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Benjamin R. Justesen

journalist and public official, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the younger son of the Reverend Henry and Margaret Priscilla (Corbin) Adams. Their father administered a respected school in Louisville. Cyrus and his older brother, John Quincy Adams (1848–1922), received excellent educations, Cyrus graduating from preparatory school and college at Oberlin College. In 1877 Cyrus began to teach in the Louisville public schools, and soon pooled savings with his brother to open the weekly Louisville Bulletin. They ran the newspaper until 1885, when it was acquired by the American Baptist newspaper owned by William Henry Steward, chairman of trustees at State University, a black Baptist university in Louisville, where Cyrus taught German. Already a dedicated traveler, Cyrus had spent much of 1884 in Europe, and was also fluent in Italian, French, and Spanish.

Both brothers had served as Louisville correspondents for the Western Appeal ...

Article

Baye Yimam

Ethiopian painter, diplomat, customs director, entrepreneur, linguist, university professor, and novelist, was born in Zage, Gojjam province of Ethiopia, on 10 July 1868. His father, Gebre Iyesus Denke, was a priest serving a local church, and his mother, Fenta Tehun Adego Ayechew, was presumably a housewife. In Zage, then a center of learning, Afewerq learned the painting, poetry, church music, and liturgical dancing of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian tradition.

Afewerq was related to Empress Taytu Betul, wife of Emperor Menilek (1844–1913 on account of which he was brought to the palace to continue what he had started in Zage He was later sent to Italy to further his studies at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti in Turin Upon his return from Italy he began to produce mural paintings by order of the palace and decorated the churches at Entotto then the capital city However he soon ...

Article

lawyer, businessman, and secretary of the army, was born in New York City, the only child of Clifford Leopold Sr. and Edith McAllister. Alexander's father, a Jamaican native, became an apartment building manager of Harlem's Young Christian Association. His mother was from Yonkers, New York, where she worked for a real estate firm. Later she headed the New York City welfare department. She was the first African American woman to get elected to the Democratic Party's Electoral College. In this position she became a prominent figure in the broader civil rights struggle. Both parents inspired Alexander's later work to end racial discrimination.

Alexander spent his childhood in New York City. He received his early education at the Ethical Cultural School and Fieldston Schools in the Bronx. After graduating from high school, Alexander went to Harvard University. Here he met McGeorge Bundy Harvard s Dean of Arts ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

journalist, war correspondent, railway mail clerk, and postal worker union activist, whose career rebounded repeatedly from the impact of his abrasive style on supervisors and fellow workers, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, the son of Trezzvant E. Anderson and Amanda (Dixon) Anderson. In 1930 he and his sister, Roberta Anderson, were living in Charlotte with a stepfather, Robert Alexander, who was born in Virginia.

Trezzvant Anderson enrolled at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte in 1921, where he edited the campus paper, the University Student. He left in 1927, a year short of graduation, and worked as a railway mail clerk in Charlotte and in Washington, D.C., until 1941, while also taking on a variety of writing assignments. He was contributing editor of the Charlotte Post (1928–1929), special feature writer for the Norfolk, Virginia, Journal and Guide ...

Article

Francisco Ortega

Jorge Artel, whose real name was Agapito de Arcos, was born in Colombia, in the colonial city of Cartagena de Indias, once the major entryway for slaves into the Spanish colonies in South America. He grew up surrounded by the drumbeats of the cumbia music, slavery's violent legacies, and the history of resistance embodied in the many maroon communities that dotted the city's borders. In his poetry he evokes those images, especially, as Lawrence Prescott has noted, using the symbol of the drum as the unifying thread essential to the black experience in the Americas. Like other black poets in Spanish America, such as the Afro-Peruvian Nicomedes Santa Cruz (1925–1992) and the Cuban Nicolás Guillén (1902–1989 Artel does not single out race alone as the defining element that has shaped his life and his aesthetic vision For him as for the others class ...

