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Aubrey W. Bonnett

vice president and First Lady of Guyana, widely known as “Comrade Vi,” was born Viola Victorine Harper on 26 November 1930 in New Amsterdam, Berbice, Guyana. She was born into an interracial family of modest means. Her mother, Mary Chin-a-Chee, was a descendant of indentured Chinese immigrants to Guyana. Mary Chin-a-Chee later married James Nathaniel Harper, an Afro-Guyanese headmaster at the All Saints Scots School. A precocious child, Viola Burnham won a government county scholarship twice, in Berbice County and later in Demerara County; this took her to the premier all-girls’ secondary school, Bishops’ High School in Georgetown, where she excelled. After graduation in 1949 and a brief but enjoyable stint as a junior reporter at the Georgetown based Argosy newspaper, she moved to England to attend Leicester University, where she studied the classics and received a B.A. in Latin in 1958 She then returned to her alma mater ...

Article

Carmen Rosario

who described himself as a Puerto Rican writer, a Mexican university professor, and a socialist, was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on 8 March 1926, the only son of José González, of Puerto Rico, and Mignot Coiscou Henriquez, who belonged to a prominent Dominican family. Belonging to the 1950s generation of Puerto Rican writers, his immense literary work mostly reflects his concern for the less privileged classes, both in Puerto Rico and in New York, and the sociopolitical situation in Puerto Rico. He worked in various literary genres, such as short stories, novels, and essays.

The first five years of González’s life in the Dominican Republic left a deep impression on his soul. In his autobiographical book La luna no era de queso (The Moon Was Not Made of Cheese, 1988 he wrote that there was a proud and decisive Dominican still living within his heart Nevertheless ...

Article

Jeffrey B. Perry

Hubert Henry Harrison was born in Concordia, St. Croix, Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands), the son of William Adolphus Harrison and Cecilia Elizabeth Haines. Little is known of his father. His mother had at least three other children and, in 1889, married a laborer. Harrison received a primary education in St. Croix. In September 1900, after his mother died, he immigrated to New York City, where he worked low-paying jobs, attended evening high school, did some writing, editing, and lecturing, and read voraciously. In 1907 he obtained postal employment and moved to Harlem. The following year he taught at the White Rose Home, where he was deeply influenced by social worker Frances Reynolds Keyser, a future founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1909 he married Irene Louise Horton with whom he had ...

Article

Erin D. Somerville

Trinidadian historian, novelist, philosopher, and cricket fan credited with extending Marxist philosophy to black politics. Cyril Lionel Robert James was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad, to Robert, a rural schoolteacher and son of a sugar plantation worker, and Bessie, an avid reader. James won an exhibition to Trinidad's Queen's Royal College at the age of 9 and taught history at the College after graduation. Teaching was coupled with a semi‐professional cricket career and the publication of two early novels, La Divina Pastora (1927) and Triumph (1929).

At the age of 31 James immigrated to England to pursue a career as a novelist. The Trinidadian cricketer Learie Constantine, with whom James lived in Lancashire after a short stay in London, aided his move. James's bond with Constantine was encouraged by a mutual interest in West Indian independence, which climaxed in the publication of The Case for West ...

Article

Cyril Lionel Robert James was born into an educated family in Tunapuna, in colonial Trinidad. At the age of nine, James earned a scholarship to Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and graduated in 1918. He taught English and history at that college and later taught at the Government Training College for Teachers. During this time he met Alfred Mendes, who with James led an informal group of young intellectuals. James began writing and developing his political and literary ideas with this group. In 1927 his short story “La Divina Pastora” was published by the British Saturday Review of Literature, a significant achievement for both James and Caribbean literature. “La Divina Pastora,” in which a Cocoa worker pleads with her patron saint for help with her romantic life, was notable for its clear portrayal of the rural poor.

James and Mendes founded and ...

Article

John H. McClendon

community and labor organizer, socialist, and communist. Richard Benjamin Moore, a native of Barbados, was born to Richard Henry Moore, a preacher and building contractor, and Josephine Thorn Moore. Unfortunately Richard's mother died when he was only three years old. As a result his father was the most important person in Richard's upbringing. The elder Moore was responsible for introducing his son to the importance of gaining an education, having a religious outlook on life, and striving to maintain an ethic of hard work. Although he remained a diligent worker throughout his life, Moore later gave up religion for the philosophy of Marxist dialectical materialism.

With Moore's arrival in the United States in 1909 he faced the need to find employment and was also gripped by the burning desire to continue his education Finding employment and gaining an education were hurdles he had clearly ...

Article

Richard Moore became a political activist when he immigrated to New York in 1901. He joined the Socialist Party in 1918 and also became a member of the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), a secret organization with ties both to Black Nationalism and the Communist Party U.S.A.

In 1921 Moore left the Socialist Party because of its indifference to African American concerns and soon after joined the Workers Party, the Harlem branch of the Communist Party. In 1925 he was elected to the executive board and council of directors of the American Negro Labor Congress (ANLC), a national organization of black radicals, and became a contributing editor to the ANLC's the Negro Champion. In 1931 Moore became vice president of the International Labor Defense (ILD), which was formed to resolve legal problems caused by labor disputes and racism. Moore and the ILD became well known for defending the Scottsboro ...

Article

Paul Bjerk

the first president of Tanzania, was born in Butiama, in what was then Tanganyika, in 1922. His oft-cited birth date of 13 April coincides with the rainy season that inspired his given name, “Kambarage,” referring to a rain-giving ancestral spirit. He was one of twenty-six children in the polygamous family of Nyerere Burito, the colonial chief of the Zanaki people, who resided between the eastern shore of Lake Victoria and the Serengeti plains. He spent the first twelve years of his life in his father’s hilltop compound in the village of Butiama. British colonial policy offered free education to sons of chiefs, and a family friend recommended him for admission to school. He attended Mwisenge Primary School from 1934 to 1936 and excelled. He then transferred to Tabora Government School, an elite school that offered the best education in the territory. In 1943 he was sponsored by the ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Called both father of the nation and Mwalimu (teacher), Julius Kambarage Nyerere is considered by many to be the founder of modern-day Tanzania. The leader of one of the most unified nationalist movements in all of Africa, Nyerere guided Tanzania through a peaceful transition to independence and then pursued an ambitious plan to build a self-reliant socialist economy. Although lauded for his role in building a nation free of ethnic and civil conflict, his experimental socialist policies severely damaged Tanzania’s economy. He stepped down from the presidency when it became clear that his policies had failed, but continued to be one of the most influential people in Tanzania and East Africa.

Nyerere was born in Butiama Tanganyika present day Tanzania the son of a minor chief of the Zanaki one of the smallest ethnic groups in Tanzania Nyerere excelled in primary school and studied at colonial Tanganyika s only secondary ...

Article

Zahia Smail Salhi

Algerian author and journalist, was born in east Algeria in the village of Sedrata. Alternate forms of his name are “Ouettar Al-Taher,” “At-Tahar,” and “Taher.” He first received a religious education in his village, then pursued his studies in Ben Badis Institute in the city of Constantine, after which he traveled to Tunisia to study at the Al-Zaytouna University. He remained in Tunisia until Algeria won its independence in 1962.

This educational track determined as much as it paved the way for Wattar to become a fierce defender of the Arabic and Islamic identity of Algeria which often led him into bad polemics against the Francophone writers of Algeria whom he often erroneously labeled as playing into the hands of the former colonizer merely for using French language as a literary tool As much as Wattar is appreciated in conservative and Arabophone circles he is literally loathed by proponents ...