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Jean Smith

educator best known as the “Dancehall Doctor” or “Patois Docta,” was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on 20 November 1950. The eldest of three children born to Daniel George and Modesto Cooper, her mother taught at Rollington Town Primary and her father was both a tailor and an elder in the church. While growing up, she actively participated in the church as a youth leader and an organist. She credits her mother with encouraging her creative side and the church with developing her leadership skills. She learned about her Accompong Maroon heritage as an adult. Her interest in popular music began during her teenage years, when she found ska, rock steady, and reggae engrossing.

She attended St. Hugh’s High School in Kingston, graduating in 1968 and was awarded the Jamaica Scholarship which allowed her to pursue a B A in English literature at the University of the West Indies ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Fred Lindsey

writer, editor, educator, artist, and intellectual, best known as a social critic. Cruse defined the relationships between African Americans and American society. His 1967 book The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual: A Historical Analysis of the Failure of Black Leadership energized activists intellectually, both within the United States and in a few black nations, and thus contributed to the roots of the so-called black revolution.

Harold Wright Cruse was born in Petersburg, Virginia; his father was a railroad porter. During Cruse's childhood his father and his stepmother divorced, and he was taken to New York to live with his father's sister in Queens. Before graduating from high school, Cruse was introduced to what remained of the Harlem Renaissance, to the country's radicalism of the 1930s, and to a lecture given by the scholar W. E. B. Du Bois all of which provoked his thinking about ...

Article

Dorsia Smith Silva

writer, educator, and preacher, was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Addie Mae Leonard, a teacher's aide. In 1990 Dyson was adopted by the auto worker Everett Dyson when Leonard married him. As a child, Dyson read avidly and enjoyed the Harvard Classics. His intellectual vigor earned him a scholarship to the prestigious Cranbrook Kingswood School in 1972. However, Dyson behaved poorly and was expelled in 1974. He then attended Northwestern High School and graduated in 1976.

In 1977, Dyson married his girlfriend, Terrie Dyson, who gave birth to Michael Eric Dyson II a year later. Due to the pressures of being a young couple, Dyson and his wife divorced in 1979. To help focus his life, Dyson became a licensed Baptist preacher in 1979 and ordained minister in 1981 with his pastor Frederick G. Sampson II s assistance He ...

Article

Patrick Chura

essayist, professor, and cultural critic, was born Gerald Lyn Early in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest child of Henry Early and Florence Fernandez Early. Gerald's father died when he was nine months old. His mother, who never finished high school but whose practical wisdom shaped Gerald's character, worked as a school crossing guard and a teacher's aide.

Growing up without a father in a tough Philadelphia neighborhood, Early found a role model in Lloyd Richard King, his fifth- and sixth-grade teacher in an all-black Philadelphia public school. King was a dedicated and inspirational instructor who believed that Early would do great things. During a period when there were few African American male elementary school teachers, King became a father figure and strong influence.

Early's initial inclinations toward literature were fostered by his two older sisters—Rosalind and Lenora both English majors at Temple University who ...

Article

Daniel J. Martin

Born in Philadelphia, Gerald Early earned degrees from University of Pennsylvania (BA 1974) and Cornell University (MA 1980, PhD 1982). He is the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and a former director of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. His first essay collection, Tuxedo Junction: Essays on American Culture (1989), treats cultural topics such as politics, Miss America, boxing, and jazz. The relevance of popular culture for Early comes from its connection to the marginalized in American society and from the enormous creative involvement of African Americans in it. Through popular culture, musicians, sports figures, and writers have at once asserted and subverted the language and symbolism of mainstream culture. Early notes how the appropriation of white discourse cast two of his literary forebears, Frederick Douglass and Zora NealeHurston into the double role of criticizing dominant culture while ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Stuart Hall, a founder of the New Left and of the interdisciplinary field known as cultural studies, has devoted his career to developing a framework for understanding issues of race, ethnicity, and cultural practice and their practical relationship to contemporary British politics.

Hall was born to upwardly mobile middle-class parents in Kingston, Jamaica. In 1951 he won a Rhodes scholarship to Merton College at Oxford University, which he has called “the hub, the motor, that creates Englishness.” He earned a doctoral degree in American literature.