Article

Born in Sanford, Florida, Claude Barnett was sent at a very young age to live with his grandparents and other relatives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. He returned to the South to study engineering at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), from which he graduated in 1906. Back in Chicago, he worked as a postal clerk and, exposed to a wide range of advertising journals, decided to make a career in advertising. In 1913 he produced a series of photographs of famous blacks, which he sold through the mail, furthering his interest in business.

Five years later Barnett and several other entrepreneurs formed the Kashmir Chemical Company which sold cosmetics Barnett left the post office took the job of advertising manager at Kashmir and toured the country selling cosmetics as well as his photographs In each town he visited the local black newspaper hoping to bargain for ...

Article

Robert L. Harris

entrepreneur, journalist, and government adviser, was born in Sanford, Florida, the son of William Barnett, a hotel worker, and Celena Anderson. His father worked part of the year in Chicago and the rest of the time in Florida. Barnett's parents separated when he was young, and he lived with his mother's family in Oak Park, Illinois, where he attended school. His maternal ancestors were free blacks who migrated from Wake County, North Carolina, to the black settlement of Lost Creek, near Terre Haute, Indiana, during the 1830s. They then moved to Mattoon, Illinois, where Barnett's maternal grandfather was a teacher and later a barbershop owner, and finally to Oak Park. While attending high school in Oak Park, Barnett worked as a houseboy for Richard W. Sears cofounder of Sears Roebuck and Company Sears offered him a job with the company after he graduated from high school but ...

Article

Geoffrey Roper

Egyptian poet, diplomat, military commander, and politician, was born in Cairo on 6 October 1839. His family claimed descent from a medieval Mamluk royal line, but his surname (nisba) refers to the district of Ityay al-Barud in Lower Egypt, of which his ancestors had once been tax farmers (multazims). His father, an artillery officer under Muhammad Ali, died in Sudan when al-Barudi was only seven years old. After primary education, al-Barudi entered the Military Training School in Cairo, in 1851, and graduated from it in 1855 with the rank of bash-jawish (sergeant-major). During the reign of the viceroy Saʿid (r. 1854–1863), he served in Istanbul as a diplomat and during this time acquired a lifelong enthusiasm for literature.

In 1863 the new viceroy, Ismaʿil (r. 1863–1879 visited Istanbul and recruited al Barudi as commander of his Viceregal Guard in Cairo with the ...

Article

Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

Dantès Bellegarde was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1877. His family had long been at the center of Haitian politics. Bellegarde's mother was Marie Boisson and his father Jean-Louis Bellegarde. His maternal great-grandfather, Jacques Ignace Fresnel, was named judge by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution, who became the first leader of the independent state in 1804 and soon proclaimed himself Emperor Jean-Jacques I. This same great-grandfather was later minister of justice under President Jean-Pierre Boyer, who ruled all of Haiti from 1820 to 1843. Bellegarde's paternal grandfather, Jean-Louis de Bellegarde, was a duke and marshal in Haiti's second empire during the rule of Faustin Soulouque, who declared himself emperor and ruled from 1847 to 1859. Bellegarde's aunt, Argentine Bellegarde (1842–1901), was a noted educator and an early feminist. Bellegarde married Cécile Savain (1875–1965 ...

Article

Geoffrey Roper

Moroccan Arabic writer, journalist, and diplomat (not to be confused with the francophone writer Abdelmajid Benjelloun, born in 1944), was born in Casablanca. At the age of five months, he was taken by his parents to Manchester, where his father worked as a merchant. He attended primary school there, and became the darling of a small community of immigrants. The loss of both his mother and his sister while he was still young had a profound effect on him, reinforced by his reading of Charles Dickens; the emotional consequences of this loss can be found in his writings.

He returned to Morocco with his father at the age of nine They took up residence in Fez where Bin Jallun received his secondary education and then enrolled in the ancient Islamic university of the Qarawiyin The pervasive atmosphere there was one of traditional Arabic learning and culture and this made a ...

