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Melissa Castillo-Garsow

was born Maymie Leona Turpeau De Mena in 1891, to Isabella Regist and Francisco Hiberto De Mena in San Carlos, Nicaragua. She was raised in an upper-middle-class family—her father was the government minister of lands in San Carlos—and was privately educated. De Mena traveled to the United States in 1913–1914 and 1917–1925. She was employed as a clerk-stenographer and teacher before she began her career in Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) as an interpreter, lecturer, organizer, and journalist. Originally, she joined the Chicago chapter of the UNIA, serving as one of their delegates to the national convention in 1924.

Although in 1925 she was still listed as part of the Chicago UNIA, following her participation at the 1924 convention De Mena was tapped by Garvey to accompany George Emonei Carter and Henrietta Vinton Davis on the SS Goethals when it toured the Caribbean to ...

Article

Nathan L. Grant

is the pseudonym of Black Theater movement playwright Ed Bullins for the publication of We Righteous Bombers in the anthology New Plays from the Black Theatre (1969) and the play's production at the New Lafayette Theatre in Harlem in May of 1969.

New Plays from the Black Theatre lists Kingsley B. Bass, Jr., as “a 24-year-old Black man murdered by Detroit police during the uprising,” but in a panel discussion of We Righteous Bombers at the New Lafayette Theatre (11 May 1969), playwright Marvin X reported that Bullins in fact wrote the play and used the pseudonym “to suggest the type of play that a brother killed in the Detroit Revolution would have written.” Bass, who never existed, seemed able to achieve for himself a fine, if ironic, honor: a small notice by Larry Neal printed below prefatory notes to the panel discussion which ...

Article

Jonathan Morley

Journalist and activist born to wealthy parents, against whom she rebelled. Cunard became a well‐known figure in the London modernist movement, and throughout the busiest period in her career, the 1930s, was a controversial advocate of black emancipation in the United States and Africa.

At 855 pages long, weighing nearly 8 pounds, with 150 contributors, the NEGRO anthology of 1934 was Cunard's most ambitious publication: a collection of essays, polemics, and poetry from France, Britain, and America designed to highlight the vibrancy of the black world and to lobby for black freedom. Writers of interest include the future African presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Pan‐Africanists George Padmore and W. E. B. DuBois, the black modernist novelist Zora Neale Hurston, and the poets Nicolás Guillen, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Countee Cullen, Alain Locke, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound who ...

Article

Ula Y. Taylor

Garvey, Amy Euphemia Jacques (31 December 1896–25 July 1973), journalist, Pan-Africanist, and the second wife of black nationalist Marcus Garvey, journalist, Pan-Africanist, and the second wife of black nationalist Marcus Garvey was born in Kingston Jamaica the daughter of George Samuel Jacques a property owner and Charlotte maiden name unknown Amy Jacques s family was rooted in the Jamaican middle class thus she was formally educated at Wolmer s Girls School an elite institution in Jamaica As a young woman she suffered from ailing health due to recurring bouts with malaria In need of a cooler climate she emigrated to the United States in 1917 and settled in New York City where she had relatives After hearing contradictory reports about the Universal Negro Improvement Association UNIA recently founded by Garvey she attended a meeting in Harlem She was intrigued by the organization and in 1918 became ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

journalist and Pan-Africanist, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, the daughter of George Samuel Jacques, a cigar manufacturer and landlord, and Charlotte Henrietta, a member of the Jamaican aristocracy. Amy's family traced their ancestry on the island back to John Jacques, a white property owner and the first mayor of Kingston. She grew up as part of the “brown elite,” who were considered socially and economically superior to the black majority. After completing her secondary education at the exclusive Wolmer's Girls School, Amy worked in the law office of T. R. MacMillian for four years and had thoughts of becoming a lawyer. However, in April 1917 she left Jamaica for New York, arguing that the cooler climate would mitigate her recurring bouts of malaria.

Amy Jacques arrived in Harlem, the Mecca for ambitious Caribbean immigrants—particularly those animated by the new black nationalist philosophy of Marcus Garvey In the summer ...

Article

Andrew Smith

author, former gang member, was born Kody Scott in south central Los Angeles, the fifth of six children of Birdie M. Scott and the only one fathered by professional football player Dick Bass. Shakur was the godson of musician Ray Charles. He was a formative member of the Crip gang from the age of eleven. He joined his set (chapter) of the Crips, the Eight-Tray Gangsters, in June 1975.

The Eight-Tray Gangsters organized in 1974, but the Crip gang to which they belonged began in the wake of the 1965 Watts rebellion. The riots in Watts exposed police brutality and aggravated racial tensions in south central Los Angeles. Between 1968 and 1969Raymond Washington founded the Crips at Fremont High School in Watts and persuaded Stanley “Tookie” Williams and “Godfather” Jimel Barnes from Washington High School in Los Angeles to follow Barnes affirmed that ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Born to a free family but orphaned at the age of five, Maria Stewart lived with the family of a clergyman until the age of fifteen. She acquired literacy and a religious education at Sabbath schools. Stewart married James Stewart on August 10, 1826, in Boston, Massachusetts. After her husband's death in 1829, Stewart worked through the 1860s as a teacher in the public school systems of New York City, Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. In Washington she established a Sunday school for children in 1871 and worked and lived at the Howard University–affiliated Freedmen's Hospital for the last nine years of her life.

Stewart's two-year speaking career began in 1832 and included four lectures, all published in William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist newspaper, the Liberator. Her lecture to the New England Anti-Slavery Society on September 21, 1832 was the first public lecture ...