During the 1950s Hall became involved in West Indian and socialist politics. He was a founding member of the New Left Club and its publication Universities and Left Review. This journal merged with social historian E. P. Thompson's The New Reasoner in 1959 and became the New Left Review Hall was its first editor In this journal Hall challenged the failure ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Merle Hodge is one of the best-known Caribbean women writers. She was born and raised in Trinidad, and after graduating from high school in 1962 she received the Trinidad and Tobago Girls' Island Scholarship to study in England. There she received a B.A. degree in French from University College, London, in 1965, and an M.Phil degree in 1967. Her master's thesis was on the poetry of French Guianese Négritude writer Leon Damas, and she later wrote several more scholarly studies of his work.

After graduation Hodge spent several years working as a baby-sitter and a typist as she traveled across Europe, and during her travels she completed her first novel. Crick Crack, Monkey (1970 tells the story of Tee a young girl who is forced to choose between her mother s family and her father s after her mother s death The choice is ...

Article

Nicole Sealey

intellectual, feminist, educator, cultural critic, social activist, and poet, was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to Veodis Watkins, a custodian, and Rosa Bell Watkins, a housekeeper. One of seven children, hooks grew up in a poor family in which poetry was a well-respected art form. On stormy nights the Watkins family would host talent shows in their living room. As a youth, hooks would recite poems by such authors as Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson. By the age of ten, hooks was already writing and reading her own work.

Hooks attended Booker T. Washington Elementary, a segregated black school. Her teachers, mostly single black women, nurtured and fostered her young mind. With the integration of public schools in the 1960s, however, black students were bused to white schools. Hooks soon learned that the white teachers at Crispus Attucks ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

Cited in Booklist as a “formidable feminist social and cultural critic,” bell hooks is widely known for her pioneering and provocative scholarship on racism and sexism in the United States. A prolific essayist and the author of nearly twenty books, she has written on a range of issues, including feminist politics and the representation of race in Film, Television, and advertising.

In a 1995 interview with Carl Posey of Essence magazine, hooks affirmed that “fundamentally, my life is committed to revolutionary Black liberation struggle, and I don't ever see Black liberation and feminism as being separate.” She has criticized both white, middle-class feminists and black liberation activists for neglecting women of color, and has encouraged African American women to “claim a critique of sexism” based on the black experience. Seeing class divisions among blacks as a principal obstacle to racial justice, she wrote, in her 1996 book Killing Rage ...

Article

Deborah G. Chay

With her first two books, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (1981) and Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (1984 bell hooks born Gloria Watkins joined a generation of black feminists whose political perspective was explicitly forged in a consciousness of their marginality to the Black Power civil rights movement and feminist movement of the 1960s Unlike some of her contemporaries hooks did not feel that black women s double oppression warranted advocating a separate black feminist agenda but instead saw black women s special historical situation as relevant both for a feminist movement that had stumbled over its implicit class and race biases and for a black liberation movement that remained committed to the patriarchal values of the racist society it denounced Challenging feminist and antiracist movements to become accountable for the lives and experiences of black women hooks envisioned black feminism as ...

Article

Amy Grant

The intrepid bell hooks has been one of America’s premier social critics, although often incorrectly categorized as merely a black feminist. It would be more accurate to characterize her as a public intellectual engaged in the arts of literary, film, and popular cultural criticism and committed to the struggle against racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. Many of her writings, interviews, and public speeches identified these dominant discourses as serious impediments designed to inhibit people from realizing a fuller understanding of themselves and their fellow human beings. Hooks sought to dismantle these dominant political discourses by exposing their use in art, literature, and film. Meanwhile, hooks encouraged those most damaged by these ideas, such as black women, to join this struggle, believing strongly that the elevation of black womanhood will result in the liberation of blacks and American society itself.

Bell hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky ...

Article

Stephanie Y. Evans

feminist theorist and author. Born Gloria Jean Watkins in 1952 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, bell hooks was raised in the segregated South and was aware of racial, gender, and economic discrimination at an early age. Defying the odds, she earned a BA in 1973 from Stanford University in English, an MA in 1976 from the University of Wisconsin, and a PhD in 1983 from the University of California, Santa Cruz. hooks's dissertation explored the ideas of Toni Morrison.

hooks began writing her first book, Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, when she was nineteen years old, and, after much revision, it was published in 1981 Since then her writing has explored themes including the experience of growing up black and female in America the creation of feminist ideals by which to evaluate culture observations on interracial relationships and race relations and discussions of love and spirituality ...