Article

Thomas Adams Upchurch

One of the most polarizing political figures in American history, James Gillespie Blaine, “the Plumed Knight of Maine,” was the most prominent presidential candidate of the late nineteenth century never to be elected. His chameleon-like character kept him at the top of the Republican Party machinery during both Reconstruction and the Gilded Age. He supported the Union during the Civil War and the Radical cause in the late 1860s, took a conciliatory view of the southern question in the early 1870s, and ultimately all but abandoned the African American civil rights agenda in the late 1870s and thereafter. As much as any other Republican, he influenced the course of the party in selling out African Americans after Reconstruction for the joint benefits of sectional reconciliation and national business interests. He did so, however, without necessarily alienating black voters or friends. Frederick Douglass for instance supported him throughout his career ...

Article

Curtis Jacobs

was born on 3 August 1832 in St. Thomas, Danish West Indies (today, the US Virgin Islands). He was the third of seven children born to Romeo Blyden, a tailor, and Judith Blyden, a teacher, a free black married couple in a Danish colony where the majority of Africans were still enslaved. Members of an integrated congregation of the Dutch Reformed Church, the Blydens moved briefly to Venezuela in 1842, where, in addition to discovering an aptitude for languages, Blyden observed that most of the emancipated Africans in that country were not far removed from chattel slavery.

Wilmot became a student of the Reverend John Knox of the Dutch Reformed Church upon his family’s return to St. Thomas in 1844. Impressed with his academic potential, Knox encouraged Wilmot in 1850 to travel to the United States with a view to gaining admission into the Rutgers Theological College ...

Article

Diane Mutti Burke

author of a slave narrative, was born to slave parents in Prince Edward County, Virginia. The Lemuel Bruce family, including Pettis and Rebecca (Bruce) Perkinson, owned Henry Bruce and his mother and siblings. Bruce's many siblings included his younger brother, Blanche Kelso Bruce, the senator from Mississippi from 1875 to 1881.

Bruce spent most of his early childhood years on plantations and farms in Virginia, Missouri, and—briefly—Mississippi. Pettis Perkinson brought Bruce, his mother, and siblings back to Chariton County, Missouri, where he permanently settled in 1850 From the age of nine Bruce was frequently hired out to other employers in the community and worked at a variety of occupations including brick making tobacco manufacturing and general farm labor Bruce had a self described desire to learn and was taught to read by his young owner and playmate William Perkinson The older Bruce children taught their younger siblings ...

Article

José Manuel Batista

was born Manuel Cabral Tavárez in Santiago de los Caballeros on 7 March 1907. His father was Mario Fermín Cabral y Baez, who was infamously close to President Rafael Leonidas Trujillo as president of the Senate and coiner of the moniker Ciudad Trujillo (Trujillo City), given to the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo de Guzmán, from 1936 to 1961. Cabral’s mother was Amelia Tavárez Saviñón, a well-known socialite of Santiago, but he was raised by his maternal aunt Carmita “Cacán” Tavárez. Cabral had two presidents, several generals, and notable powerbrokers of the Santiago elite in his family tree. He was a versatile poet who gained renown early in his career for depicting, in verse, the harsh social realities endured by the Dominican rural poor, Haitians, and cocolos black migrants from the English and French Antilles that sought work in the sugar mills of the Dominican ...

Article

Arlene Lazarowitz

newspaper publisher and ambassador, was born in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, the son of William Beverly Carter and Maria Green. After a childhood spent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Carter graduated in 1944 from Lincoln University, a historically black institution in Pennsylvania. As a student he was a member of Alpha Boule, Sigma Pi Phi, and Kappa Alpha Psi, and he served as executive secretary of the alumni association from 1952 to 1955. He attended Temple University Law School from 1946 to 1947 and the New School for Social Research from 1950 to 1951.

Early in his professional career, from 1943 to 1945, Carter worked as a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune. He was city editor of the Philadelphia Afro-American from 1945 to 1948 and publisher of the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper group from 1955 to 1964. In 1958 he served as president of the National Newspaper Publishers ...

