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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 ...

Article

Houda Ben Ghacham

Tunisian film critic and director, was born in Tunis on 11 March 1944. His father, Taoufik Boughedir, was a journalist, novelist, playwright, and an influential figure in cultural life. Boughedir attended a French secondary school in Tunis and lived in the family home in Halfaouine, an area of old Tunis that was later to provide the name for the director’s first film. He went on to study French literature in Rouen and Paris and wrote two doctoral theses on African and Arabic cinema.

Boughedir first made a name for himself as a film critic, writing for, among others, the journal Jeune Afrique, which was published in Paris and distributed in francophone Africa. In his writing for this, he was an inexhaustible supporter of the cause of African cinema. He was involved in organizing the oldest pan-African film festival, Les Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage, in Tunis which he ...

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Jason Philip Miller

radio personality and conservative pundit, was born Laurence Allen Elder, the middle of three sons of Randolph Elder, who owned a local café, and Viola Elder. The family called the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles home, and it was in Los Angeles that the young Elder attended school. Both his father and mother placed a heavy emphasis on education and hard work. Elder's father had scrimped and saved and faced years of prejudice before being able to open his own business. Elder's mother urged her son to pursue a life of education. Elder took their lessons to heart, graduating from Crenshaw High in 1970 near the top of his class and matriculating to Brown University. He graduated with a B.S. in Political Science in 1974. He continued his education at the University of Michigan Law School, from which he earned the J.D. in 1977 ...

Article

Diane Todd Bucci

journalist, music critic, author, filmmaker, and television producer, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended St. John's University, and while there began his writing career at the black newspaper the Amsterdam News, where he was a college intern. During this time he also contributed to the music trade journal Billboard. After graduating from St. John's in 1979, George worked as a freelance writer and lived with his mother and sister in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Brooklyn. It did not take him long, though, to begin what would prove to be a flourishing career. George found employment as a black music editor, first for Real World magazine from 1981 to 1982, and then at Billboard from 1982 to 1989. He moved on to write a successful column entitled “Native Son” for the Village Voice, from 1989 to ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Haile Gerima was born in Gondar, Ethiopia. As a child, he acted in his father’s troupe, performing across Ethiopia. In 1967 Gerima moved to the United States and two years later enrolled in the University of California at Los Angeles drama school. There he became familiar with the ideas of black American leader Malcolm X and wrote plays about slavery and black militancy. After reading the revolutionary theory of Third Cinema, however, Gerima began to experiment with film. Gerima returned to Ethiopia in 1974 to film Harvest: 3,000 Years his first full length film and the only one of his works to be shot in Africa Although famine and the recent military overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie I placed severe restrictions on the film crew the final result was a sophisticated examination through the story of a village that finally overthrows its feudal landlord of the centuries ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

(b New Orleans, Oct 18, 1961). American trumpeter, composer, bandleader and educationist, brother of Branford Marsalis. From an early age he studied both jazz and classical music. When he was 14 he performed Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto with the New Orleans PO and while a student at the Juilliard School he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (1980). He toured in a quartet with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams and recorded his first album as leader (1981), then in early 1982 left Blakey to form a quintet (1982–5) with his brother Branford; he also toured with Hancock in 1983 as a member of the quintet V.S.O.P. II. In 1984 he became the first musician to win Grammy awards for both a jazz recording and a classical recording. Marsalis completed his first large-scale suite, Soul Gestures in Southern Blues ...

Article

James Sellman

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is the leading figure in contemporary Jazz. He burst onto the jazz scene as part of Art Blakey's 1980 edition of the Jazz Messengers. More than an inventive and talented musician, Marsalis has become the de facto spokesman for the neoclassical movement in jazz that emerged in the early 1980s, drawing inspiration from acoustic jazz styles that antedate the free jazz and jazz-rock of the late 1960s and 1970s. He has also worked effectively as a jazz educator, particularly for his four-part Public Broadcasting System (PBS) series Marsalis on Music, which won a Peabody Award in 1996.

Besides achieving acclaim as a musician, Marsalis emerged in the 1980s as an outspoken and controversial figure in America's ongoing dialogue on race and culture. His ideas on jazz and African American culture are indebted to the thinking of Albert Murray and Murray's intellectual disciple, Stanley ...

Article

Ian Brookes

trumpeter,-was born in Kenner, Louisiana, the second of six sons of Ellis Marsalis, a jazz pianist and teacher, and Dolores Ferdinand. He was named after the jazz pianist Wynton Kelly. Wynton Marsalis was raised in a musical family with his brothers, Branford (tenor and soprano saxophones), Delfeayo (trombone), and Jason (drums).

Marsalis began playing the trumpet at the age of six, starting on an instrument given to him by the bandleader and trumpeter Al Hirt with whom his father was then playing At age eight he was playing in a children s marching band and performing at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival A prodigiously talented instrumentalist Marsalis studied both jazz and classical music from an early age and at age twelve began classical training on the trumpet His early musical experience was diverse and included playing in local marching bands jazz groups and ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

film critic, author, and producer, was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He was one of nine children born to his parents. His father, Lou Mitchell, worked two blue-collar jobs at a laundry and a dairy farm to support the family. Despite the fact that he dropped out for a time, Mitchell graduated from Wayne State University, where he majored in English. While he was in college, he started his career reading his movie reviews on Detroit public radio. But it was his people-savvy that began his career in journalism. He found out where the prominent film critic Pauline Kael was about to conduct a television interview and ended up accompanying her to the interview, thus gaining a powerful mentor who would go on to recommend him for a job at the Detroit Free Press.

