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Article

Robert Fikes

writer, was born Jervis Beresford Anderson in the rural village of Chatham, Jamaica, in the British West Indies, to Peter Anderson, a building contractor, and Ethlyn Allen, a homemaker. Peter Anderson enforced a strict Baptist upbringing on his son. Having passed a series of rigorous qualifying exams, within days after graduating from Kingston Technical School, a high school affiliated with the University of the West Indies, Jervis was hired as a trainee journalist at the Daily Gleaner, the most revered and influential newspaper on the island. He left its employ after a year—uncomfortable with the newspaper's conservatism and acquiescence to the colonial regime—and joined the writers' staff at Public Opinion a weekly that advocated self rule and was closely allied with the People s National Party Having rejected the stern religion of his father and the unquestioning allegiance to the British Crown manifested by his ...

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Nicole Sealey

novelist, philosopher, and scholar was born in London, England, to Joe Appiah, a Ghanaian barrister and statesman, and Peggy Cripps, novelist and daughter of Sir Stafford Cripps, a British statesman. Not long after Appiah's birth, his family relocated to Ghana, where he attended primary school. After the political imprisonment of his father by then‐president Kwame Nkrumah, Appiah returned to England. There he completed his secondary education at Bryanston, a British boarding school.

Influenced by his mother's affinity for the literary arts, Appiah read works of authors such as Chinua Achebe, D. H. Lawrence, and Tolstoy. Visitors to the Appiah residence included the Pan‐Africanist authors and theorists C. L. R. James and Richard Wright. Appiah's multiethnic family and early fascination with literature helped shape his identity and his world view. In 1972 he entered Cambridge University where he earned both a BA and ...

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James Jankowski

Egyptian journalist, poet, and literary critic, was born in the Aswan region of Upper Egypt on 28 June 1889. His father, an archivist and money-changer, was Egyptian, and his mother was of Kurdish descent. ʿAqqad attended state primary school in Aswan, but since Aswan had no secondary school, his higher education was largely self-generated. With an inquisitive mind, and literate in Arabic, and to a lesser degree English (although his facility with that language improved over time), he read widely in his youth and afterward. An autodidact, his voluminous writings of later years demonstrate an interest in, and at least some knowledge of, a wide range of subjects.

In 1904 ʿAqqad left Aswan He had a varied career in the decade prior to World War I he worked in the Egyptian state bureaucracy possibly attending the School of Arts and Crafts as well as a school for telegraphers ...

Article

Michael Awkward

In an October 1985Pennsylvania Gazette profile, Houston A. Baker, Jr., speaks of his intellectual journey from graduate studies in late-Victorian literature to the then relatively uncharted field of African American literature as “a great awakening and a conversion experience rolled into one.” Baker's blues journey home has resulted in the field's richest, most consistently probing body of work, and has established him as one of a handful of preeminent scholars of American literature to have emerged in the wake of the civil rights movement struggles of the 1960s.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Baker matriculated at Howard University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and then earned a PhD in English at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1968. After brief stints at Yale University, the site of his conversion, and the University of Virginia, Baker moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1974 ...

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crystal am nelson

photographer, writer, and historian, was born Anthony Barboza in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to Lillian Barboza, a homemaker, and Anthony Barboza Sr., a Fuller Brush salesman. Anthony Jr. was one of eight sons, one of whom was also an award-winning photographer and two of whom were well-known journalists. Barboza began his career in 1964, when he studied under Roy DeCarava in New York City at the Kamoinge Workshop, cofounded in 1963 as a response to the negative and biased representation of African Americans in mainstream media, with DeCarava serving as Kamoinge's first director. The group, which continued into the twenty-first century as Kamoinge, Inc., used photography to document and celebrate African American experiences.

Between 1965 and 1968 Barboza served as a photojournalist in the United States Navy Upon opening his commercial photo studio in New York City a year after being discharged he began shooting ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Delilah Isontium Beasley was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Margaret and Daniel Beasley. She began her career in journalism by writing for the Cleveland Gazette at age twelve; by age fifteen she had a regular column in the Sunday Cincinnati Enquirer. Following the death of her parents while she was still a teenager, Beasley looked for another full-time job to support herself, and she pursued a career as a trained masseuse. But when she followed a client to California in 1910, she resumed her original interest in journalism.

Beasley wrote a weekly column for the Sunday Oakland Tribune called “Activities Among Negroes” for the next twenty years. She spoke out against Racial Stereotypes and discrimination throughout her career. One of her most significant contributions to journalism was her campaign to stop the use of derogatory terms, such as darky and nigger to refer to African ...

