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Article

Leyla Keough

Diane Abbott, a working-class Cambridge University graduate, made history on June 11, 1987, by becoming the first black female member of the British Parliament. Her outspoken criticism of racism and her commitment to progressive politics have made her a controversial figure in Britain's Labour Party.

Diane Abbott was born in 1953 in the working-class London neighborhood of Paddington. Her mother (a nurse) and father (a welder) had moved there in 1951 from Jamaica. Later they moved to lower-middle-class Harrow, where Abbott was the only black student at the Harrow County School for Girls. Graduating among the top in her class, she applied and was accepted into Newnham College at Cambridge University, despite a high school teacher's comment that attendance there would give her ambitions that were above her social status.

She began work after graduation at the home office a government department responsible for a broad range ...

Article

Alice Bernstein

carpenter, newspaper editor, and state representative during Reconstruction, was born free, of “unmixed African blood,” in New Bern, North Carolina, to Israel B. Abbott and Gracie Maria Green. His father died in 1844, and Abbott was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother, Hannah, the wife of Bristow Rue (Rhew). His mother's second husband was Nelson Brown, with whom she had a daughter, Hannah Cora, and stepsons Samuel H. Brown and George M. Brown. She married her third husband, the Reverend Joseph Green, a Methodist Episcopal Zion Church minister, in 1854. When Abbott was four, his grandmother contributed one dollar toward his education, and he attended a school taught by Mrs. Jane Stevens. He went to school regularly until age ten, when he began serving two years as apprentice to a carpenter, completing his trade with his stepfather, Joseph Green ...

Article

The court case of Ableman v. Booth stemmed from the capture of a fugitive slave named Joshua Glover just outside of Racine, Wisconsin, on 10 March 1854. Federal marshals accompanying Glover's owner, a Missourian named Bennami Garland, broke into the shack Glover was occupying and forcibly detained him after a spirited resistance. Glover was taken overnight by wagon to the county jail in Milwaukee, thirty miles north. Garland and the federal marshals intended to take Glover before the U.S. district court judge the next morning to authorize his return to Missouri.

Sherman Booth, Milwaukee's most prominent abolitionist and the publisher of the Milwaukee Free Democrat was alerted to Glover s incarceration by early morning and spread the news quickly throughout the abolitionist community While lawyers obtained a writ of habeas corpus from a county court on Glover s behalf to protect him against illegal imprisonment Booth and ...

Article

Richard S. Newman, Paul Finkelman and Carl E. Prince

[This entry contains three subentries dealing with abolitionism from the late seventeenth century through the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in1865. The first article discusses the definition of abolitionism as differentiated from antislavery activism and its forms including Garrisonian and non Garrisonian abolition The second article describes ...

Article

During the three decades that preceded the Civil War, abolitionism was a major factor in electoral politics. Most historians use the term abolitionism to refer to antislavery activism between the early 1830s, when William Lloyd Garrison began publishing The Liberator, and the American Civil War (1861–1865). The term also refers to the antislavery crusade that mobilized many African Americans and a small minority of whites, who saw their goal realized during the Civil War. Historians also commonly distinguish abolitionism, a morally grounded and uncompromising social reform movement, from political antislavery—represented, for example, by the Free Soil or Republican parties—which advocated more limited political solutions, such as keeping slavery out of the western territories of the United States, and was more amenable to compromise.

Abolitionists played a key role in setting the terms of the debate over slavery and in making it a compelling moral issue Yet abolitionists ...

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It often falls to the United States Supreme Court to issue determinations regarding the difficult, controversial, and, in terms of its effect on the voting rights of many millions of Americans, critical issue of voter redistricting. One recent example of such a case was Abrams v. Johnson in 1997. In 1995 a number of residents of Georgia challenged the constitutionality of the state legislator's new redistricting plan, which attempted to increase the number of African American representatives in the United States House of Representatives by creating three black majority districts. In the case of Miller v. Johnson 1995 the court concurred with the complainants in denying the constitutionality of the plan on the grounds that race had been the determining factor in fashioning the new districts Back at square one the state legislator tried again this time creating just one African American majority district but again the plan was ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

was the first independent Hafsid ruler, or emir, in Tunis. Starting first as governor of Gabes and Tunis, he reigned as sole emir from 1229 to 1249. As emir he claimed a large swath of territory in central North Africa. His independence began when he broke from the Almohad caliph in Marrakech over the role of the Mahdi Ibn Tumart, the religious founder of the Almohad movement and empire that was then in decline. Abu Zakariya Yahya bin Hafs built the foundations for one of the longest-lasting ruling dynasties in the history of North Africa, the Hafsid Almohads. Born in 1203 his family came from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco His grandfather Abu Hafs al Hintati a shaykh or leader from the Hintata Berber Masmuda tribe was a great Almohad second in command to Abd al Muʾmin the first caliph of the Almohads Abu Hafs al ...

