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Robert S. Abbott was born in Frederica, Georgia, the son of Thomas and Flora (Butler) Abbott, both former slaves. From 1892 to 1896, he attended Hampton University in Virginia, where he learned the printing trade. Abbott moved to Chicago, Illinois, to attend Kent College of Law, graduating in 1898. He practiced law for a few years, then changed careers to become a journalist.

Abbott founded the Chicago Defender, a weekly newspaper in May 1905. He launched the paper with $25, and operated at first out of his kitchen. Under his direction, the Defender became the most widely circulated African American newspaper of its time and a leading voice in the fight against racism. Abbott cultivated a controversial, aggressive style, reporting on such issues as violence against blacks and police brutality. The Defender raised eyebrows with its antilynching slogan If you must die ...

Article

Clint C. Wilson

newspaper publisher, was born Robert Abbott in Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island, off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, the son of Thomas Abbott and Flora Butler, former slaves who operated a grocery store on St. Thomas Island. Thomas Abbott died the year after Robert was born, and Robert's mother moved to Savannah, where in 1874 she married John Herman Henry Sengstacke. Sengstacke was the son of a German father and a black American mother and, although born in the United States, was reared in Germany. He returned to the United States in 1869 and pursued careers in education, the clergy, and journalism. In the latter role Sengstacke became editor of the Woodville Times a black community weekly newspaper that served Savannah area residents Abbott s admiration for his stepfather inspired him to add the name Sengstacke to his own and to attempt to become a publisher in ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

journalist and public official, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the younger son of the Reverend Henry and Margaret Priscilla (Corbin) Adams. Their father administered a respected school in Louisville. Cyrus and his older brother, John Quincy Adams (1848–1922), received excellent educations, Cyrus graduating from preparatory school and college at Oberlin College. In 1877 Cyrus began to teach in the Louisville public schools, and soon pooled savings with his brother to open the weekly Louisville Bulletin. They ran the newspaper until 1885, when it was acquired by the American Baptist newspaper owned by William Henry Steward, chairman of trustees at State University, a black Baptist university in Louisville, where Cyrus taught German. Already a dedicated traveler, Cyrus had spent much of 1884 in Europe, and was also fluent in Italian, French, and Spanish.

Both brothers had served as Louisville correspondents for the Western Appeal ...

Article

Wilbert H. Ahern

John Quincy Adams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Henry Adams, a prominent minister and educator, and Margaret Corbin. Both his parents were free persons of color. Following private schooling in Wisconsin and Ohio, Adams graduated from Oberlin College. After a brief teaching stint in Louisville, in 1870 he followed his uncle, Joseph C. Corbin, to work in Arkansas in the Reconstruction. By 1874 he had risen from schoolteacher to assistant superintendent of public instruction. His lifelong activism in the Republican Party began in Arkansas; there he twice served as secretary to Republican state conventions, was elected as justice of the peace on the party ticket, and held the offices of engrossing clerk of the state senate and deputy commissioner of public works. The defeat of the Arkansas Republican Party in 1874 and the racial repression that followed led Adams to return ...

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Kevin D. Roberts

author of an autobiographical slave narrative, was born near Winchester, Virginia, to slave parents whose names are now unknown. Adams and his family were owned by George F. Calomese, a member of a prominent planter family. John Quincy Adams and his twin brother were one of four pairs of twins born to their mother, who had twenty-five children.

What we know of Adams's life comes from his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of John Quincy Adams (1872), which briefly traces Adams's life as a slave and as a freeman. Written in simple, plain language, the Narrative captures the tragedy of slavery in powerful ways. The most poignant events in Adams's early life involve the sale of family members and friends. In 1857 the sale of his twin brother Aaron and his sister Sallie left Adams very sad and heart broken Adams 28 Though crushed by the ...

Primary Source

Following the Civil War newly formed all black infantry regiments known as the Buffalo Soldiers served on the rolling Western frontier protecting settlers and clearing a path for the construction of railroads and towns For many African American men volunteering in the army for $13 a month was a substantial improvement over their prospects back home But more than that the participation of these soldiers in the expansion west helped to establish African American communities where none had existed before And in the case of Squadron Major Eugene P Frierson of the Tenth Cavalry the experience was an opportunity for adventure despite the hardships and continued discrimination from the whites whom the Buffalo Soldiers were protecting Frierson wrote a serialized story based on his time in the army one of the episodes is reproduced below Although it places little emphasis on character development plot or major themes the story carries ...

Article

Jonathan Morley

An imprint of Heinemann International Division publishing African literature, running from 1957 to 2003. In 1957Van Milne at Heinemann received a manuscript of Chinua Achebe'sThings Fall Apart, the seminal English‐language African novel. He commissioned the work, together with its sequel, No Longer At Ease, Cyprian Ekwensi'sBurning Grass, and a history book by Kenneth Kaunda, soon to be the democratic President of Zambia. The four books were published together in 1962, Achebe taking the editorship of the new series. Things Fall Apart would sell 8 million copies, translated into 32 languages.

