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Thomas F. DeFrantz

Afro‐Caribbean dancer and choreographer, was born Percival Sebastian Borde in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the son of George Paul Borde, a veterinarian, and Augustine Francis Lambie. Borde grew up in Trinidad, where he finished secondary schooling at Queens Royal College and took an appointment with the Trinidad Railway Company. Around 1942 he began formal research on Afro‐Caribbean dance and performed with the Little Carib Dance Theatre. In 1949 he married Joyce Guppy, with whom he had one child. The year of their divorce is unknown.

Borde took easily to dancing and the study of dance as a function of Caribbean culture. In the early 1950s he acted as director of the Little Carib Theatre in Trinidad. In 1953 he met the noted American anthropologist and dancer Pearl Primus who was conducting field research in Caribbean folklore Primus convinced Borde to immigrate to the United States as ...

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A native of Aracati, in northeastern Brazil, Adolfo Caminha moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1883 to attend the Escola de Marinha (Maritime Academy). He spent much of his life as a naval officer, drawing from his maritime experiences in his writing. Much of his writing draws thematically from the harsh reality of life at sea and reflects a deterministic view of race relations. Together, these qualities recall the two most important historical struggles of nineteenth-century Brazil and Caminha's most ardent causes—the abolition of slavery in 1888, and the founding of the republic in 1889.

His novel Bom Crioulo (1895), in particular, explores these newfound freedoms. A former slave nicknamed Bom Crioulo (crioulo is a term for a black person born in Brazil pursues and seduces Aleixo a white cabin boy after suffering a ruthless flogging for defending the boy against improper advances ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

writer and educator, was born in Petersburg, Virginia, to parents about whom little is known but who were only briefly married before Harold's father took his young son to New York City during the black migration to the North. The elder Cruse found work as a custodian with the Long Island Railroad; however, he soon realized the he could not care for a small child alone and placed Harold with a foster family in Queens. During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s his foster mother, Aunt Henrietta, instilled a love for the black theater in the young Harold, frequently taking him to performances. With the coming of the Depression the family lost their home and was forced to move into an apartment in Harlem, where Cruse became more deeply immersed in black culture. There he would witness performances by Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Bill Robinson, and Florence ...

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Leonard Harris

philosopher and literary critic, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Pliny Ishmael Locke, a lawyer, and Mary Hawkins, a teacher and member of the Felix Adler Ethical Society. Locke graduated from Central High School and the Philadelphia School of Pedagogy in Philadelphia in 1904. That same year he published his first editorial, “Moral Training in Elementary Schools,” in the Teacher, and entered undergraduate school at Harvard University. He studied at Harvard under such scholars as Josiah Royce, George H. Palmer, Ralph B. Perry, and Hugo Münsterberg before graduating in 1907 and becoming the first African American Rhodes scholar, at Hertford College, Oxford. While in Europe, he also attended lectures at the University of Berlin (1910–1911) and studied the works of Franz Brentano, Alexius Meinong, and C. F. von Ehrenfels Locke associated with other Rhodes scholars ...

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Wylene J. Rholetter

James Russell Lowell was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, into a family that traced its ancestry to the first Lowell to arrive in Massachusetts in the mid-seventeenth century. The son of Dr. Charles Lowell, who served as the pastor of West Church in Boston for fifty-six years, and Harriet Spence, who gave her son a love of poetry and tales, Lowell would prove to be the most versatile of the Fireside Poets, the group of Massachusetts poets so-named because the popularity of their poems made them standard hearth-side reading in homes across the country. (In addition to Lowell, the group included William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and John Greenleaf Whittier.)

After receiving his bachelor's degree from Harvard, Lowell briefly considered the ministry and business before entering Harvard's Dane Law School, where he received his degree in 1840 More significant to his ...

Article

Alan West

José Martí is one of the major figures of nineteenth-century Latin America. He is regarded by Cubans across the political spectrum as the father of Cuba's independence. His collected works span some twenty-eight volumes and include exquisite poetry, insightful essays on Whitman and Emerson, impassioned political analysis, and a remarkable book of children's literature, La edad de oro (1889).