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On the evening of 8 December 1811 thirty one year old Charles Deslondes led a group of slaves along the Louisiana coast in what would become the largest protracted slave uprising in American history Also known as the German Coast Uprising the rebel force burned plantations and freed other slaves as it marched toward New Orleans In January 1812 Deslondes s soldiers battled a militia led by General Wade Hampton 1752 1835 at Francois Bernard Bernoudi s plantation which is briefly summarized in the newspaper article below After two days of fighting which included cavalry and pikes the militia defeated the slaves and captured Deslondes A tribunal held soon thereafter sentenced Deslondes and over a dozen other leaders of the revolt to death The bodies were dismembered and Deslondes s head was placed on a pike as a warning against future uprisings In the context of the Haitian Revolution and ...

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Although the colony of Maryland imported indentured servants to work in the burgeoning tobacco industry the law initially allowed for a process of manumission as well as some basic legal rights for workers Moreover blacks were among several ethnic groups who worked as indentured servants In September 1664 however a session of Maryland s General Assembly passed a new law focused specifically on African Americans declaring that all black servants were to now be labeled as slaves on a permanent basis In addition freeborn women who married slaves would also serve their husband s master and their children would also become the master s property for the term of their lives a provision designed to prevent shameful interracial relationships The act demonstrates that slavery was not a practice inherited by the colony but was instead imposed well over a generation after Maryland was founded It would take until 1864 for ...

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Dire rumors of slave rebellions if not actual conspiracies had long haunted the English colonies but the Stono Rebellion of 1739 brought those fears vividly to life for many whites On 9 September 1739 a group of slaves set out from the Stono River near Charleston South Carolina heading south to what they assumed would be safe haven under Spain at St Augustine Florida Along the way the rebels flying banners and banging drums put plantations to the torch and exacted their revenge on their owners An accidental encounter with South Carolina s lieutenant governor William Bull and the subsequent arrival of a heavily armed force of white militia put an end to the rebellion but white fears in the colonies were further enflamed Now conspiracies were seen everywhere wherever slaves gathered and the threat of further bloodshed seemed imminent Many had long argued that the slaves in South Carolina ...

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The Deslondes Uprising of 1811—in which several hundred Louisiana slaves rose up and launched attacks along the Mississippi River—provoked an especially brutal response from the local militias and state government. In a pitched battle that lasted several days, slave forces under rebel leader Charles Deslandes (Deslondes) (1780–1811) engaged an armed militia assembled under the order of Governor William C. Claiborne. The slaveholders eventually subdued the rebels and sentenced the ringleaders to death. Deslandes and his comrades were executed, mutilated, and displayed as a warning to other slaves. In the act signed by Claiborne below, a bounty is placed on the remaining fugitives.

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Following their defeat in the Civil War, whites in the former Confederacy found themselves suddenly living among some four million new citizens, who—because of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution—might soon demand equal access to public accommodations. Though attempts to regulate the freedom of black people began to appear shortly after the first slaves arrived in the New World in the form of “slave codes,” the black codes, or Jim Crow laws, that followed Emancipation created laws around an entire array of activities, services, and public institutions to which slaves had had no access. Most typically, these Jim Crow statutes (named after Jump Jim Crow, a popular minstrel figure of the time) sought to regulate or severely limit the employment, property, marital, and voting rights of African Americans.

All black codes were of course noxious to the values of an enlightened liberal democracy but particularly so ...

Article

Grantley Herbert Adams was born in Government Hill, Barbados, then a British colony. His father, Fitzherbert Adams, was a black man and the head teacher of one of the island's largest primary schools, Saint Giles. His mother, Rosa Frances Adams, was a coloured woman (of mixed African and European descent). By West Indian standards, the Adams family was part of the lower middle class, removed from the endemic poverty that engulfed the disenfranchised black majority.

Like his father, Adams attended Harrisons College, the colony's premier secondary school. In 1919 he won a prestigious island scholarship to Oxford University in England, where he studied law. In England he met intellectuals from the colonized world, many of whom, like himself, had joined the Fabian Society, a socialist movement that supported decolonization and the end of the British Empire. In 1925 Adams returned to Barbados working as a lawyer ...

