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Article

Mark Richardson

Half-way between Maine and Florida, in the heart of the Alleghenies,” wrote W. E. B. Du Bois in John Brown (1909), the year before he helped found the NAACP, “a mighty gateway lifts its head and discloses a scene which, a century and a quarter ago, Thomas Jefferson said was ‘worthy a voyage across the Atlantic.’ ” Whereupon he continues citing Jefferson's words from Notes on the State of Virginia (1785):

You stand on a very high point of land; on your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to find a vent; on your left approaches the Potomac, in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea.

The place is Harpers Ferry Virginia later West Virginia where in ...

Article

Charles L. James

Born in Alexandria, Louisiana, the first child of a Roman Catholic bricklayer and a Methodist schoolteacher, Arna Wendell Bontemps grew up in California and graduated from Pacific Union College. After college he accepted a teaching position in Harlem at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, and in 1926 and 1927 won first prizes on three separate occasions in contests with other “New Negro” poets. The same years marked his marriage to Alberta Johnson and the start of a family of six children.

Bontemps's first effort at a novel (Chariot in the Cloud, 1929), a bildungsroman set in southern California, never found a publisher, but by mid-1931, as his teaching position in New York City ended, Harcourt accepted God Sends Sunday (1931 his novel about the rise and notoriety of Little Augie This tiny black jockey of the 1890s whose period of great luck ...

Article

Navneet Sethi

poet, anthologist, and librarian during the Harlem Renaissance. Born in Alexandria, Louisiana, from age three Arna Wendell Bontemps grew up in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. After attending public schools there, he attended Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, graduating in 1923.

After college Bontemps, who had already begun writing, moved to New York City and became a teacher in Harlem. Like his contemporary Arthur A. Schomburg, Bontemps excavated the rich cultural heritage of the African American community and won recognition quite early. Opportunity magazine awarded Bontemps its Alexander Pushkin poetry prize twice: in 1926 for the poem “Golgotha Is a Mountain” and in 1927 for “The Return.” Also in 1927 his poem “Nocturne at Bethesda” won The Crisis magazine's first-ever poetry contest. In 1926 he married Alberta Johnson; they had six children.

Bontemps's first published novel for adults, God Sends Sunday (1931 ...

Article

Robert E. Fleming

writer, was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, the son of Paul Bismark Bontemps, a bricklayer, and Maria Carolina Pembroke, a schoolteacher. He was reared in Los Angeles, where his family moved when he was three. He graduated from Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, in 1923.Bontemps then moved to Harlem, New York, where the Harlem Renaissance had already attracted the attention of West Coast intellectuals. He found a teaching job at the Harlem Academy in 1924 and began to publish poetry. He won the Alexander Pushkin Prize from Opportunity, a journal published by the National Urban League, in 1926 and 1927 and The Crisis (official journal of the NAACP) Poetry Prize in 1926. His career soon intersected that of the poet Langston Hughes, with whom he became a close friend and sometime collaborator. In Harlem, Bontemps also came to know Countée Cullen, W ...

Article

Robert E. Fleming

Bontemps, Arna Wendell (13 October 1902–04 June 1973), writer, was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, the son of Paul Bismark Bontemps, a bricklayer, and Maria Carolina Pembroke, a schoolteacher. He was reared in Los Angeles, where his family moved when he was three. He graduated from Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, in 1923.

Bontemps then moved to New York’s Harlem, where the “Harlem Renaissance” had already attracted the attention of West Coast intellectuals. He found a teaching job at the Harlem Academy in 1924 and began to publish poetry. He won the Alexander Pushkin Prize of Opportunity, a journal published by the National Urban League, in 1926 and 1927 and the Crisis (official journal of the NAACP) Poetry Prize in 1926. His career soon intersected that of the poet Langston Hughes with whom he became a close friend and sometime collaborator In Harlem Bontemps also ...

Article

Thomas Clarkin

scholar and diplomat, was born Ralph Johnson Bunche in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Fred Bunch, a barber, and Olive Agnes Johnson. His grandmother added an “e” to the family's last name following a move to Los Angeles, California. Because his family moved frequently, Bunche attended a number of public schools before graduating first in his class from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles in 1922. He majored in Political Science at the University of California, Southern Branch (now University of California, Los Angeles [UCLA]), graduating summa cum laude and serving as class valedictorian in 1927. He continued his studies in political science at Harvard, receiving his MA in 1928, and then taught at Howard University in Washington, D.C., while working toward his PhD at Harvard. In 1930 he married Ruth Ethel Harris they had three children Bunche traveled to Europe and Africa researching ...

Article

Joseph C. Heim

scholar, university professor, diplomat, UN administrator, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. In the 1950s and 1960s Bunche was the most visible African American on the world stage. But his accomplishments were far in the future when he was born in modest circumstances in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Fred Bunche, a barber, and Olive Bunche. His parents, however, were constantly in poor health, and after their early deaths Bunche was raised by his grandmother, Lucy Johnson, in Los Angeles.

