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Christian Høgsbjerg

was born in 1885 in Barbados, then part of the British West Indies. As a teenager, he enrolled as a seaman in the British merchant navy, before settling in Chicago and raising a family. During the World War I, like many other black colonial seamen, he rejoined the merchant navy. After the war, Braithwaite returned to the United States, this time to New York, where he found work in a bar and possibly witnessed the month-long New York Harbor Strike in October 1919.

In the early 1920s, Braithwaite crossed the Atlantic and settled in Stepney, London, where, after meeting Edna Slack, a young white woman whom he married in 1936 he raised a new family with six children He found work with the Shipping Federation as an agent in the Pool a part of the River Thames where many ships came to dock He was charged with finding ...

Article

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

Karen Smid

Guinean socialist politician and educator, was born on 18 October 1897 in the town of Labe, located in the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea. His father, Thierno Bacar Diallo, was an adviser to a prominent Fouta Djallon chief, Alpha Yaya Diallo. His mother was Djenabou Diallo. Yacine Diallo was named after the thirty-sixth chapter in the Qurʾan (Yasin), which, according to legend, his father was reading at the time of his birth.

As a child, Diallo excelled both in his qurʾanic education and in the French colonial schools. He was accepted at age seventeen into the prestigious École Normale Supérieure William Ponty (Willam Ponty School) in Gorée, Senegal. Diallo graduated three years later, certified to work as a teacher.

From 1917 to 1945 Diallo was employed by the French colonial government in schools throughout Guinea During this time he built relationships with members of ethnic groups other ...

Article

J. A. Zumoff

socialist, journalist, and Jamaican nationalist, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He was orphaned at an early age and raised by his uncle, Adolphus Grant, and was trained as a tailor. In Jamaica, he joined Sandy Cox's National Club, a pioneering nationalist organization, and became a leader along with Marcus Garvey. In 1910 Domingo moved to Boston, where he attended night school in preparation for medical school. In 1912 he instead moved to New York, where he became a successful importer of Caribbean food. When Garvey settled in New York in 1916, Domingo introduced him to local black political leaders. He became the first editor of the Negro World in 1917, the paper associated with Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, a Pan-African nationalist organization. At the same time, Domingo—along with other “New Negro” radicals, including Chandler Owen, A. Philip Randolph, and Richard Benjamin ...

Article

Wilfred Domingo was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to a Jamaican mother and a Spanish father. He and his older brother and sister were orphaned at an early age and were raised by a maternal uncle. After attending the Calabar School and the Kingston Board School, he became an apprentice tailor in Kingston. Domingo joined the National Club, an organization that lobbied for Jamaican home rule. He became the club's second assistant secretary and befriended the club's first assistant secretary, Marcus Moziah Garvey. In 1912 Domingo moved to the United States, living first in Boston, Massachusetts, and then in New York, New York. There he formed the Jamaican Benevolent Association and became associated with the Socialist Party.

Domingo was loosely affiliated with Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), a radical Pan-Africanist organization founded in Kingston in 1914 and headquartered in New York City after 1916 Although Domingo ...

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

Selwyn Cudjoe

Cyril Lionel Robert James (1901–1989), eminent pan-Africanist and one of the most original Marxist thinkers to emerge from the Western hemisphere, was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad. He was named after his father, Robert James, the principal of several outstanding primary schools in the island. Robert’s nephew Cyril Austin, who lived with the James family for many years, observed that Robert “reveled in everything that lifted the human mind; that is, everything that was Victorian. He dabbled in the arts, the liberal arts, music and dancing.” Young James attended Arima Government School, from which he won a government scholarship to go to Queen’s Royal College (QRC), the leading high school on the island. After he completed his studies at QRC, he was offered a teaching position where, among others, he taught Eric Williams, author of Capitalism and Slavery and former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Each night ...

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

Christopher Phelps

revolutionary socialist writer, was born Cyril Lionel Robert James in the village of Caroni on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, a British colony, to Robert Alexander James, a schoolteacher and principal of modest means, and Ida Elizabeth (“Bessie”) James, a devout Anglican and avid reader of English literature. His parents nicknamed him “Nello,” a name later used among friends. His earliest education took place under his strict father in a tiny schoolhouse in North Trace. At age nine James won a scholarship to Queen's Royal College (QRC), the island's best school, in the capital, Port of Spain. At QRC between 1911 and 1918 James indulged his love for the game of cricket and English novels (Thackeray'sVanity Fair was a particular favorite to the detriment of his grades His teachers as had his family impressed upon him the importance of proper manners and fair play ...

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

Nick Nesbitt

Hégésippe Légitimus was the son of a fisherman who lost his life at sea. He grew up in Pointe-à-Pitre and attended the lycée Carnot, where he came in contact with the ideas of the French socialist theoretician Jules Guesde. This political awakening led him to form a “Committee for Republican Socialist Youth.” After witnessing a mulatto overseer mistreat a black youth, he publicly took the defense of the latter in his first political gesture.

Légitimus entered public politics when Guadeloupe was in the throes of an extended economic crisis after the relative prosperity of the Second Empire (1852–1870). Following the abolition of slavery in 1848, this earlier period saw both the consolidation of sugar plantation capital in the hands of metropolitan owners and a rapid increase in economic activity following the lifting of foreign trade restrictions in 1861 The need for inexpensive labor however outlived ...

Article

Christopher Phelps

labor organizer and socialist, was born in Malden, West Virginia, in the home of his maternal grandfather, a coal miner and Baptist preacher. He and three younger sisters were born to Janie Rice McKinney, a graduate of the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, and William Tecumseh McKinney, a teacher who later became principal of the Negro school in Huntington, West Virginia, and then, as a loyal Republican, was awarded a post in the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C.

To provide the children a superior education, the family relocated to Oberlin, Ohio, where between 1910 and 1913 McKinney attended the Academy, a preparatory school run by Oberlin College. In 1911 he helped found the Oberlin chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) after a visit from W. E. B. Du Bois After encountering a member of the Socialist Party in a Cleveland bookstore ...

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

J. A. Zumoff

activist, communist, and Pan-Africanist, was born in Hastings, Christ Church, Barbados, the son of Josephine Thorn Moore and Richard Henry Moore, a building contractor. Moore's mother died when he was three, and his father married Elizabeth McLean. In 1902 Moore's father died and Moore lived with his stepmother while attending middle school. After graduating in 1905 he became an office clerk, a job he would hold at different firms until he emigrated. During this period he also converted to an evangelical Christian group led by a white American preacher.

In 1908 two of his elder sisters immigrated to New York City, and on 4 July 1909 Moore and his stepmother followed Moore briefly secured an office assistant job at a Manhattan advertising firm until an infatuation with a white coworker caused a scandal and forced him to leave his job He then found employment ...

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

Tekeste Negash

English anticolonial activist who was a key advocate for Ethiopia from the 1930s until her death, was born on 5 May 1882 in Manchester, England. In 1903, Sylvia, her mother Emmeline, and her older sister Christabel, founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). She was a leader of the suffragette movement until 1913, when she left the WSPU because the organization had abandoned the struggle for universal adult suffrage for a narrower focus on gaining a limited franchise.

From 1913 to 1935, Sylvia turned her attention to social welfare issues from a socialist and communist perspective. She established the East London Federation of Suffragettes and founded a weekly paper, the Dreadnought. She was also involved in the establishment of the World Suffrage Federation, which became the World Socialist Federation in 1920 Sylvia Pankhurst was a founding member of the British Communist Party of ...

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 ...