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Margaret Wade-Lewis

linguist educator early computer language translator Africanist scholar of Arabic and Berber was born in Wildwood New Jersey to Joseph Henry Applegate and Nancy Berkley Applegate His father was a second generation New Jersey resident whose father was a Native American from Maine Applegate s mother whose father was also Native American migrated from Virginia to Philadelphia where Applegate s parents met around the time of World War I Neither parent had more than an elementary school education Hardworking and ambitious they held high aspirations for their children Applegate and his sister enjoyed the advantages of a small town working class upbringing along with direct contact with black artists and entertainers who frequented the seaside summer boarding house their parents operated in Wildwood New Jersey Although the family was not affluent Applegate s environment was sophisticated and urbane He recalled awakening to the sounds of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington ...

Article

historian, Egyptologist, educator, and Pan-Africanist, known popularly as “Dr. Ben,” was born in Gondar, Ethiopia, the son of Krstan ben Jochannan, a lawyer and diplomat, and Tulia Matta, a native of Puerto Rico, who was a homemaker and midwife. Both parents were Jewish: his father was a member of a Jewish Ethiopian people then called the “Falasha,” or Beta Israel, and his mother was descended from Spanish Sephardic Jews. The couple met in Madrid, Spain, where Matta was attending college and the elder ben Jochannan was a diplomatic attaché. Soon after their marriage, they traveled from Spain to Ethiopia where their son, Yosef, was born.

Ben Jochannan spent his earliest years in Ethiopia but after age five he was raised in the Americas He said in later interviews that in the 1920s the Ethiopian government sent his father to Brazil to help develop the coffee trade of that country ...

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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 ...

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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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Íde Corley

actor, journalist, and Pan-African activist, was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to an Egyptian father and a Sudanese mother. In various documents he called his father, who was an army officer, either “Abbas Mohammed Ali” or “Abdul Salem Ali.” Early in his life Duse was separated from his family and forgot any knowledge of Arabic. He claimed to have been brought to England at the age of nine by a French officer with whom his father had studied at a military academy. In 1882 his father was killed by a British naval bombardment in a nationalist uprising at Tel el Kebir and his mother returned to the Sudan bringing Duse s sisters with her He subsequently lost all communication with his family During his early theatrical career in London he adopted the non Arabic name Duse maintaining that it derived from the surname ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

Pan-Africanactivist, was born Amy Ashwood in Port Antonio, Jamaica, to relatively prosperous middle-class parents. Her father was a successful caterer in Panama, and shortly after her birth Amy traveled with her brother and mother to live there. She returned to Jamaica in 1907 to be educated at the renowned Westwood Training College for Women, from which she graduated in 1914 It was there that the twelve year old first learned that her forebears had been taken forcibly from Africa by British traders and enslaved in Jamaica Though frightened and angered to learn the horrors of the Middle Passage Ashwood also became determined to learn more about her African roots A visit to her elderly grandmother who had been sold into slavery as a girl on the African Gold Coast instilled in her a strong sense of pride in her Ashanti ancestors She determined then that she had ...

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David Killingray

radical Pan-Africanist, journalist, and Baptist minister, was born Felix Eugene Michael Hercules in Venezuela but grew up in Trinidad, where his father was a civil servant. As a student at the Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain, Hercules showed his political awareness in a racially organized British colony by founding the Young Men's Coloured Association.

On leaving school he became a civil servant and then a schoolteacher in the town of Maparima. Hercules married a woman named Millicent Beatrice in Trinidad and had several children including Frank who in the 1940s moved to the United States and became a novelist and nonfiction writer During World War I Hercules moved to Britain and studied for an intermediate BA degree at London University Not untypical of the black migrant experience he soon became disillusioned by his experiences of the color bar in Britain an obstacle that fuelled ...

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Jolie A. Jackson-Willett

Pan-Africanist, feminist, writer, educator, was born in Victoria, British Columbia, the third of four children of Mariah A. (Alexander) Gibbs, originally of Kentucky, and Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, originally of Pennsylvania. Ida Gibbs's father was the self-educated, wealthy son of free Philadelphia blacks who was himself notable for his many accomplishments: he founded the first African American owned newspaper; made a fortune selling boots and prospecting equipment to miners during the Gold Rush in San Francisco, California; was the first black elected municipal police judge in Little Rock, Arkansas; and served six years as United States Consul in Madagascar under Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt. Ida Gibbs's uncle Jonathan C. Gibbs was at one time secretary of state in Florida during Reconstruction Growing up in an atmosphere of educational and financial success may have influenced the Gibbs children to achieve in higher education and ...