His grandmother s diligence and inspiration guided and shaped Bunche s youth and he compiled a record of stellar achievement both in athletics he later was a guard on the basketball team of the University of California at Los Angeles UCLA and in academics This he did while holding numerous jobs from delivering newspapers to laying carpets on merchant ships His early years also ...

Article

crystal am nelson

to Joseph Cassey Bustill, an educator, conductor on the Underground Railroad, and founder of the First Colored Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Sarah Humphrey, who was a member of a band of Chippewa Indians from Niagara Falls, New York. Anna’s exact birthday and death are unknown, as are many of the details of her life, such as where she was educated and whom she married, though her husband’s surname was Smith. However, her genealogy offers clues to understanding her reasons for becoming an educator and historian of not only her family, but also of the black bourgeoisie in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. As a fourth generation Bustill, Anna was born into a prominent Philadelphia family of intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and abolitionists, including her second cousin singer, actor, and activist Paul Robeson, by her first cousin Maria Louisa Bustill Robeson In addition to her father among her most ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author, was born Leon DeCosta Dash Jr. in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the son of Leon Dash Sr. and Ruth Dash. His father worked as a postal clerk (and eventually a supervisor) and his mother was employed as an administrator for New York City's Health Department. Dash was raised in the Bronx and Harlem, New York, and originally aspired to become a lawyer. His interest shifted to journalism while he worked as an editor of the school newspaper at Lincoln University, a historically black college in Pennsylvania. He studied at Lincoln for two and a half years before transferring to Howard University in Washington, D.C., in the 1960s. He found work steam-cleaning building exteriors, but in winter the work was too challenging for him, so in 1965 he started working indoors at the Washington Post as a copy person He worked the lobster shift ...

Article

Gerald Horne

American social scientist, author, educator, civil rights leader, and Pan-Africanist, was born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois on 23 February 1868 to Alfred Du Bois and Mary Silvina Burghardt Du Bois, in the predominantly white hamlet of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. William’s maternal great-great-grandfather, Tom Burghardt, born in West Africa in the early 1730s, was captured and brought to America by Dutch slavers. Du Bois would later recall hearing in his childhood a West African song that was perhaps of Senegambian Wolof origin.

Du Bois had a fondness for his New England birthplace and by his own account had a relatively charmed childhood An only child abandoned by his father whom he did not remember his doting mother and relatives and supportive teachers muted the pangs of racism sharpened by Reconstruction These heady years permeated the nation not just the South Hence his early years were shaped by genteel poverty Victorian ...

Article

David Levering Lewis

Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, W. E. B. Du Bois earned undergraduate degrees at Fisk University (1885) and Harvard (1890), and a doctorate in history from Harvard in 1895. Du Bois taught history and economics at Atlanta University in 1897–1910 and 1934–44. From 1910 to 1934, he served as founding editor of the Crisis, the official organ of the new National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

When his most influential book, The Souls of Black Folk, was published in 1903, Du Bois became the premier architect of the civil rights movement in the United States and among the first thinkers to grasp the international implications of the struggle for racial justice. The problem of the twentieth century, he wrote then, was the problem of the “color‐line.”

Du Bois s legacy is complex A severe critic of racial ...

Article

Thomas C. Holt

scholar, writer, editor, and civil rights pioneer, was born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the son of Mary Silvina Burghardt, a domestic worker, and Alfred Du Bois a barber and itinerant laborer In later life Du Bois made a close study of his family origins weaving them rhetorically and conceptually if not always accurately into almost everything he wrote Born in Haiti and descended from mixed race Bahamian slaves Alfred Du Bois enlisted during the Civil War as a private in a New York regiment of the Union army but appears to have deserted shortly afterward He also deserted the family less than two years after his son s birth leaving him to be reared by his mother and the extended Burghardt kin Long resident in New England the Burghardts descended from a freedman of Dutch slave origin who had ...

Article

Arnold Rampersad

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 1868. He was born into a small community of blacks who had settled in the region since at least the Revolutionary War, in which an ancestor had fought. His mother, Mary Sylvina Burghardt, married a restless young visitor to the region, Alfred Du Bois, who disappeared soon after the birth of his son. Du Bois grew up a thorough New Englander, as he recalled, a member of the Congregational Church and a star student in the local schools, where he was encouraged to excel.

In 1885 he left Great Barrington for Nashville Tennessee to enter Fisk University The racism of the South appalled him No one but a Negro going into the South without previous experience of color caste can have any conception of its barbarism Nevertheless he enjoyed life at Fisk from which ...

Article

Jon-Christian Suggs and Dale Edwyna Smith

[This article contains three subentries, on Du Bois's life, on his historical writing, and on his literary writing.]

