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José Antonio Fernández Molina

was born in Sonsonate, currently located in El Salvador. Nothing is known of his early years, but his later actions and writings show that, despite his ethnic category of mulato, he acquired a cultural capital in writing, law, history, the Bible, and the symbolic figures common in Baroque Spanish literature. Abendaño was recognized as mulato letrado, a highly literate mulatto, at a time when literacy was rare among the African-descended population of Spanish America.

Although he had married Lucia Badillo, also from Sonsonate, by 1765 he already lived in Costa Rica He showed his knowledge of basic law regarding maritime trade in a trial related to a ship s contract This expertise probably came from earlier practice because Acajutla the main port on the Central American Pacific coast was an annex to his birthplace As a literate mulatto he became secretary for Juan José de la Madriz ...

Article

Congolese activist and prominent member of the Kwilu rebellion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was born in Malungu on the banks of the Kwilu River in the Belgian Congo on 15 August 1945. In 1963 she joined the armed uprising led by Pierre Mulele, the leader of the rebellion and the former minister of education in Patrice Lumumba’s cabinet.

Her mother, Labon, died in childbirth, so Abo, whose name means “mourning” in Kimbundu, was raised by her adoptive parents, Awaka and Mabiungu. Despite the violent protestations of her grandmother Aney, Abo started attending primary school in the village of Lukamba in 1952. She transferred to a boarding school at the Totshi mission at the age of nine. There she was baptized and renamed Léonie Hortense. In 1957 Abo and thirteen other young girls made up the first class of assistant midwives and pediatric nurses at ...

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Steven J. Niven

militia leader, was born in Georgia to parents whose names have not been recorded. Some sources list his name as Doc Adams. He was probably born a slave, as were the vast majority of African Americans in Augusta's cotton-rich hinterlands in the late 1830s; the 1840 U.S. census lists fewer than two hundred free blacks in Richmond County. As a carpenter Adams, like other slave artisans, may have been able to hire out his time, and he may have saved enough money to purchase his freedom. In any case Adams joined the Union army during the Civil War, and he acquired enough money to purchase five hundred acres of land—worth three thousand dollars—near Nashville, Georgia, where he lived for a time after hostilities ended in 1865. By 1872 he had returned to Augusta where he earned good wages working as a boss carpenter Adams was also involved ...

Article

of an islandwide slave revolt and anticolonial conspiracy, was probably born in Havana, Cuba. Little is known of his early life, but Aponte learned to read and was a gifted carpenter, a trade by which he earned a living. He was also a member of the free colored militia, a Spanish colonial institution created to supplement low numbers of white soldiers in the protection against piracy and coastal raids. Free colored militias provided men of African descent with an opportunity to develop a sense of solidarity along ethnoracial lines and gain social capital, perhaps even prestige. They therefore often came under suspicion from colonial and imperial officials. Aponte participated in a cabildo de nación (African ethnic association) called Shangó Teddún in Havana and was a devotee of the confraternity of the Virgin of Los Remedios. Many free and freed Afro-Cubans joined mutual aid organizations such as cabildos de nación ...

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Jane G. Landers

free barber and captain of the Battalion of Loyal Blacks of Havana, recruited and equipped at his own cost a black battalion to defend the Cuban city against Britain’s surprise attack in 1762. The men of his unit fought under a flag bearing the motto “Victory or Death.” During the American Revolution, Barba and other black troops again fought the British in New Orleans and Pensacola, in The Bahamas, and on Atlantic corsair expeditions.

In 1786 Barba married the wealthy María Isabel Aróstegui who brought a 6 000 peso dowry to the union and they made their home in the Guadalupe neighborhood outside the walled city They had two children and were able to give their daughter María Tranquilina a large dowry when she married Captain Manuel Salazar a member of Barba s battalion Barba s son José Silverio Guadalupe Barba was a carpenter and sublieutenant of the ...

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Mariana Isabel Lorenzetti

was born in Kalibali (Angola). According to the historian Julián Caceres Freyre (1984), Barbarín was brought in Buenos Aires as a slave at the end of the eighteenth century. In Argentina he married Simona Sarrete, with whom he had seven children. Alongside other enslaved men, Barbarín participated in the defense of the city during the so-called “English Invasions” (1806–1807) carried out by the British Empire in the territory of the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata, then under Spanish colonial rule. The scholar Carmen Bernand (2010) observes that after the victorious defense of the city the cabildo local government rewarded the slaves by liberating the wounded granting them an annual pension of six pesos and carrying out an emancipation lottery among the rest of the slaves It is estimated that more than 1 000 enslaved men participated in the defense of the ...