Article

Mary K. Addis

was born on 25 October 1929 in Bluefields, Nicaragua, then the capital of the department of Zelaya, and now the capital of Nicaragua’s South Atlantic Autonomous Region. His father, Belarmino Chávez Saballos, originally from the Department of Chontales, worked as a tax collector. His mother, Ramona Alfaro Casco, a native of Bluefields, was a homemaker. Chávez Alfaro completed his primary and secondary education in Bluefields. His mentor, Santos Cermeño, encouraged him to develop his skills as a painter and arranged for his first and only art exhibit, which was held in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, and earned him a scholarship to study art at the Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City.

He traveled to Mexico in 1948 at the young age of 19 and continued to live in Mexico either in the capital or in the city of Veracruz for twenty eight years He completed his master s ...

Article

Paulette Poujol-Oriol

Massillon Coicou is considered one of the greatest poets in Haitian literature. His works include intimate love poems (Passions) as well as poems with nationalist themes (Poésies Nationales). His poem “Impressions” reflects the metaphysical preoccupations of the author. His two theatrical plays, Féfé Candidat and Féfé Ministre, offer a caustic tableau of Haitian politics, in which Coicou revealed his lack of consideration for political puppets. Other works include Oracle (1893), Liberté (1894), The Son of Toussaint Louverture (1895), and Emperor Dessalines (1906).

Born in Port-au-Prince, Coicou studied at the religious institution of the Frères de l'Instruction Chrétienne (in Saint Louis de Gonzague) and then at the Lycée National. After serving in the army, he worked as a public servant and as a teacher.

President Tiresias Simon Sam on friendly terms with Coicou s family appointed Coicou ...

Article

Paulette A. Ramsay

was born and raised in the Afro-Caribbean community of Santiago de Cuba, to descendants of black Haitian immigrants. He moved to Havana to pursue a degree in agronomy at the University of Havana. He later abandoned this pursuit to develop his interest in writing and promote Afro-Cuban culture. He published widely as a journalist and researcher and as a writer of several collections of poetry. His anthologies of poems include Las canciones de los héroes (1974), El último trovador (1975), Con el mismo violín (1970), De antaño (1979), Las islas y las luciérnagas (1974), Leyenda del amor (1986), Balada de un tambor y otros poemas (1987), Concierto de jazz (1994), Como una serenata (1988), and El poeta también estaba en la fiesta (1999 Cos Causse has gained the most attention ...

Article

Angela Figueiredo

was born on 11 February 1923 in Estancia, in the state of Sergipe, Brazil. He was the son of poor and illiterate parents, and the first member of his family to experience upward mobility.

Dantas learned how to read and write at age 16, when he started working in a printing press that published the newspapers of Sergipe. For Afro-Brazilians like Dantas, social mobility often occurred through “whitening,” by which some blacks became associated with a network of white people and basically started to live in the white world. The life of Dantas illustrates this trend. Through the influence of the new friends whom he cultivated during this period, he became a regular writer for the newspaper Símbolo in 1941 when he was just 18 years old That same year Dantas moved to Rio de Janeiro where he worked at other newspapers as well gaining access to many renowned ...

Article

Leonel Delgado Aburto

was born Félix Rubén García Sarmiento in the small town of Metapa, now known as Ciudad Darío, Nicaragua, on 18 January 1867. Known primarily by his pen name, Rubén Darío, he was the leader of modernismo, the most important literary movement produced in Latin America at the end of the nineteenth century. A gifted and famous poet, Darío was also a remarkable journalist, short-story writer, and diplomat. He was the child of the failed marriage between Manuel García and Rosa Sarmiento, and was raised by a great-aunt (Bernarda Sarmiento) and her husband (army colonel Félix Ramírez) in León, a city that was the traditional stronghold of political liberalism in Nicaragua in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His ancestry was a mix of European, indigenous, and African descent.

In his early poetry Darío expressed some radical positions including condemning the authoritarianism of the pope In the provincial environment of ...