Article

Christine Lutz

Pan-Africanist and labor leader, was born William Alphaeus Hunton Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia, to Addie Waites Hunton, a leading clubwoman and feminist, and William Alphaeus Hunton Sr., founder of the Negro YMCA. Alphaeus was the couple's second surviving child. After the Atlanta riot of 1906 the Huntons moved to New York. Alphaeus grew up in Brooklyn, where he attended public schools with his sister Eunice Hunton (Carter), who became a prominent clubwoman and lawyer. Alphaeus and Eunice lived for two and a half years in Germany with their mother.

In 1921 Hunton entered Howard University in Washington, D.C., earning a BS in 1924. He pursued his graduate studies at Harvard University, earning an MA in English literature in 1926. Beginning in 1933 Hunton worked toward his PhD at New York University while teaching English literature at Howard as an assistant professor He received his ...

Article

John H. McClendon

AfricanAmerican scholar, educator, Pan-Africanist, political journalist, labor organizer, and Marxist. William Alphaeus Hunton Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to William Alphaeus and Addie Hunton. His grandfather Stanton Hunton had been born a slave in Virginia and had migrated to Chatham, Ontario, in Canada in 1843 after successfully purchasing his freedom. From Chatham, Stanton Hunton closely worked with John Brown in the preparation of Brown's historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859.

Alphaeus Hunton's father, William Alphaeus Hunton Sr. (1863–1916), had a lifelong career working with the YMCA, serving as its first African American secretary. William Hunton moved from Ontario to Norfolk, Virginia, in 1888 and he married Addie Waite in 1893 A native of Norfolk Addie Waite Hunton had graduated from the City College of New York and later received a degree in linguistics from the Sorbonne After her marriage to ...

Article

Laura M. Calkins

homeopathic physician, was born in Chatham, a hub of fugitive and free-black settlement in extreme southwestern Ontario, then known as Canada West. Little is known about Jones's early life. Her parents were James Monroe Jones and Emily Jones. Her father came from a family of manumitted slaves in North Carolina, and his father, James Madison Jones, had obtained the family's freedom in 1843 and moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where he graduated from Oberlin College with an AB degree in 1849; at least one of his brothers also graduated from Oberlin.

Sophia Jones had three sisters, Anna Holland Jones, Emma (or Emily) Jones, and Frederica Florence Jones, and two brothers, George and James These children probably all attended one of the Chatham area s private schools for black students and they excelled in their studies As a young woman Sophia attended the Wilberforce Educational ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

choir leader, was born in Portage County, Ohio, the son of a farmer whose name is now unknown and whose financial contributions to a nearby college neither overcame the local prejudice nor secured a place for his son among the student body. Educated in Ravenna, Ohio, Loudin went on to train as a printer, only to find his opportunities restricted by white printers who refused to work with him. Even his Methodist church rejected his application to join its choir. For all its positive associations for their kinfolk in the slavery states, mid-nineteenth century Ohio was a hard place for the Loudins, as it had been for Frederick Douglass who was mobbed in Columbus, Ohio, when Frederick Loudin was a boy. He was to recall that the “ostracism was even more complete and unchristian in the free than in the slave States” (Marsh, 106).

After the Civil War Loudin ...

Article

Carol Polsgrove

writer and Pan-Africanist, was born Malcolm Ivan Meredith Nurse in Arouca, Trinidad, the son of James Hubert Alfonso Nurse, a teacher, and Anna Susanna Symister of Antigua. In Port-of-Spain he attended Tranquillity School and St. Mary's College of the Immaculate Conception before graduating from Pamphylian High School in 1918. As a reporter of shipping news for the Weekly Guardian, he saw in the arrogant treatment the white editor meted out to a black assistant editor the future that lay in store for him. In 1924 he traveled to the United States with the declared intention of studying medicine. His wife, Julia Semper, joined him later, leaving behind their daughter, Blyden.

In the United States Nurse evolved quickly into a political leader While a student at Fisk University in Nashville Tennessee he wrote to Nnamdi Ben Azikiwe a Nigerian studying at Storer College in West ...