Article

Marilyn Richardson

Maria Stewart was the earliest known American woman to lecture in public on political themes and leave extant copies of her texts. Her first publication, a twelve-page pamphlet entitled Religion and the Pure Principles of Morality (1831), revealed her distinctive style, a mix of political analysis and religious exhortation. Her message, highly controversial coming from the pen of a woman, called upon African Americans to organize against slavery in the South and to resist racist restrictions in the North. She invoked both the Bible and the Constitution of the United States as documents proclaiming a universal birthright to freedom and justice.

Influenced by the militant abolitionist David Walker, Stewart raised the specter of armed rebellion by African Americans. In a lecture at Boston's African Masonic Hall in 1833 she declared M any powerful sons and daughters of Africa will shortly arise and declare by Him that ...

Article

Rita Roberts

Stewart, Maria W. (1803–17 December 1879), writer, black activist, and teacher, was born Maria Miller in Hartford, Connecticut (information about her date of birth and parentage is not known). Orphaned at five years old and indentured to a clergyman’s family until she was fifteen, Maria Miller supported herself as a domestic servant and gained a rudimentary education by attending “Sabbath schools.” Miller’s marriage on 10 August 1826 to James W. Stewart, a Boston shipping agent, placed her in the small and vibrant free black Boston community that had established organizations and institutions in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries for northern blacks coming out of bondage. Stewart’s brief period of financial security ended when unscrupulous executors cheated the young widow out of her inheritance following the death of her husband in 1829.

Lacking family and funds Stewart who had no children was forced to rely again ...

Article

Martha L. Wharton

political activist, lecturer, evangelical writer, and autobiographer, was born Maria Miller in Hartford, Connecticut, where she was orphaned by age five. Nothing is known about her parents. As a five-year-old girl, she was “bound out,” or indentured, to a clergy family for ten years. She then moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where she supported herself as a domestic for the next ten years. Maria enjoyed no formal education but struggled through her youth and young adulthood to become literate and to gain an education. Until she was twenty years old, she attended Sabbath school classes, where she learned to read the Bible, and this served as a staple in her pursuit of learning.

Miller married James W. Stewart on 10 August 1826 in the Reverend Thomas Paul s African Baptist Church in Boston In addition to taking his last name Maria adopted Stewart s middle initial ...

Article

Harry A. Reed

“What if I am a woman?” intoned Maria W. Stewart during a speech in Boston on 21 September 1833. Throughout her brief oration, she reminded her mixed audience of women and men that women, even in the ancient world, had been honored for their wisdom, prudence, religiosity, and achievements. Yet her own people of color, she noted, had failed to accord her similar recognition.

Maria W. Stewart, born in Hartford, Connecticut, took up public speaking as a means of supporting herself following her husband James’s death. Her marriage in 1826 at the Reverend Thomas Paul’s African Baptist Church marked her as a member of Boston’s small black middle class, but she had been cheated of a comfortable inheritance by unscrupulous white Boston merchants and lawyers. Before her public speaking tour (1832-1833), she had published a small pamphlet, Religion and the Pure Principles of Morality the Sure Foundation ...

Article

Joan R. Sherman

James Monroe Whitfield worked as a barber all his life, and the bitter militancy of his writings reflects his abortive attempts to secure racial justice and become a man of letters. He was born in New Hampshire, and little is known about his youth or later private life. Whitfield was a barber in Buffalo, New York (1854–1859), and in California (1861–1871), with brief sojourns in his later years in Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada. His public support for colonization began in 1854 when he wrote the call for the National Emigration Convention (Cleveland) and a series of letters to the North Star; from 1859 to 1861 he probably traveled in Central America seeking land for an African American colony. From 1849 until his death, Whitfield's forceful protest poetry and letters appeared often in the North Star, Frederick Douglass's Paper, the San Francisco Elevator and other ...

Article

Johnnella E. Butler

poet, abolitionist, and emigrationist, was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, the son of parents whose names are unknown. Little else is known of his family except that he had a sister, a wife, two sons, and a daughter.

A celebrated poet, Whitfield published two volumes of poetry, Poems in 1846 and America, and Other Poems in 1853, the latter launching his career as an abolitionist and emigrationist. The authors Richard Barksdale and Keneth Kinnamon point out Lord Byron's influence on his poetry's “brooding melancholy and latent anger” but see his strong abolitionist protest as more important. His poem “America” voiced the paradox of America as he saw it: “a boasted land of liberty” and “a land of blood and crime.” One of the most forceful writers and speakers for the abolitionist cause, Whitfield was seen by Frederick Douglass as unjustly buried in the precincts ...

Article

Johnnella E. Butler

James Monroe Whitfield was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, the son of parents whose names are unknown. Little else is known of his family except that he had a sister, a wife, two sons, and a daughter.

A celebrated poet, Whitfield published two volumes of poetry, Poems in 1846 and America, and Other Poems in 1853, the latter launching his career as an abolitionist and emigrationist. Richard Barksdale and Keneth Kinnamon point out Lord Byron's influence on his poetry's “brooding melancholy and latent anger” but see his strong abolitionist protest as more important. His poem “America” voiced the paradox of America as he saw it: “a boasted land of liberty” and “a land of blood and crime.” One of the most forceful writers and speakers for the abolitionist cause, Whitfield was seen by Frederick Douglass as unjustly buried in the precincts of a barber s shop ...