Independent Africa's three Nobel Laureates for Literature—Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt), and Nadine Gordimer (South Africa)—were included, as were politicians such as Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya) and Nelson Mandela, whose collection of letters, speeches, articles, and trial transcripts, No Easy Walk to Freedom, was published in 1986 several years ...

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Linda Allen Bryant

editor and publisher, was born in Peoria, Illinois, to Dr. Cecil Bruce Ford and Florence Henderson Ford. She was the granddaughter of Major George Ford and a great-great-granddaughter of West Ford, who may have been the African American son of George Washington. Cecil Bruce Ford, a graduate of Meharry Medical College, was Peoria's first African American dentist, while Elise's mother, Florence, was a well-known seamstress. Elise Ford was baptized at the age of three at Bethel Methodist Church and attended the Peoria public school system with her siblings Bruce, Florence, and Harrison. Later Ford acted as her grandfather's secretary when he was the president of the Springfield chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and wrote his correspondence as his eyesight failed in his later years.

The Ford oral history, which held that she was the three-times great-granddaughter of George ...

Primary Source

Colleen J. McElroy (b. 1935) was in her thirties before she began writing poetry, fiction, and memoirs in earnest. Until then, she had trained as a speech therapist, earning a doctorate while studying ethnolinguistic patterns at the University of Washington, where she became the first African American woman to be promoted to full professor. As the daughter of an army sergeant, McElroy was also well-traveled by the time her writing career took off, living in multiple American cities as well as overseas. Both of these experiences are on display in her collection of short stories, Driving Under the Cardboard Pines (1990), which, in the words of one reviewer, depicts the "mysticism and brutality" of the African American experience by bringing together voices of a diverse collection of characters (Barbara Smith, "Homeward Bound," The Kenyon Review). Although her previous collection, Jesus and Fat Tuesday 1987 is based mainly in ...

Article

Kerima M. Lewis

The African Methodist Episcopal Church Review (AME Church Review) has the distinction of being the oldest magazine owned and published by African Americans. The denomination's first periodical, the African Methodist Episcopal Church Magazine, appeared in September 1841. The General Conference that met in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1884 changed the name of this periodical to the AME Church Review. The AME Church saw a need for a scholarly magazine to complement its Christian Recorder, which had been published as a weekly newspaper since 1852. Headquarters for the magazine was set up in Philadelphia, and Bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner was appointed the first editor-manager.

As a quarterly magazine the Review was not limited to the news and business of the AME Church but provided thought-provoking, intellectual, and scholarly articles. The first issue of the AME Church Review appeared in July 1884 with the lead ...

Article

Joel Gordon

Egyptian journalist and newspaper magnate in collaboration with his twin brother, Mustafa Amin, was born in Cairo on 21 February 1914. Their father was Amine Youssef Bey, a prominent lawyer and politician, and their mother was a niece of nationalist leader Saʿd Zaghlul. The boys grew up in Zaghlul’s Cairo villa, a political nerve center, eventually known as Bayt al Umma (the “House of the Nation”). In 1919 Zaghlul headed the national delegation that sought British permission to attend the Paris Peace Conference. Their arrest and exile sparked the 1919 “revolution” that inaugurated the constitutional monarchy (1923–1953). In 1922, the Amin twins embarked upon their first journalistic ventures, a series of handwritten magazines.

Ali attended the Royal Awqaf School from 1926 to 1928 but was expelled for participating in demonstrations against one of numerous minority governments He attended several preparatory schools one associated with the ...

Article

Rami Ginat

Egyptian journalist, novelist, scriptwriter, publisher, and politician, was born in Cairo on 21 February 1914. He said, “When I hold my pen I feel that I hug the most beautiful woman in the world; I have therefore lived a long love-story. I cannot imagine myself live a single day without my pen … When I pass away I ask to lay my pen next to me in my tomb since I may need it when I write a journalistic research story about the resurrection day” (Mustafa, p. 6). Mustafa Amin, or al-Ustadh the teacher as he was often referred to by his colleagues and followers was one of Egypt s most eminent journalists of the twentieth century Many in the Arab world have regarded him as the father of Arab journalism His pen Mustafa Amin kept reminding his readers was mightier than the dictator s sword a reference ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

poet, writer, educator, and chiropractor, was born Jewel Christine McLawler in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the oldest of six children born to William McLawler, a minister, and Alma Bazel McLawler, a gospel songwriter. During her childhood, Jewel McLawler's elders, especially the religious poet Frances Theresa Smith, her grandmother on her mother's side, encouraged her to cultivate her precocious intelligence. As a preschooler Jewel learned to read, memorize poetry, and excel in math. The Pittsburgh Courier, a leading black newspaper, reported on her rapid progression through school.

At age twelve, Jewel graduated from McCosh Elementary School on Chicago's South Side. At sixteen she finished Englewood High School and married her first husband. She had two children with him: a son, Kim Allan, and a daughter, Marcianna called Marci She returned to school at age thirty two when she found herself ...