He didn t get that job but he went on ...

Article

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

George Ogola

Kenyan novelist, actor, and newspaper humorist and cultural critic, was born in 24 October 1954 in Nyeri, Central Kenya, a place he immortalized in his newspaper column, “Whispers,” as “the slopes of Mount Kenya,” a literal reference to the region’s mountainous topography. He was Octavia Muthoni and Elijah Mutahi Wahome’s first child in a family of eight children (two girls and six boys). Mutahi attended Catholic schools, a life that graced his writings. Baptized Paul, a name he later dropped, Mutahi became an altar boy at his local church and later joined the seminary, in what should have led him to joining the Catholic priesthood. Despite being encouraged by his parents to train as a priest, Mutahi dropped out of the seminary in 1972 because he found the institution too strict for his liberal ideas Instead he joined Kirimara High School for his A level education the last two ...

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Jennifer Lynn Headley

cultural critic, historian, performance and installation artist, photographer, writer, and activist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her mother, Lena, emigrated from Jamaica to Boston in the 1920s. She earned a BA from Wellesley College in Spanish and Economics and an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Iowa, studying-in its renowned Writers' Workshop. From Iowa, she moved to New York City and began writing for the Village Voice and Rolling Stone as a rock critic. She changed her career course with her first performance pieces in the 1980s and her critical writings about art and its effect on students and peers.

O'Grady's first performed as Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire, loosely translated into Ms. Black Middle Class; her alter ego was a rowdy uninvited guest to numerous high-profile art exhibitions. Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire Goes to JAM (1980), Mlle Bourgeoise Noire Goes to ...

Article

Alejandro Gortázar

was born on 8 August 1937 in Montevideo, Uruguay. Currently he is the director of Conjunto Bantú, and the president of Asociación Civil Africanía, two non-governmental organizations. As a child Olivera Chirimini lived in South Reus or Ansina neighborhood (Barrio Ansina) of Montevideo and candombe was part of his musical environment. In the 1950s he won first place as an amateur painter at the First Ramon Pereira Hall, a contest organized by a group of artists in honor to the Afro-Uruguayan artist Ramón Pereira (1919–1954). Around that time he finished high school and later on became part of the Black Independent Theater (Teatro Negro Independiente). The group was created by Dr. Francisco Melitón Merino in 1965 and pursued aesthetic and social objectives It promoted the idea of transforming society through theater providing the Afro descendant community with tools for individual improvement and appreciation of their cultural values ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

One of the founding figures in African filmmaking, Paulin Vieyra was responsible for dismantling barriers blocking the birth of film in Africa. Not only famous for these achievements, Vieyra was also influential as a film critic and film historian and did much to promote African cinema abroad.

Vieyra was born in Porto Novo, Benin, where he spent his early childhood. His father, a high-ranking civil servant in the French colonial administration, sent him to school in France at the age of ten. An excellent student, Vieyra was admitted to the University of Paris. When a bout of tuberculosis sent him into the hospital, Vieyra met film school students there who encouraged him to enroll in film school. He was admitted to l’Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques in Paris and in 1955 became the first African to graduate from the school.

After graduation Vieyra organized the film group Le Groupe Africain ...

Article

Samba Gadjigo

Beninese filmmaker and film critic, was born the oldest of eight children in Porto Novo, Benin (former Dahomey), on 30 January 1925. Vieyra’s great-grandfather, a Muslim Yoruba, was a member of a Bida royal family in Nigeria that was sent to Brazil as slaves. Following the 1835 Muslim slave rebellion in Bahia and emancipation in Brazil, Vieyra’s great-grandfather settled in the former Portuguese slave port of Porto Novo (New Port), which was said to be a tributary of the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo. He brought with him a mulatto wife, the daughter of his former Jewish Portuguese master and a black slave, and the Portuguese last name Vieyra.

Vieyra’s father was a Yoruba railroad administrator. His mother, originally from Sierra Leone, was a merchant. In 1935 they sent Paulin then ten to France to attend boarding school During the war his school was closed Moving from family to ...

Article

Betty Kaplan Gubert

Walton, Lester A. (20 April 1882–16 October 1965), diplomat, journalist, civil rights activist, and theater producer, was born Lester Aglar Walton in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Benjamin A. Walton, Sr., and Olive May Camphor Walton. After graduation from Sumner High School, Walton began his career as a journalist at the Globe-Democrat. He worked as a court reporter, covered general stories, and wrote a column on golf for the St. Louis Star Sayings, later the St. Louis Star-Time, from 1902 to 1906. Walton was thus the first African American to write for a white daily, and he was an active member of the St. Louis Press Club. For a time he also wrote for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, under Herbert Bayard Swope.

During these years Walton and Ernest Hogan a well known entertainer were copyrighting the words and music respectively ...