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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

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

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

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

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 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 ...

Article

Donna M. Wells

photographer, journalist, and diplomat, was born on the campus of Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University), in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Oglethorpe Laboratory Elementary School, a practice school on the campus. Davis's professional career began in high school and continued until his retirement in 1985. He was first introduced to photography by William (Bill) Brown, an instructor at the Atlanta University Laboratory High School where Davis was a student. Throughout high school and later as a student at Morehouse, Davis supported himself through photography assignments from local newspapers and public relations firms.

Davis's college education was suspended in 1944 when he joined the armed forces during World War II and fought with the Ninety-second Infantry Division in Italy. After his tour, Griffith returned to Atlanta in 1946 and continued his college studies. He befriended writer and professor Langston Hughes and civil rights activist and ...

Article

Juan-Carlos Goilo

was born in Kralendijk, on the island of Bonaire, on 4 May 1902. He was brought up in Bonaire, Curaçao, and Venezuela by his Protestant Swiss father, a colonial plantation owner named Jean Jacques Debrot, and his Catholic Venezuelan mother, Maria Antoinette Clemence Nouel. He started writing at a very early age and published his first collection of poems in 1918. He studied law in the Netherlands in 1921, and in 1928 moved to Paris, where he lived for three years and worked as a ghostwriter. In 1931 Debrot returned to the Netherlands to study medicine. He is considered a pioneer of Dutch Antillean literature.

Debrot s writing emerged during his years in Europe He was exposed to quite a number of artists One could imagine other Caribbean figures such as Aimé Césaire moving in similar artistic circles In Paris he was a friend of pamphleteer Louis ...

Article

Steven Leikin

diplomat, preacher, and author, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Sallie Montgomery. Nothing is known of his biological father. His mother, however, was an African American, and Dennis was of mixed race parentage. In 1897 he was adopted by Green Dennis, a contractor, and Cornelia Walker. During his youth Dennis was known as the “mulatto child evangelist,” and he preached to church congregations in the African American community of Atlanta before he was five years old. By the age of fifteen he had toured churches throughout the United States and England and addressed hundreds of thousands of people.

Despite his success as an evangelist Dennis had ambitions to move beyond this evangelical milieu. In 1913, unschooled but unquestionably bright, he applied to Phillips Exeter Academy and gained admission. He graduated within two years and in 1915 entered Harvard.

Dennis s decisions to ...

Article

Claudy Delné

was born on 11 March 1911 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, into a family of the petty bourgeoisie. He was the son of Edith Lahens and Hénec Dorsinville, a lawyer and a government employee. Dorsinville grew up during the US military occupation of Haiti. He was only 4 years old when he witnessed an angry mob dragging the corpse of Haitian President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam through the streets of the capital city. This singular event in Haitian politics was used as pretext for the US military intervention in 1915.

Dorsinville’s father was the owner of the literary magazine L’Essor It was through this journal and under the rigorous mentorship of his father that the younger Dorsinville made his very first attempts at writing and literary reviews Although he attended the most elite schools in Port au Prince including Les Démoiselles Gardère Petit Séminaire Collège St Martial les Frères Saint Louis ...

Article

Thomas M. Leonard

diplomat, lawyer, and journalist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Durham and Elizabeth Stephens. Two of his uncles, Clayton Durham and Jeremiah Durham, were noted clergymen who helped Bishop Richard Allen establish the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Durham, who could almost pass for white, studied in the Philadelphia public schools and graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth in 1876.

For five years after leaving high school Durham taught in Delaware and Pennsylvania. In 1881 he entered Towne Scientific School, a branch of the University of Pennsylvania, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in 1886 and a civil engineering degree in 1888. He held several positions during his college career, including reporter for the Philadelphia Times. He excelled as a newspaperman, and his unique abilities eventually led him to the assistant editorship of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin ...

Article

John E. Fleming and Rayford W. Logan

Born in Weston, Platte County, Missouri, George Washington Ellis was the son of George and Amanda Jane (Drace) Ellis. He studied in the Weston elementary schools and the high school in Atchison, Kansas. He received his bachelor of law degree from the University of Kansas in 1893 and was admitted to the Kansas bar. From 1893 to 1897 he practiced law in Kansas to defray the expenses of four years in the university's collegiate department, and received his bachelor of arts degree in 1897. In that same year, he moved to New York City, where he took a two-year course in the Gunton Institute of Economics and Sociology.

After passing the examination of the United States Census Board in 1899, Ellis received an appointment in the Census Division of the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. where he remained two years Here his spare ...

Article

Vernon J. Williams

lawyer and social scientist, was born in Weston Platt County, Missouri, the son of George Ellis, a farmer, and Amanda Jane Trace. George Ellis left home after completing elementary school, primarily because Weston Platt County could not provide him with the education or training he desired. He moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he found greater educational opportunities but increased racial hostilities. As a consequence, he soon moved to Atkinson, Kansas, where he completed high school in 1891. Ellis continued his education at the law school at the University of Kansas, receiving an LLB in 1893. While practicing law Ellis pursued a BA at Kansas; it is not known, however, if he completed the requirements for the degree. While at the University of Kansas he was active in Republican politics and debated in Kansas's McKinley Club.

Ellis moved to New York City in 1897 where ...

Article

David M. Carletta

Anténor Joseph Firmin was born in Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti. He was a gifted child who attended Haiti's premier preparatory schools. After studying law, Firmin became the inspector of schools in Cap-Haïtien. He married Rosa Salnave, daughter of the former president Sylvain Salnave, in 1881. Two years later the government of Haiti sent Firmin to France as a diplomat. He was admitted to the Anthropological Society of Paris and became perhaps the first scholar of African descent to write a systematic work of anthropology.

In 1885 he published The Equality of the Human Races, a response to Count Arthur de Gobineau's four-volume set The Inequality of Human Races and to the racialist anthropology of the nineteenth century. Published between 1853 and 1855 de Gobineau s famous work was the first to assert the racial superiority of Aryan peoples while simultaneously reinforcing ideas of black inferiority Firmin ...