Article

William Jordan

(1868–1963), African-American scholar, polemicist, activist, and intellectual. Born and reared in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois graduated from Fisk University in 1888. Enrolling as a junior at Harvard, he remained to earn a Ph.D. in history in 1895, with two years of study (1892–1894) at the University of Berlin. In 1896, Harvard published his dissertation on the suppression of the African slave trade. That same year, during a brief teaching stint at Wilberforce University in Ohio, he married a student, Nina Gomer; they had two children. A fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania (1896–1897) resulted in a pathbreaking sociological study, The Philadelphia Negro (1899). From 1897 to 1910, he taught sociology at Atlanta University.

At this time, most southern blacks could not vote and faced racial segregation in public facilities; scores were lynched each year. Before 1900 ...

Article

Michelle Gueraldi

Florestan Fernandes strongly influenced the study of race relations in Brazil by documenting the importance of race in Brazilian society and the existence of racial discrimination. He was one of a group of social scientists who challenged the Brazilian myth of racial democracy, which held that racism was not a significant factor in Brazilian society. Fernandes criticized what he termed the Brazilian “prejudice of having no prejudice.” Together with other Brazilian and foreign social scientists, partly inspired and funded by the UNESCO Race Relations Project of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, Fernandes revolutionized the study of race. According to fellow social scientist Carlos Hasenbalg, Fernandes “substantiated the significance of racism and racial discrimination in industrial and capitalist Brazil, but saw them as an archaic survival from the seigniorial, pre-capitalist and pre-industrial past.”

Fernandes was born in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, in 1920 His ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

historian, was born Evelyn Titania Brooks in Washington, D.C., the younger of two daughters of Dr. Albert Neal Dow Brooks, a high school principal and historian, and Alma Elaine Campbell, a high school history teacher who later served as the supervisor for history in the Washington, D.C., public school system. The teaching and writing of history played a central role in the Brooks household. Albert N. D. Brooks served as the secretary-treasurer of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and as the editor of that organization's Negro History Bulletin. Albert Brooks was the youngest of ten children of the Reverend Walter Henderson Brooks, born a slave in Virginia in the 1850s and still alive at his granddaughter Evelyn's birth. A prominent Baptist minister and poet, Walter H. Brooks published an article in one of the earliest volumes of Carter Godwin Woodson ...

Article

Pero Gaglo Dagbovie

A scholar of national renown, Darlene Clark Hine has published pathbreaking scholarship; introduced and developed new and existing fields of scholarly inquiries; provided leadership for various groups of scholars; and mentored and trained several generations of historians. She served as president of the Organization of American Historians (2001-2002) and the Southern Historical Association (2002-2003). During her productive, decades-long career as a professional historian, Hine has taught at eight different universities, published several books, cowritten and coedited a dozen scholarly volumes, edited three major works, written more than fifty journal articles and chapters in anthologies, presented more than sixty papers in professional venues, lectured at universities all over the United States, and served on countless programming, advisory, and nominating committees and editorial boards. Since the mid-1980s, Hine has received numerous grants, awards, and honors, including honorary doctorates from Purdue University and Buffalo State College, the Detroit News ...

Article

Octávio Ianni was born in a small town, Itú, São Paulo, in southeastern Brazil. He was one of Brazil's most prestigious social scientists, expanding his work to the fields of sociology, anthropology, and economics. He completed his doctorate at the University of São Paulo (USP), where he also taught. He was also a visiting professor at several foreign universities, such as Columbia (United States), Oxford (England), Complutense (Spain), and UNAM (Mexico). He also taught at the Catholic University and at UNICAMP in Brazil. During the period of military dictatorship (1964–1985), Ianni was forcibly retired from teaching at USP for about ten years; the government considered racial studies to be subversive. According to Pierre-Michel Fontaine's Race, Class and Power in Brazil, Ianni “emphasized the adaptation of racism, having been engendered by the system of slavery, to the structural characteristics of capitalism.”

Some of Ianni s most ...

Article

Yvette Walker

poet, essayist, critic, publisher, and educator. Don L. Lee was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was raised in Detroit by his mother, Maxine Lee, who died of a drug overdose when he was sixteen years old. He has attributed his early race consciousness and self-awareness to his upbringing by his mother and his time as an apprentice and curator at the DuSable Museum of African History in Chicago in 1963. Influenced by the poets Amiri Baraka and Gwendolyn Brooks, Don L. Lee emerged as a major literary artist of the 1960s. His formal education includes undergraduate studies at various universities in Chicago and graduate school at the University of Iowa. Lee took a Swahili name, Haki R. Madhubuti, in 1973.

Madhubuti is one of the defining artists of the Black Arts Movement a cultural phenomenon of the 1960s and 1970s ...