advocated statehood for Puerto Rico following the American invasion of the island the prior year. After graduating from high school, Pilar attended the University of Puerto Rico. While still an undergraduate, in 1921 she became the first woman and certainly ...

Article

Maria Lucia Cacciato

was born on 18 December 1962 in Retén Magdalena (Colombia), the son of a family of humble fishermen. He attended school until the fifth grade, and as an adolescent he worked selling fish in a market plaza in order to earn a living and support himself as a boxer. After working hard to succeed in boxing and finding success on various stages in the Americas, he was crowned world champion in the flyweight division on 13 February 1987, after defeating the Panamanian boxer Hilario Zapata. Two months later he defended his title against the Irish boxer Dave McAuley. Bassa retained the world title only until 1989, when he was defeated by the Venezuelan boxer Jesús Rojas. Critics said he was a disciplined and brave boxer, although he had little technique.

After retiring from his athletic career Bassa worked selling books and he became a successful publishing entrepreneur The ...

Article

Jeff Loeb

Barry Beckham began his first novel, My Main Mother (1969), while he was a senior at Brown University, completing it while living in New York City. He returned to Brown in 1970 as a visiting lecturer in English and, after being appointed to a professorship, remained there for seventeen years, several as director of the graduate creative writing program. In 1972, his second novel, Runner Mack, was nominated for the National Book Award, and his play Garvey Lives! was produced in Providence. In 1974, he was commissioned to write a biography of New York playground basketball legend Earl Manigault. The book The book was published in 1981 as a “novelized biography,” Double Dunk. In 1987, Beckham moved to Washington, D.C., teaching at Hampton University for two years. Partly because of difficulties with publishers over another of his projects, The Black Student s Guide ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

real estate developer, publisher, insurance broker, architect, and philanthropist, was born in Stock Township, Harrison County, Ohio, the son of William Blue and Adeline L. Blue, who married in Ohio in 1863. His father, a farm laborer, was born in Virginia in 1843 and may have been at one time enslaved to Thomas Blue in Hampshire County. He may also have been related to Thomas Fountain Blue, an acclaimed librarian in Louisville, Kentucky. Blue's mother was born in Ohio in 1845, to parents also born in Virginia. He had an older brother, William Benjamin, born in 1864, and a younger brother, Richard J., born in 1871. During the 1870s the family moved to New Philadelphia in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, where William Blue worked as a teamster.

Welcome T. Blue found work in Canton Ohio around 1889 where he lived ...

Article

Lisa Mott

clubwoman, civil rights activist, and editor, was born Sue M. Wilson in Staunton, Virginia, the eldest child of Marian Harris, a homemaker, and Jacob Wilson, a recruiting agent for the mining industry. When Wilson was young, the family moved to Muchakinock, Iowa, where she received her early education. They eventually relocated to Oskaloosa, Iowa, where Wilson graduated from high school. A lifelong member of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Wilson became superintendent of the Muchakinock Sunday School at the age of twenty-three. This position led to her election as district superintendent of the church schools, where she gained valuable organizational experience.

On 31 December 1902 Wilson married S. Joe Brown an attorney in Muchakinock who had just opened an office in Des Moines Iowa where the couple settled into a life of activism Sue Wilson Brown immediately became involved in the club movement beginning a lifetime of ...

Article

E. Renée Ingram

educator, journalist, and lecturer, was born in Washington, D.C., the only child of Josephine Beall Willson Bruce and the U.S. senator Blanche Kelso Bruce, a Republican of Mississippi. When Senator Bruce was to take his oath of office, Mississippi's senior senator James Alcorn refused to escort him to the front of the Senate chamber. An embarrassing silence fell over the chamber until Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York extended his arm to Senator Bruce and escorted him forward. Senator Bruce was so grateful for the courtesy that he named his son for the gentleman from the Empire State.

Roscoe Conkling Bruce Sr. attended the M Street High School in Washington, D.C., and subsequently spent two years (1896–1898 at the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter New Hampshire He won distinction in scholarship and journalism was a member of the Golden Branch the oldest debating society in country ...

Article

John Henrik Clarke was a central figure in late-twentieth-century vernacular American black nationalism. As a teacher, writer, and popular public speaker, he emphasized black pride, the African heritage—especially communalism—and black solidarity. From the rural South he rode a freight train to the North, where he actively participated in the literary and political life of Harlem, New York in the 1930s. Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, the black bibliophile, was a major intellectual influence. Largely self-educated, Clarke became professor of Africana and Puerto Rican Studies at New York's Hunter College and president of Sankofa University, an on-line Internet school.

Born to sharecropping parents, Clarke grew up in Columbus, Georgia, and aspired to be a writer. He produced poetry, short stories (notably “The Boy Who Painted Christ Black”), and books on African history (The Lives of Great African Chiefs) and on Africans in the diaspora (Harlem U.S.A An original member ...

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Christopher Williams

scholar and activist, was born John Henry Clark in Union Springs, Alabama, the first of five children to John Clark and Willella (Willie) Mays, sharecroppers. Later Clarke changed the spelling of his name, dropping the “y” in Henry and replacing it with “ik” after the Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen. He also added an “e” at the end of Clarke.

Clarke s great grandmother Mary who lived to be 108 inspired him to study history The young Clarke sat on her lap listening to stories and it was through her he later said that he first became aware of the word Africa Clarke grew up in the Baptist church and wanted to satisfy his intellectual curiosity regarding the Bible and its relationship to African people Like a detective he searched the Bible looking for an image of God that looked like him His dissatisfaction with what he found later ...

Article

Rochell Isaac

educator, nationalist, Pan-Africanist, writer, historian, and poet. Born John Henry Clark to Willie Ella Mays and John Clark, a sharecropper, Clarke changed his name, legalizing Henry to Henrik and adding an “e” to Clark, thereby cementing his admiration of the Scandinavian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The Clark family moved from Union Springs, Alabama, to Columbus, Georgia, when Clarke was four years old. Clarke's mother, a laundrywoman, died of pellagra, a diet deficiency, when Clarke was still very young. With his mother's illness and subsequent death, the Clark family began to feel the effects of poverty.

Though he clearly demonstrated academic ability along with a strong desire to learn and excel Clarke s academic goals encountered much resistance As a teenager Clarke held a number of menial jobs he was a part time student and a part time farmer and worker As a result he ...

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Beverly Lanier Skinner

scholar, professor, and cultural critic, was born in Hampton, Virginia, the youngest of nine siblings in one of Hampton's most socially prominent black families. His father, Andrew Davis, born a slave, was an 1872 graduate of Hampton Institute and was the “leading plasterer and plastering contractor in Hampton” (Negro History Bulletin, Jan. 1950). He and his wife, Frances S. Nash, were strict disciplinarians who taught their children to refuse any form of charity during the difficult Depression era and to refuse menial job offers from whites. Davis's parents also taught him high standards of decorum, including not eating watermelon, not shelling peas on the front porch, and avoiding “emotional excesses” (for example, “shouting” in church and talking loudly), he recalled in a 1944 essay called “When I Was in Knee Pants” (47).

Davis s parents sent him to the ...