While still an adolescent, Martí embraced the cause of Cuban independence, founding the newspaper La Patria Libre in 1869. He was imprisoned and then banished for writing a letter denouncing a Spanish fellow student. After 1871 Martí spent a great deal of his life outside of Cuba (Mexico, Guatemala, Spain), and most of the years between 1881 and 1895 in New York where he dedicated himself to the Cuban independence movement as a brilliant orator journalist fund raiser and political leader He ...

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Debbie Clare Olson

filmmaker, producer, director, playwright, writer, and cultural critic, was born in Newark, New Jersey, but spent most of his childhood in North Carolina. Little is known about his family. After high school, Moss moved to Baltimore and attended Morgan State College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1929. He also attended Columbia University in New York City, where he formed a troupe of black actors called “Toward a Black Theater.” The troupe toured around New York City and performed at various black colleges.

Moss was active in the theater and radio and acted in his first film, The Phantom of Kenwood, in 1933. The film was directed by Oscar Micheaux, one of the more prolific early black filmmakers. Between 1932 and 1933 Moss wrote three dramas—“Careless Love,” “Folks from Dixie,” and “Noah”—for a radio series called The Negro Hour ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

writer and critic, was born in Nokomis, Alabama, the son of Sudie Graham, a Tuskegee Institute student, and John Young, a businessman. Soon after his birth Mattie Murray, a housewife, and her husband, Hugh, a laborer and timber worker, adopted him. Murray, who later enjoyed a close relationship with Graham and Young, joked of his adoption by less-wealthy parents, “It's just like the prince left among the paupers” (Gates, 30). He learned about the folkways of segregation in Magazine Point, a community on the outskirts of Mobile, Alabama, where his family had moved during World War I. “We didn't dislike white people,” he recalled. “We saw too many bony-butt poor white crackers. We were going to feel inferior to them?” (Maguire, 139). Murray's rejection of any notion of black inferiority was further strengthened by exposure to Mobile's baseball legend Satchel Paige and ...

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Constance Porter Uzelac

painter, art historian, and writer, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of John Porter, a Methodist minister, and Lydia Peck, a schoolteacher. The youngest of seven siblings, he attended the public schools in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and graduated cum laude from Howard University in 1927 with a bachelor of science in Art. That same year Howard appointed him instructor in art in the School of Applied Sciences. In December 1929 he married Dorothy Louise Burnett of Montclair, New Jersey; they had one daughter.

In 1929 Porter studied at the Art Students League of New York under Dimitri Romanovsky and George Bridgeman. In August 1935 he received the certificat de présence from the Institut d'Art et Archéologie, University of Paris, and in 1937 he received a master of arts in Art History from New York University, Fine Arts Graduate Center.

Porter first exhibited ...

Article

Ellen Nickenzie Lawson

teacher of freedmen, was born in New Bern, North Carolina, the daughter of John Stuart Stanley and Frances Griffith, teachers who ran an antebellum private school in New Bern that was patronized by free blacks from throughout North Carolina. The Stanleys, free blacks related to a prominent slave-owning family of the same name, identified with their African American community. As a youth, Sara corrected people who mistook her for a white woman by explaining, “I am a colored woman having a slight admixture of negro blood in my veins.”

Stanley was a pioneer for her gender and for her race in being an antebellum college student, studying at Oberlin College, Ohio, from 1852 to 1855 She left college before receiving her degree Many North Carolina free blacks emigrated to Ohio at this time because of persecutions in the South and this may have been why the entire ...

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Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in the town of Florida, Missouri, to John Marshall Clemens and Jane Lampton, both Virginians. Marshall Clemens, a storekeeper and lawyer, cherished ambitions of wealth—a drive that rendered him a distant parent. His wife was an affectionate mother who struggled to instill her Calvinist beliefs in her seven children. In 1839 the Clemens family moved to nearby Hannibal, a town on the Mississippi River, where Samuel spent his boyhood and which later served as model for the fictional Saint Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. With the death of John Clemens in 1847, the young Samuel was forced to leave school to help support the family, working first as a printer's apprentice and later as a printer, which would be his craft for ten years.

At twenty one Clemens planned to set out for South America to seek his fortune but ...