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Adebe DeRango-Adem

was born Barbara Theresa Christian in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, one of six children of Alphonso Christian, a judge, and Ruth (maiden name unknown).

Christian was admitted to Marquette University in Wisconsin at the age of fifteen, graduating cum laude with a B.A. in 1963. She chose to continue studying literature at Columbia University in New York City, in part because of its proximity to Harlem and resonance with the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance writers, who were still largely foreign to the American literary canon during her term of study. Harlem was also a fertile center for political activism in the 1960s civil rights era and central to the creation of a new black intellectual elite whose activities centered around the bookstore run by Lewis Micheaux, brother of black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. Christian was also said to have met Langston Hughes personal secretary in ...

Article

educator, literary and cultural critic, and leading scholar in African and African American studies, was born Louis Smith Gates in Keyser, West Virginia. Gates, nicknamed “Skip” by his mother at birth, grew up in nearby Piedmont, the son of Henry Louis Gates Sr., a mill worker and janitor, and Pauline Coleman Gates, a homemaker and seamstress. Born four years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education and encouraged by his parents, he excelled in Piedmont's integrated schools, including the Davis Free School and Piedmont High School, as did his older brother Paul, known as “Rocky,” who would become Chief of Oral Surgery at Bronx Lebanon Hospital.

At age fourteen Gates experienced two cataclysmic events in his young life the first a misdiagnosed slipped epithesis a hip injury that led to three surgeries in a year and the second his joining the Episcopal ...

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Tomeiko Ashford Carter

literary critic and Black Arts proponent, was born in Newport News, Virginia, the son of Addison Gayle Sr., a Communist Party spokesperson, and Carrie (Holloman) Gayle. Gayle was born during the Depression, and his parents divorced early in his life. Despite his mother's well-paying job at a nearby military base during World War II, Gayle and his immediate family remained well acquainted with poverty. He grew up in a black enclave and rarely saw whites. Still, he envied the apparent success that he believed all whites had.

In his autobiography Wayward Child: A Personal Odyssey, Gayle maintains that he was penalized by many of his high school teachers for being racially unmixed, poor, and seemingly arrogant. They despised him because he excelled on state exams and because he boasted about reading works by the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky and the African American writer Richard Wright Gayle ...

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 ...

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Egyptian literary critic, journalist, lawyer, and politician, was born on 5 July 1907 in Kafr Mandur in central Minya al-Qamh to a large family (he had four brothers and four sisters). His father was a very religious man who was a member of a Sufi order, al-Triqah al-Naqshbandiyyah. Mandur was greatly influenced by his father‘s religious activity and placed a greater emphasis on his Islamic studies throughout his elementary education at the al-Alfi school.

The nationalist revolution of 1919 was a formative event in his early life He witnessed the demonstrations in Minya al Qamh including the violent one at Bahr Muys Bridge opposite the police headquarters The calls to get rid of the British and the revival of Egyptian national pride deeply influenced him His anti British sentiments grew following the British raid of his village after the villagers sabotaged the local railway During his high school studies ...

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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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Jay Saunders Redding grew up in a middle-class family in Wilmington, Delaware. He received his Ph.B. in 1928 and his M.A. in 1932 from Brown University. Redding taught English at a number of colleges and universities, including Morehouse College (1928–1931), Louisville Municipal College (1934–1936), and Southern University in Louisiana (1936–1938), where he was department chair.

In 1939, Redding published his first book, To Make a Poet Black, in which he trained a critical eye on African American literature and produced a unique study. As a result of this scholarship he received a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation to study the life of blacks in the South. The product of his study was the semiautobiographical book No Day of Triumph (1942 After publishing this book Redding gained a reputation as a scholar of and spokesperson for both the accomplishments and tribulations ...

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Sylvie Kandé

An outstanding figure of twentieth-century philosophy, literature, and politics, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980) was the author of world-renowned essays, biographies, novels, and plays. He is generally remembered for his contribution to existentialism, a philosophical doctrine that challenges previous determinations of the nature of human existence and focuses instead on its raw and subjective reality. Positing that existentialism is a form of humanism, Sartre held that individuals must take responsibility for their freedom, which he defines as an uninterrupted series of choices. To achieve authenticity, one must also commit to personal and collective disalienation—an anxiety-inducing process, given the meaninglessness of a world devoid of teleology.

Sartre s own interventions in speeches and publications constantly targeted state power and its institutions and reflected his solidarity with the oppressed An eminent intellectual who declined the Légion d Honneur and the Nobel Prize for Literature Sartre undoubtedly brought into the limelight the various ...

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Nicole Sealey

civil rights activist, educator, poet, literary critic, scholar, and writer, was born Gloria Jean Wade in Memphis, Tennessee, the older of two daughters born to Robert Wade, a gifted storyteller and Pullman porter, and Bertha Reese Willett. Though raised in the segregated South, Wade found a source of pride, courage, and comfort in the insulated African American community. Her mother, a former high-school valedictorian, understood the power of knowledge. The Wade home was replete with books on a variety of subjects. Bertha Wade would often engage her daughters on a range of topics, from politics to theology. Determined that her children succeed, she encouraged her daughters to academically excel in spite of a segregated school system. Like Bertha Reese Willett, Robert Wade stressed the importance of education Though the pair were never married and separated when Wade was a young child ...