Article

Yusuf Nuruddin

political scientist and public intellectual, was born Martin Luther Kilson Jr. in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the son of Martin Luther Kilson, a Methodist clergyman, and Louisa Laws Kilson. Kilson was raised in Ambler, Pennsylvania, a small factory town outside Philadelphia, where his great-grandfather, a Civil War Colored Infantry Regiment veteran, had settled after the war.

Ambler, a major producer of asbestos textiles, had a small black population and the few black townspeople were generally treated well by the local whites. Kilson experienced little or no overt bigotry during his childhood and adolescence, but he did become aware of structural racism, as his father ministered to Ambler's small black, and mostly poor community. In 1949 Kilson left Ambler for Lincoln University the nation s oldest historically black university located in nearby Chester County Pennsylvania There he was influenced by the Negritude movement which had captured the ...

Article

Kenneth Ombongi and Marcel Rutten

Ali Mazrui, a Kenyan academic, is an enigma. Many call him a pan-Arabist, pan-Africanist, or Muslim fundamentalist. In academia, he is a political historian, political scientist, philosopher, or commentator on diverse issues. However, there seems to be consensus that he is a prolific writer and an orator.

Mazrui is a creation of diverse influences and a creator of many ideas. In his achievements, he is a creation of countries other than his own. He was born 24 February 1933 in Mombasa, Kenya, and got his early education there. He has, however, spent his professional life outside Kenya. Educated at university in England and America, Mazrui’s achievements have been made and celebrated abroad. Whereas he started his scholarship career in Makerere University, in Uganda, he has achieved his intellectual prowess in the United States.

True, the Swahili culture constitutes Mazrui’s cultural roots but he is also Westernized Perhaps neither ...

Article

Ali A. Mazrui was born into the prominent Mazrui clan of Mombasa, which ruled the city during the eighteenth century. His father, Al’Amin Ali Mazrui, was chief Kadhi, Kenya's highest-ranking Islamic judge. After attending primary and secondary schools in Mombasa, he earned a B.A. from the University of Manchester in 1960. He earned an M.A. from Columbia University in New York City in 1961 and a doctorate from Oxford University in 1966.

While working on his dissertation, Mazrui began teaching political science in 1963 at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Mazrui was named dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences in 1967, a position he held until 1973. An early favorite of Idi Amin, in 1971 Amin s first year in power Mazrui soon lost favor because of his outspokenness and was told to shut up or move out of Uganda ...

Article

Ann Hostetler

poet, critic, and essayist, was born in Florence, Alabama, to James Otis, a social worker and administrator, and Avis Ann Mullen, a teacher. Her parents, originally from Pennsylvania, met at Talledega College in Alabama. When Mullen was three her family moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where she grew up in a religious Baptist household that valued reading and family. Her grandfather and great-grandfather were Baptist ministers. When she was eleven years old, her family moved into a white neighborhood in a still-segregated Fort Worth and experienced the extreme reactions of the neighbors. In an interview with Calvin Bedient Mullen commented on the multiple cultures and discourses that intersected in her daily life and the ways in which that multiplicity shaped her poetry My text is deliberately a multi voiced text a text that tries to express the actual diversity of my own experience living ...

Article

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

Patrick Chura

author, professor, and political commentator, was born in Chicago, Illinois, one of four children of Shelby Steele Sr. and Ruth Steele. Steele's father, born into poverty in Kentucky in 1900, completed only the third grade before being pushed out of school to work in white-owned tobacco fields. He left Kentucky for Chicago in 1914 and met Shelby's mother, Ruth, a white social worker, while volunteering in the early 1940s for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), an organization composed mainly of white middle-class college students seeking to change racist attitudes through peaceful protest. Steele's father supported his family by working as a non-union truck driver and earning extra income as a rental property owner, garage builder, exterminator, and paint salesman. Through reading and rigorous independent study, he achieved a high level of self-education.

Both of Steele s parents were devoted civil rights activists who believed ...