Article

Kristal Brent Zook

journalist and historian of the early West, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the eldest of five children of Daniel Beasley, an engineer, and Margaret (Heines) Beasley, a homemaker. Although little is known about her childhood, at the age of twelve Beasley published her first writings in the black-owned newspaper, the Cleveland Gazette. By the time she was fifteen she was working as a columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, becoming the first African American woman to write for a mainstream newspaper on a regular basis.

Beasley lost both parents as a teenager and was forced to take a full-time job working as a domestic laborer for the family of a white judge named Hagan. Her career then took several unusual turns as Beasley, who was described by biographer Lorraine Crouchett as short well proportioned and speaking in a shrill light voice perhaps because of a chronic hearing ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

book collector, historian, and journalist, was born in Philadelphia to George Bolivar, and Elizabeth LeCount Proctor Bolivar. There is some uncertainty about his precise year of birth, with historians suggesting 1844 (Silcox) or 1849 (Welborn), while census data inclines toward an 1847 date. His father was employed as a sailmaker by James Forten, a local businessman and founder of the Philadelphia Library Company of Colored Persons.

The family numbered themselves among the “O.P.”—Old Philadelphians—of the African American community. George Bolivar had been born in Philadelphia, to a Pennsylvania-born mother and a father from North Carolina. Elizabeth Bolivar was born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Maryland (1850 census). In 1850George Bolivar owned real estate valued at $8,000, while a North Carolina–born cousin, Nicholas Bolivar, lived with the family, working as a tailor. Throughout Bolivar s life there were relatives or ...

Article

John C. Gruesser

Born a slave in Maryland, John Edward Bruce grew up in Washington, D.C. Developing an interest in journalism, he worked as a general helper in the office of the Washington correspondent for the New York Times in 1874. By the time Bruce was twenty he was writing for newspapers, using the pen name “Rising Sun”, and in 1879 he started his own paper, the Argus, in Washington, D.C. In 1884 Bruce began writing under the name “Bruce Grit” in the Cleveland Gazette and the New York Age, eventually becoming one of the most widely read and influential African American journalists of his era. In his writings and speeches, Bruce decried mixed-race marriages, denounced Euro-American imperialism, aggressively promoted race pride and solidarity, championed self-help, and advocated the study of black history to combat the anti-Negro rhetoric of the post-Reconstruction period.

Bruce served as a conduit linking people ...

Article

David Alvin Canton

John Edward Bruce was born in Piscataway, Maryland, the son of Martha Allen Clark and Robert Bruce, who were both enslaved Africans. In 1859Major Harvey Griffin, Robert Bruce's slaveholder, sold him to a Georgia slaveholder. Raised by his mother, Bruce lived in Maryland until 1861 when Union troops marching through Maryland freed him and his mother, taking them to Washington, D.C., where Bruce lived until 1892. In 1865 Bruce's mother worked as a domestic in Stratford, Connecticut, where Bruce received his early education in an integrated school. One year later they returned to Washington, where Bruce continued his education. Although he did not complete high school, he enrolled in a course at Howard University in 1872. Bruce married Lucy Pinkwood, an opera singer from Washington, D.C. They had no children. In 1895 Bruce married Florence Adelaide Bishop with whom he had ...

Article

David Alvin Canton

journalist and historian, was born in Piscataway, Maryland, the son of Martha Allen Clark and Robert Bruce, who were both enslaved Africans. In 1859Major Harvey Griffin, Robert Bruce's owner, sold Robert to a Georgia slaveholder. Raised by his mother, John lived in Maryland until 1861, when Union troops marching through Maryland freed him and his mother, taking them to Washington, D.C., where John lived until 1892. In 1865 John's mother worked as a domestic in Stratford, Connecticut, where her son received his early education in an integrated school. One year later they returned to Washington, D.C., where John continued his education. Although he did not complete high school, he enrolled in a course at Howard University in 1872. John married Lucy Pinkwood, an opera singer from Washington, D.C. In 1895 he married Florence Adelaide Bishop, with whom he had one child.

Bruce began ...

Article

Ernest Cole

Sierra Leonean journalist, poet, and literary scholar, was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He studied at the universities of Oregon and Wisconsin before returning to Sierra Leone where he worked as a journalist. He taught at the universities of Maiduguri in Nigeria and the University of the Philippines but later returned to Sierra Leone and continued his work as a journalist and editor of the radical newspaper The Vanguard. Cheney-Coker has published three books of poetry: Concerto for an Exile in 1973, The Graveyard Also Has Teeth in 1980, and The Blood in the Desert’s Eyes in 1990. He also published a novel, The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar, in 1990 which won the African Commonwealth Writer’s Prize in 1991.