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Baptiste Bonnefoy

was born Mariano de la Cruz on 14 September 1749, the illegitimate son of an unknown father and Feliciana Barros, who was described on her son’s baptismal certificate as a parda, a designation commonly applied in eighteenth-century Chile to free men and women of African descent. In 1769, at age 20, he married Josefa Guerrero Morales (1748–1842), a mixed-race slave of Inés Echevarría Portillo.

Barros established his candle making workshop with the financial assistance of someone named José Baeza and with the earnings from this shop he was able to buy his wife s freedom They would ultimately have ten children Barros s status as a master candle maker allowed him to join the black militia a group of free men of African ancestry who were charged with patrolling the city at night and protecting its stores and warehouses He soon became an officer in ...

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Jane G. Landers

Haitian revolutionary, was born a slave in Cap Français (or Guarico, in Spanish), on the northern coast of Saint Domingue, in modern Haiti. Spanish documents give his parents' names as Carlos and Diana, and Biassou and his mother were the slaves of the Holy Fathers of Charity in Cap Français, where Biassou's mother worked in the Hospital of the Holy Fathers of Charity, probably as a laundress or cook. Biassou's father's owner and occupation are unknown.

In 1791 Biassou joined Boukman Dutty, a slave driver and coachman considered by the slaves to be a religious leader, and Jean‐François, also a slave from the Northern Plains of Saint Domingue, in leading the largest slave revolt in the Western Hemisphere on–the richest sugar colony of its day, French Saint Domingue. Boukman was killed in November of 1791 only three months into the revolt and Biassou and Jean François assumed command ...

Article

Sterling Recker

Rwandan Hutu politician and military leader, was born in Byumba Prefecture, Gizungu Commune, Rwanda. He is considered by many to be one of the key actors in the planning and implementation of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is one of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s (ICTR) most wanted perpetrators of the genocide. He has been accused of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, rape, persecution, and “serious violations of Common Article 3 and Additional Protocol II (killing, outrages upon personal dignity)” (The Hague).

Between 1990 and 1994 Bizimana was allegedly involved in the planning of the genocide, including the preparation of lists which contained the names of Tutsi and moderate Hutu. Bizimana initiated his plans for Rwanda when he was appointed Defense Minister in July 1993 As Defense Minister Bizimana had ...

Article

Matthew LeRiche

southern Sudanese rebel leader, was born in 1948 near Gorgrial in what was then the Bahr el Ghazal Province of Sudan. He was from the Dinka ethnic group. Just before Sudan was grantedn independence in 1955, Kerubino decided to cease his formal education to join with the growing armed resistance groups that were developing in a southern rebellion against the Khartoum government, eventually called Anyanya, under the command of Joseph Lagu. After the 1972 Addis Ababa Peace Agreement brought a conclusion to the Anyanya rebellion Kerubino was integrated into the Sudanese Armed Forces SAF He became a major in the SAF and was made the commander of the SAF detachment in Bor Southern Sudan While in Bor the home of John Garang the eventual leader of the Sudanese People s Liberation Army Movement SPLA M Kerubino became involved in a conspiracy of Southern SAF officers and soldiers in ...

Article

Curt Johnson

professional soccer player, later became the charismatic leader of the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA; Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) forces in eastern Angola during the Angolan Revolution. He subsequently broke with the leadership of the MPLA and led a faction opposed to MPLA President Dr. Agostinho Neto. In the Angolan Civil War, his faction was allied with Holden Roberto’s Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (FNLA; Front for the National Liberation of Angola) and Jonas Savimbi’s União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA; National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) against Neto’s MPLA.

Daniel Júlio Chipenda, an Ovimbundu, was the son of Jesse Chipenda, a prominent Protestant clergyman and activist who died in a Portuguese prison camp in 1969 The younger Chipenda associated with Angolan dissidents in Luanda He later was a popular student athlete at Coimbra University in Portugal 1958 ...

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Steven J. Niven

paramilitary leader and agrarian activist, was born of unknown parentage, perhaps in Mississippi. He appears in the historical record on two occasions. The first was in the bloody political conflict known as the “campaign of 1875,” when white Democrats used tactics ranging from fraud to intimidation to violence and assassinations to wrest control of state government from the Republican Party.

In early September 1875, Cromwell traveled to the town of Clinton in Hinds County, Mississippi, to address a gathering of at least six hundred black men—some sources claim there were more than a thousand—who had organized into armed, paramilitary political clubs to defend their families, the black community, and the few remaining white Republicans against violent intimidation by white Democrats and their allies. Like other communities in the central part of the Magnolia State, a slight majority of citizens in Clinton were African American. Black Clintonians, notably Charles ...

