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Vincent Carretta

servant to Samuel Johnson, was the son of an unidentified enslaved woman in Jamaica. His father may have been his owner, Richard Bathurst, a colonel in the Jamaica militia. Barber’s slave name, Quashey, suggests that his mother may have come from the Akan-speaking area of Africa that is now Ghana. Quashey was one of only four slaves Colonel Bathurst kept when he sold his 2,600-acre sugar plantation and 140 slaves in Jamaica in 1749. Barber later recalled having been 7 or 8 years old when Colonel Bathurst brought him to London, England, in 1750 to live with his son, Dr. Richard Bathurst, a close friend of Samuel Johnson. Johnson was soon to become the most eminent man of letters in the British Empire.

Colonel Bathurst had Quashey baptized and renamed Francis Barber in London The date and place of his baptism are unknown He sent Barber to Yorkshire for ...

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Zoe Trodd

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Eric Bennett

The son of the first African American professor at Princeton University, Anthony Davis studied classical music as a child in New York and as an undergraduate at Yale University he played free-jazz with Anthony Braxton. After earning his B.A. at Yale in 1975, Davis moved to New York City, where he supported himself as a Jazz pianist. As Davis developed musically, his compositions deviated from traditional jazz. He often abandoned improvisation and drew elements from Western classical music and African and South Asian rhythms. His recordings from this period include Hidden Voices (1979) and Lady of the Mirrors (1981). In 1981 Davis formed an eight-piece ensemble, Episteme, whose repertoire included a combination of improvised and scored music, blurring the distinction between jazz and classical music.

In the 1980s Davis began focusing much of his work on historical subjects. Middle Passage (1984 ...

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Paul A. Minifee

The second of eight children born to Caroline and Jermain Loguen, Helen Amelia Loguen grew up in Syracuse, New York, where her parents were heavily involved in the abolitionist movement. Educated by her mother and local public schools, Amelia studied chemistry, French, and trigonometry. Her father was a bishop of the American Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church and a prominent abolitionist, who employed their home as a depot for fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad and opened schools for African Americans in Utica and Syracuse. Amelia's mother came from a prosperous family of farmers in Busti, New York. Caroline's father, William Storum was a free black and one of three citizens in Chautauqua County to vote for abolitionists evidencing his politics and prosperity since New York required blacks to own at least $250 of property in order to vote An active abolitionist himself Storum utilized his farm as ...

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Leigh Fought

Helen Pitts was born in Honeoye, New York, the daughter of the white abolitionists Gideon and Jane Wills Pitts. Her father began working with the renowned abolitionist and escaped slave Frederick Douglass in 1846. Thus, from an early age Helen knew of Douglass and his work. Her parents, wealthy enough to pursue their progressive ideals, ensured that she and her sisters, Eva and Jane, received a better education than most girls of the era. Although few institutions of higher learning accepted women students, Eva attended Cornell and Helen and Jane both attended Mount Holyoke College. Helen graduated in 1859.

Reconstruction offered Helen the opportunity to combine her education with her activism. She moved to Norfolk, Virginia, to teach in a school for freed slaves in 1863 The swampy climate there took its toll on her health and the violent hostility faced by the African American ...

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Laura Murphy

writer, sailor, soldier, teacher, and minister, was one of ten children born in North Carolina to Abel Ferebee, a slave and minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, and Chloe (maiden name unknown), a slave. When London was young his mother was sold, apparently because of her unwillingness to submit to her master and her ability to beat him in a fight. She was sold to a speculator, who offered to sell her to her husband or his master, who had allowed Ferebee to hire himself out to a local farmer so that they both profited from his labor. When she was subsequently bought by one of the two men—it is unclear which—London and two of his siblings were allowed to move with her, though they all remained enslaved.

Once he was old enough to begin laboring London was immediately set to ...

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crystal am nelson

community leader and musician, was born Occramer Marycoo in West Africa. Although his country of origin is unknown, a 1757 ship manifest shows that he was brought to America at the age of fourteen. He was on one of that year's seven slaving voyages that brought a total of 831 African slaves to Rhode Island. Gardner was one of the 106,544 slaves brought to Newport, Rhode Island, between 1709 and 1807. Caleb Gardner, a white merchant and member of the principal slave-trading team Briggs & Gardner, bought the teenage Marycoo and baptized him into the Congregational faith as Newport Gardner.

The forced exposure to Christianity aided Gardner s rise to a leadership position in the New World He quickly learned English from daily Bible studies with his master who freed Gardner after overhearing him pray for emancipation Upon gaining his freedom Gardner combined his new religious fervor with ...