The poetry of Syl Cheney Coker falls within the period of modern writing in Sierra Leone The influence of modern poets like W B Yeats ...

Article

Stephen Gilroy Hall

lawyer and historian, was born a slave in Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of Willis Hodges Cromwell, a ferry operator, and Elizabeth Carney. In 1851Cromwell's father purchased the family's freedom and moved to West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Cromwell attended public school. In 1856 he was admitted to the Preparatory Department of the Institute of Colored Youth. Graduating in 1864, he embarked on a teaching career. He taught in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and in 1865 opened a private school in Portsmouth, Virginia. Cromwell left teaching temporarily after an assault in which he was shot at and his school burned down. He returned to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was employed by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Intellectual Improvement of Colored People. Then he served as an agent for the American Missionary Association and went back to Virginia. In 1867 he became active in local politics serving as a ...

Article

Alice Bernstein

journalist, editor, and commentator, was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the eldest of four children and the only son of Martha Brownlee Curry, a domestic worker, and Homer Lee Curry, an automobile mechanic. Curry's parents divorced when he was a boy, and he and his sisters were raised in public housing by their stepfather, William Henry Polk, a dumptruck driver. Polk, an avid reader of black newspapers with a deep interest in current events beyond the South, was a major influence in Curry's life. Other important influences were his neighbors, including Miss Bessie and Miss Dot, and his high school principal McDonald Hughes, who encouraged children to pursue higher education and to overcome the hardships of segregation. Curry was also inspired by the civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Louis Jackson Sr., Ralph Abernathy, Cordy Tindell (C. T.) Vivian, Fred ...

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

Charles Rosenberg

author, advocate for the civil rights of African Americans in Louisiana, an organizer of the Citizen's Committee that launched the Plessy v. Ferguson legal challenge to racial segregation in public transportation, was the son of Jeremie Desdunes and Henriette Gaillard Desdunes.

Rodolphe Desdunes's grandson, Theodore Frere, recalled in 1971 that Jeremie Desdunes was Haitian and Henriette from Cuba; the couple reported in the 1880 census that both were born in Louisiana, Jeremie's mother was born in Cuba, and Henriette's father in France. All the Desdunes' sons consistently reported that their parents were both born in Louisiana (Census 1880, 1900, 1920). The Desdunes family was part of New Orleans's large community of gens de couleur libre—free people of color, primarily French-speaking. The 1840 census lists a Jeremie Des Dunes in the Third District of New Orleans whose household included five free colored males and ...

Article

Augustus Dill was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, son of John Jackson and Elizabeth (Stratton) Dill. He received a B.A. in 1906 from Atlanta University, where he was a student of W. E. B. Du Bois. On Du Bois's advice, Dill went on to earn a second B.A. at Harvard University in 1908.

Dill returned to Atlanta to assist Du Bois on his sociological project of documenting all dimensions of black life in American society. From 1911 to 1915 he coedited four major studies. In 1910, Dill replaced his mentor as associate professor of sociology when Du Bois left Atlanta University to found The Crisis, the journal of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1913, Du Bois hired Dill as business manager for The Crisis, a post he remained in until 1928 Arrested that year in New ...

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

Richard A. Long

Born in Atlanta but reared in Detroit where he graduated from Wayne State University, Hoyt Fuller embarked on a career in journalism and editing. He held positions with the Michigan Chronicle, the Detroit Tribune, and Collier's Encyclopedia, among others. Increasingly frustrated by American racism, he went abroad in 1957, living in France and in Spain; later, attracted by the anticolonial stance of Sekou Toure of Guinea, he travelled in Africa, an experience evoked in his only book, a collection of essays, Return to Africa (1971). Fuller returned to the United States in 1960.

Fuller had worked briefly as an associate editor at the monthly Ebony in 1954 before going abroad, and when Ebony publisher John Johnson decided to revive the periodical Negro Digest in 1961 he offered Fuller the job of editing it Fuller accepted the position but rejected the digest format ...

Article

James A. Miller

editor and literary critic, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Thomas Fuller and Lillie Beatrice Ellafair Thomas. A member of the African American middle class, Fuller was raised in Detroit, Michigan, and came of age against the backdrop of the violent race riots in that city in 1943.

Fuller attended Wayne State University in Detroit, where he received his BA in 1950. As a student, he was deeply influenced by Fred Hart Williams, a historian who specialized in the experiences of blacks in the Michigan-Ontario area and who founded what would later be known as the Hackley Memorial Collection of Black Arts at the Detroit Public Library. Williams introduced Fuller to regional black history and to African history, beginning Fuller's deep and abiding commitment to African affairs.

Fuller worked as a reporter for the Detroit Tribune from 1949 to 1951 and as ...