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Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva

Afro-Mexican former slave and captain for Puebla’s mulatto militia during the 1683 pirate raid on Veracruz, also served as a prominent confraternity leader and chile vendor. Felipe Monsón y Mojica’s staggering rise to prominence from slavery to the apex of colonial society is directly related to his influential wife and emancipator, Juana María de la Cruz.

Felipe Monsón was born a slave of partial African ancestry in early-seventeenth-century Puebla de los Ángeles (now Puebla, Mexico), thereby forming part of an exponentially growing mulatto population that served in the city’s elite households and textile mills. His mother was also likely a slave of African descent, and Magdalena Monsón de Mojica, a free mulatto woman, may have been his sister or a close niece. Unfortunately nothing else is known about his immediate family or childhood. At the time of his liberation (sometime before 1660 Monsón was owned by Joseph de Higuera ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Congolese warlord and religious leader, was born on 29 August 1964 under the name Frédéric Bitsamou in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. Details about his early life are extremely difficult to obtain. Etanislas Ngodi, author of the most detailed study of Ntoumi’s Nsilulu religious and political movement as of 2009 noted that he so frightened informants in Brazzaville that they refused to provide much concrete information about his family According to some sources Ntoumi was the eldest of eight children He completed his studies at the primary level he never attended middle school nor graduated from secondary school Religious pamphlets and the Bible were his favorite reading materials One individual close to Ntoumi noted It was prayer that counted for him most of all It didn t mean he wasn t intelligent at school On the contrary everyone who knew him thought he was brilliant Certainly his lack of ...

Article

Justin Wolfe

was born in 1683 in the barrio of San Felipe, León, the former colonial capital of Nicaragua, the son of the Spaniard Juan de Padilla and the mulatta Catarina de Mayorga. Mayorga was herself the illegitimate child of Francisco Díaz de Mayorga, a Spanish Creole noble and captain of the Spanish militia of the province of Nicaragua.

Antonio de Padilla resided in San Felipe, a barrio created in 1651, just three decades before his birth, as a separate zone for mestizos, mulattoes, and blacks (castas). The barrio was meant to keep castas out of the Spanish center of the capital while also separating them from the indigenous community of Subtiava, which abutted León. Most such neighborhoods in Spanish America failed to segregate Afro-descendants or to invigorate a distinct identity, but San Felipe benefited from the presence of a mulatto (pardo militia which served as the ...

Article

Ángela Lucía Agudelo González

was born in the city of Riohacha (Colombia) on 19 March 1778, the son of Andrés Padilla, a canoe builder, and Lucía López, of indigenous Wayuu descent. Padilla was recognized as a pardo (brown or mixed race) in the racial classification of Spanish colonial Gran Colombia. José was the oldest of five siblings: Francisco Javier, José Antonio, María Ignacia, and Magdalena. From his childhood on, José Padilla was always in contact with the nautical life, working and providing general services to the ships that arrived in his home port. As a result of family problems, he ran away and set off to work as a cabin boy when he was only 14 years old. He worked in this capacity until he was 19, when he returned to his hometown.

His residency in the city was short-lived, for by 1800 he had enlisted in the Royal Spanish Navy. On 21 ...

Article

Luis Amador and Dennis R. Hidalgo

recognized as one of the three founding fathers of the Dominican Republic, was born on 9 March 1817 in San Juan de la Maguana Santo Domingo His father was Narcisco Sánchez a descendant of enslaved people and his mother was Olaya del Rosario a light skinned African descended Creole who according to baptismal records was a free person of color Early in his life his family moved to the city of Santo Domingo Sánchez s father became a cattle rancher and a butcher His mother manufactured hair combs and worked as a hairdresser Sánchez helped his father in managing the business and he also learned his mother s trade There was no formal schooling but he was an eager autodidact who at various times attended private classes in French Latin and philosophy with elite educators like Don Nicolás Lugo and English with a British subject known as Mr Groot ...

Article

David Díaz Arias

considered the most important hero in Costa Rica’s official history. He was born in Alajuela, a province to the north of Costa Rica’s Central Valley, to a single mother named Manuela Carvajal—also known as Manuela Gallego—in 1831. His father’s name is unknown. According to an official document of 1857 based on Carvajal s testimony Santamaría s nickname in his hometown was El Erizo a reference to his kinky hair which was a popular way to refer to mulattoes and dark skinned men in Costa Rican society at that time There is little evidence to reconstruct Santamaría s childhood and his life before the event that made him a hero since he was poor and generated virtually no documentation to trace his life However Costa Rican researchers have found his certificate of baptism something like a birth certificate for Catholics in nineteenth century Costa Rica and several documents proving ...