Article

Frank A. Salamone

In 1909—the same year that W. E. B. Du Bois helped found the NAACP and that the African American Matthew Henson went with Robert Peary on what became the first successful journey to the North Pole—James Henry Anderson from South Carolina established the New York Amsterdam News. Anderson was born soon after the Civil War. At the age of twelve he left South Carolina, a runaway who worked an assortment of jobs, finally settling in New York City. He came up with the idea of establishing a newspaper aimed directly at the needs of an African American audience. This was a brave move on his part: at the time, there were only about fifty such newspapers in the entire country.

Anderson's small investment led to the Amsterdam News a newspaper that grew to have a strong influence in the black community He named the newspaper after ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

spent his childhood and early adulthood in Pennsylvania, and may have been born in Philadelphia. Various censuses suggest his year of birth may have been 1818, 1820, or 1824, but a likely 1850 census entry shows his age as thirty-two.

Anderson’s parents have yet to be identified, and little is known about his life growing up in Pennsylvania. Contemporary accounts in California refer to him having worked as a waiter, and a Peter Anderson referenced as mulatto, who worked as a waiter, was recorded in the 1850 federal census living in Philadelphia’s Spruce Ward. Living with him were a woman named Mary Anderson—possibly his wife, or maybe his sister—two boys named Peter and George Anderson, and an unidentified nineteen-year-old named Elizabeth Purnell.

Anderson arrived in California in 1854, as the Gold Rush of 1849 was declining and established a tailor shop described in some directories ...

Primary Source

Founded in 1900, the Colored American Magazine was intended to provide a voice to previously neglected African American writers and to act as an engine of social reform in the bleakest days of the Jim Crow era. The work of Pauline Hopkins (1859–1930) sought to satisfy both goals. During the first few years of the magazine’s existence, Hopkins was one of its most prolific contributors, publishing several serialized novels, short stories, essays, and biographies. Trained as a journalist, Hopkins saw her popular fiction as a means to criticize racism and segregation. As Hazel V. Carby points out (The Magazine Novels of Pauline Hopkins Oxford University Press 1988 Hopkins both utilizes the strategies and formulas of nineteenth century dime novels and story papers and reveals the limits of these popular narrative forms for black characterization Although her stories contain formulaic structures and elements of melodrama her use of strong ...

Article

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) is the world's oldest learned society dedicated to the promotion, research, preservation, interpretation, and dissemination of information about the life, history, and culture of Africans, African Americans, and the African diaspora. Founded in Chicago on 8 September 1915 as the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History by Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950) and four other people, the association was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia on 3 October 1915. Its stated purposes were to collect sociological and historical data, to publish books on Negro life and history, to promote the study of the Negro through clubs and schools, and to bring about harmony between the races by interpreting the one to the other.

In the beginning the association had very little moral or financial support and its longevity must be ...

Article

Joy Gleason Carew

civil rights lawyer, community activist, editor, and publisher, was born in Winston, North Carolina, the sixth and last son of nine children of Simon Green and Oleona Pegram Atkins. His father was the founder and first president of the Slater Industrial Academy, later known as Winston‐Salem State University. Atkins graduated from the Slater Academy in 1915 and then went to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating magna cum laude in chemistry in 1919.

When Atkins obtained his LLB cum laude at Yale University in 1922, he was the first African American to graduate with honors from that institution. While there, Atkins was a member of the debate team and served as a monitor of the Yale Law Library, where he oversaw the indexing of thirty‐one volumes of the Yale Law Journal. In 1921 he was the first African American elected to the editorial board of the Yale ...

Article

Richard L. Kaplan

journalist and the first African American editor of the Los Angeles Times, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, one of five sons of Myrtle Baquet and Eddie Baquet Sr., prominent restaurant and bar owners. After years as a mail carrier, Baquet's father retired from the postal service, sold the family home, and opened a restaurant and bar, Eddie's Place, in 1966. At first the family moved into the restaurant's back rooms, with the brothers sharing one bed. The restaurant became famous for its authentic Creole cuisine, attracting such celebrities as Bill Cosby while still catering to the discriminating tastes of local residents. The Baquets, in fact, had long-established roots in the New Orleans community dating back 200 years, and many family members were local jazz musicians of note.

After graduating from the Catholic all boys St Augustine High School Baquet attended Columbia University in New York City ...

Article

Born in Sanford, Florida, Claude Barnett was sent at a very young age to live with his grandparents and other relatives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. He returned to the South to study engineering at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), from which he graduated in 1906. Back in Chicago, he worked as a postal clerk and, exposed to a wide range of advertising journals, decided to make a career in advertising. In 1913 he produced a series of photographs of famous blacks, which he sold through the mail, furthering his interest in business.

Five years later Barnett and several other entrepreneurs formed the Kashmir Chemical Company which sold cosmetics Barnett left the post office took the job of advertising manager at Kashmir and toured the country selling cosmetics as well as his photographs In each town he visited the local black newspaper hoping to bargain for ...