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Eric Gardner

activist and educator, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Nothing is known of his parentage or youth. He was probably the James Gilliard listed in the 1860 Federal Census of Stockton, California; if this is the case, he was a barber, his wife was named Charlotte (c. 1835– ?), and had a step-daughter, Mary E. Jones (c. 1848– ?). In the late 1860s Gilliard worked as a teacher and sometime-minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and spent time in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. He wrote several short pieces for the San Francisco Elevator—sometimes under his full name and sometimes using simply “J. E. M.”—and was noted by the editor Philip Bell as one of the weekly's best contributors (along with Thomas Detter and Jennie Carter). Gilliard was even occasionally noted as the paper's “associate editor.”

Gilliard lectured throughout California in 1870 ...

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William L. Andrews

Jacob D. Green was born a slave in Queen Anne's County, Maryland, and during his boyhood served as a house servant on a large plantation owned by Judge Charles Earle. When he was twelve years old his mother was sold; he never saw her again. He began thinking of escape while a teenager but did not attempt it because religious teachings convinced him that running away from his master would be a sinful act. When his wife was sold away from him in 1839, however, Green made the first of three escape attempts, the last of which took him from Kentucky to Toronto, Canada, in 1848 and soon thereafter to England. Working as an antislavery lecturer, Green published his forty-three page Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green, a Runaway Slave in England in 1864. According to its title page, eight thousand copies of Green's Narrative were ...

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Julia Sun-Joo Lee

slave and antislavery lecturer, was born in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. The names of his parents are unknown, but he is recorded as the property of Judge Charles Earle. In Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green, a Runaway Slave, from Kentucky (1864), Green recounts that as a child he was employed as an errand boy, a cowherd, and a houseboy. When he was about twelve years old, his mother was sold to a trader named Woodfork. Green never saw her again.

As a teenager Green began to attend a black church. He was taught to defer to white men and to accept abuse without retaliation. Green witnessed the brutal flogging of slaves and was himself flogged by his master for disobedience. At age seventeen Green fell in love with a young woman named Mary who was owned by Dr. Tillotson a neighboring slave ...

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Michael E. Latham

economist, development expert, and Nobel Laureate, was born William Arthur Lewis on St. Lucia in the West Indies, the son of George Lewis and Ida Barton teachers When Lewis was only seven his father died and his mother opened a shop to help support her family of five sons Financially assisted by the Anglican Church and inspired by his mother s unrelenting determination the precocious youngster completed the studies required for university admission at fourteen and worked as a government clerk for four years At eighteen Lewis won the St Lucia government scholarship for study in Britain and elected to attend the London School of Economics LSE Although he had wanted to be an engineer Lewis knew that neither local industry nor the British government hired blacks in that field Interested in business and curious about the nature of economics he chose instead to pursue a ...

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Born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Albert John Luthuli was educated at the mission school in which he later taught (1921–1936). The son of well-respected Zulu parents, Luthuli was elected chief of the Zulu Abasemakholweni ethnic group in Groutville in 1936. He joined the African National Congress, a black political group, in 1946 and took an increasingly active role in campaigns to abolish Apartheid, the system of racial segregation in South Africa. In 1952 he was removed as chief by the South African government, which opposed his activities, and was forbidden to enter major South African cities and towns for one year. That same year he was elected president-general of the African National Congress. Because of his continued political activities, he was restricted to his farm in Groutville for two years in 1953, and again in 1959 for five years For ...

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Dorothy C. Woodson

South African teacher, Zulu chief, political leader, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born in Rhodesia around 1898 of South African (Zulu) parentage. His mother, Mtonya Gumede, was born and raised in the Royal Kraal of Cetshewayo, the Zulu king. His father, John Luthuli, was the elected chief of Groutville, home of the Umvoti Mission, an American Board of Commissioners station near Stanger, north of Durban, in what is now Kwa-Zulu Natal. He attended various local schools and was later awarded a two-year teacher-training scholarship at Adams College. Luthuli remained at Adams as a teacher, becoming one of only two African teachers at the school, the other being Z. K. Matthews (1901–1968). He married Nokukhanya Bhengu in 1927, and they had seven children.

In 1936 Luthuli reluctantly left Adams College and returned to Groutville after being elected to the chieftainship of the Umvoti Mission Reserve during which time he ...

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Peter Limb

Albert John (“Mvumbi”) Lutuli (1898–1967) was a distinguished South African political leader who led opposition to apartheid in the 1950s and early 1960s. He was President of the African National Congress (ANC), a Zulu chief, teacher, and the first African awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His political thought combined Christianity, African nationalism, and liberalism in a form typical of the ANC of the time.