Article

David Michel

minister and social activist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and during his childhood lived in Chicago, Illinois, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His Pentecostal mother was a nurse and his Muslim father a painter. Rivers's parents separated when he was three, and he was reared by his mother. While living in Philadelphia during his teenage years, Rivers joined a gang whose leaders constantly harassed him. In 1963 he responded to a message delivered by the Reverend Billy Graham through the Hour of Decision radio program. Consequently Rivers joined Deliverance Evangelistic Church, pastored by the Reverend Benjamin Smith. Smith helped Rivers get out of gang life and counseled him in many ways.

In 1968 Rivers won a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts College studies opened a new world for Rivers who had by then become estranged from Smith The young Rivers had observed the activism of the ...

Article

Kyra E. Hicks

First Lady of Liberia and one of the original African American emigrants to Liberia, was born Jane Rose Waring in Virginia to Colston M. Waring, a minister, and Harriet Graves. The Waring family, including their children Susannah, Thomas, Annetta, William, Jane, and John, emigrated to Liberia aboard the Cyrus in 1824. Other children were born in Liberia to the Warings, including Christinana, Ann, Harriet, and Colston. Elder Colston Waring served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Monrovia. He was also a successful coffee planter and wealthy merchant. He served as vice agent for the American Colonization Society in Liberia and other administrative positions before his death in 1834. Jane learned to read and write in Liberia. She spoke French fluently and was “in all respects was well-bred and refined,” according to Hallie Q. Brown who met ...

Article

Yevette Richards Jordan

labor leader and Pan-Africanist, was born Maida Stewart in Panama, the daughter of Adina Stewart Carrington, a beautician, and Harold Stewart, a worker on the Panama Canal Zone project. At the age of seven she immigrated with her parents to the United States and settled in Harlem, and soon after they arrived, her parents separated. From 1923 to 1926 Springer attended the Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth in Bordentown, New Jersey, a boarding school renowned for its teaching staff but encumbered by the industrial model of education advocated by Booker T. Washington. Not until 1927 did the school expand beyond its focus vocational training by offering a more academic curriculum that could lead to a high school diploma. The commandant of the school was Lester Granger with whom Springer would later share a friendship and working relationship when he served as executive director ...

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Yolanda L. Watson Spiva

educator, Africanist, and anthropologist, was born Gloria Albertha Marshall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; nothing is known of her parents. She attended Dillard Elementary School and Dillard High School. A student of high academic prowess and promise, she skipped grade levels because of her exceptional ability and mastery of her school work and was classified as a high school junior at the age of fourteen. At fifteen she was offered and accepted early admission to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, on a Ford Foundation Early Entrant Scholarship. In 1955, while a student at Fisk, Gloria attended Oberlin College as part of an academic exchange program and was exposed to an educational setting that she perceived to be a better fit for her academic interests. Consequently she transferred from Fisk to Oberlin to complete her undergraduate degree.

Sudarkasa received her bachelor s degree in Anthropology and English ...

Article

George Baca

anthropologist, was born Council Samuel Taylor in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Walter Knight Taylor and Odelle Grace Robinson Taylor. “Count,” as his intimates called him, was dynamic, tall, a stylish dresser, and a great storyteller, using his deep voice for dramatic effect. Colleagues, students, and teachers remembered him adorned with a French beret, ascot, and an ornate walking stick.

Taylor passed as a white man during the 1940s. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the marines—well before President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the U S Armed Forces where he saw combat duty with the Air Delivery Squadron and Aviation Supply during World War II A most striking feature of his biography is that as a gay black man Taylor served as a platoon sergeant in aviation supply in several locations in the South Pacific and near China during the war ...

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Sylvia M. Jacobs

principal, missionary, and mission superintendent, was born Cora Ann Pair in the village of Shotwell (later Knightsdale), Wake County, North Carolina, the second of twelve children of Harmon Pair, a minister. Her mother's name is unknown. She attended and completed the high school in Shotwell and then entered Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Thomas graduated from Shaw in 1895 with a higher English diploma. In the nineteenth century, historically black colleges and universities provided students with an education from elementary to high school. The majority of the slaves who gained their freedom in 1865 were illiterate, and any school they attended would have had to begin with a basic education. Thomas received a higher English diploma, which meant she had majored in English and earned at least a high school diploma.

After graduation Thomas served as principal of an orphanage in Oxford North Carolina Between ...