Lutuli was born in 1898 to Zulu parents in Bulawayo in what is now Zimbabwe but moved back to South Africa where he received a mission education at Groutville School and Ohlange Institute near Durban Natal The young Lutuli soon became imbued with the Christian ethics that would guide his life His early years were also marked by commitment to the teaching discipline and his love of Zulu culture and soccer After qualifying as an elementary school teacher from Edendale Methodist ...

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Meredith Broussard

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and newspaper editor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jerry A. Moore, an electrician and stationary engineer at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and the Pyramid Tire Retreading Co., and homemaker Hura May Harrington. Moore grew up in West Philadelphia, where he attended Philadelphia's Overbrook High School and studied trumpet and French horn at the Settlement Music School. After graduating in 1958, he played jazz professionally for a year before enlisting in the U.S. Army, where he served as a medic. Returning to Philadelphia after being discharged from the Army in 1962, Moore applied for a job as a copy boy at the Philadelphia Inquirer—“Because I could type,” he said (telephone interview with subject, April 2007).

When Moore began as a copy clerk he was responsible for running copy to editors and reporters and was one of only three ...

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Kimberly Burnett

writer and editor. Born Chloe Anthony Wofford in 1931, Toni Morrison grew up in Lorain, Ohio, and had an older sister and two younger brothers. Her parents, George and Ramah Wofford, who had migrated to the steel-mill town from the South, provided Morrison with a background in African American folklore as well as an understanding of the importance of maintaining black community. After graduating from high school, Morrison left Lorain in 1949 to attend Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C.; during her time as an undergraduate, Morrison had the opportunity to travel throughout the South with the Howard University Players. After changing her first name to Toni, Morrison graduated from Howard in 1953 with a BA in English and a minor in classics. By 1955 Morrison had completed her MA degree at Cornell University and begun teaching at Texas Southern University Two years ...

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Furaha D. Norton

In her bestselling novels as well as her nonfiction Toni Morrison has created a sweeping panorama of the diasporic black experience in America In novels whose settings range from the American rural South and the industrial and urban North to the western frontier and which cover historical periods from the colonial era through the contemporary period she has used African American history myth and folklore as well as sharp insight into human behavior and motivation to create stories and characters that establish the black experience in America as one of tremendous nuance and complexity In her often fragmented nonlinear narratives the specters of slavery and ongoing racial oppression and inequality are ever present along with astonishing resilience and humanity Morrison s work has inspired an entire generation of students and scholars and has changed how readers understand race and history in literature the postmodern novel and how writers use folklore ...

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Kristine A. Yohe

If Toni Morrison were to draw a map of her journeys of personal and creative exploration the result would show many overlapping trajectories Although Morrison has lived most of her life in the Northeast and Midwest her parents origins in the South particularly Georgia and Alabama have deeply influenced her cultural awareness After growing up in Lorain Ohio Morrison attended college in Washington D C had an extended stay in the Caribbean her former husband s home did graduate work and editing in upstate New York taught for a time in Houston Texas and even traveled to Stockholm Sweden to receive the Nobel Prize yet she has lived in New York City or its vicinity for the bulk of her adult life Likewise her literary works span the country and even the hemisphere the settings frequently drawn from her own experiences in the Midwest the South the Caribbean Florida New ...

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Nellie Y. McKay

Toni Morrison's many achievements include a Nobel Prize for literature in 1993, a Pulitzer Prize (1987), and the National Book Critics Circle and American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Awards (1977). Born and raised in Lorain, Ohio, Morrison was christened Chloe Anthony Wofford, a name she later changed. She studied English at Howard University (B.A., 1953) and Cornell University (M.A., 1955). She taught briefly at Texas Southern and Howard Universities, edited textbooks, and in 1968, with two sons from a short-lived, late-1950s marriage, moved to New York City as a senior editor at Random House, where she promoted the careers of several now well-known black writers. From 1971 to 1988 Morrison taught at the State University of New York at Albany then became Robert F Goheen Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University By the late 1990s she had ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

I'm interested in how men are educated, how women relate to each other, how we are able to love, how we balance political and personal forces, who survives in certain situations and who doesn't and, specifically, how these and other universal issues relate to African Americans. The search for love and identity runs through most everything I write.

In this comment from a 1992 interview Toni Morrison gives one description of the complex range of issues she explores in her work Morrison is widely recognized as one of the most influential American writers and her novels are taught in literature history women s studies and African American studies courses across the United States and around the world She has received numerous honorary degrees prizes and awards including the Nobel Prize in Literature Above all Morrison is known for her rich lyrical prose which fuses the rhythms and imagery of ...