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While most narratives about African Americans in the United States begin with the arrival of a Dutch slaver in Jamestown in 1619, mention is often made of the explorer and slave Esteban de Dorantes, who died at Zuni Pueblo in 1539. A startlingly different starting point is suggested by the historian Dedra S. McDonald, however, in the appearance of Isabel de Olvera in New Mexico in 1600, the first known arrival of either a free African American and or an African American woman. De Olvera is a particularly appropriate symbol of black womanhood because of the agency displayed in her entry into unfamiliar territory. She was a free mulatto from Querétaro, Mexico, the daughter of a black father, Hernando, and an Indian mother, Magdalena.

Because of a 1542 Spanish decree the indigenous population in Spanish America could not be enslaved Magdalena therefore was free as were her children Employed as ...

Article

Joseph Wilson and David Addams

Affirmative action, a legal and social policy intended to foster equal opportunity in America, accelerated during the political and social ferment in the 1960s as a highly controversial concept and array of programs developed in response to the accumulated and lingering inequality that especially afflicted African Americans.

In a sense, affirmative action can be said to have begun when the idea was put forth in the post–Civil War era that formerly enslaved individuals should be accorded “forty acres and a mule,” that is, given compensation for their years of deprivation in the form of help in starting a new life. Or it could be argued that the executive order issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the eve of World War II which called for steering government contracts away from businesses that chose to discriminate racially gave rise to a form of affirmative action in that these businesses often ...

Article

Each time the constitutionality of affirmative action has been reviewed by the US Supreme Court administrators have been further constrained in their ability to increase racial and ethnic diversity on university campuses Recently opponents of affirmative action have redoubled their efforts by seeking an end to the practice in the court of public opinion as well as through the judicial process As voters in several states have banned the consideration of race as a factor among many in university admissions the percentages of African Americans and Latina os who were admitted to selective undergraduate schools graduate fields of studies and professional fields of law and medicine have significantly declined Because universities are training grounds for future leaders in US society restrictions on race conscious postsecondary admissions policies reduce the pool of potential civic and political leaders of color As new challenges emerge the debate over the practice is squarely focused ...

Article

Alabama  

Wesley Borucki

In 1819 Alabama was the twenty-second state admitted to the Union. Alabama has long been a hub of the African American struggle for civil rights. After the Civil War, the formerly enslaved faced intimidation at the polls despite the assurances of the Alabama supreme court chief justice Elisha Woolsey Peck that the rights promised them in Alabama's 1868 constitution would be enforced. Robert Jefferson Norrell opens his book Reaping the Whirlwind with an account of how the African American Republican state legislator James Alston saw his house fired upon twice; he left Tuskegee in 1870 (pp. 3–4). Even under these hostile circumstances, however, the African Americans Benjamin Turner, James Rapier, and Jeremiah Haralson served in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 1870s.

When Democrats regained control of Alabama's legislature and governorship in 1874 public schools were separate but far from equal As Horace Mann Bond demonstrated ...

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In June 1844, the U.S. Senate voted to reject a treaty annexing Texas as a U.S. territory, elevating the debate over expansionism to the forefront of national politics. The Whig candidate for president, Henry Clay (1777–1852), had spoken out against annexation in April (see “Raleigh Letter”), but in doing so alienated many of his supporters. Westward expansion was popular with the general public, and slaveholders in the South had long desired the political advantage of a slave-state majority. Clay had hoped his opponent for presidency would also oppose annexation, sparing them both a debate over slavery.

Instead, the Democrats nominated James K. Polk (1795–1849), an outspoken proponent of Manifest Destiny and whose campaign slogan, “Fifty-four forty or fight,” stirred popular zeal for expansion into the Oregon Territory. In July 1844 Clay published two letters in Alabama newspapers in which he attempted to moderate his initial anti-annexation position.

The first Alabama ...

Article

Bertis English

Like most historically black colleges and universities in the United States, Alabama State University was created in the wake of the Civil War. In 1865, a convalescing Union soldier from the North began to educate former slaves outside Marion, the county seat of Perry County, in the racially divided and often violent Black Belt subregion of Alabama. The following year, the soldier contacted the Congregationalist-headed American Missionary Association (AMA), whose leaders wanted to found black common schools in several Southern states. Consequently, AMA officials sent an agent and minister from New York named Thomas Steward to the Alabama Black Belt.

Reverend Steward arrived in Perry County in January 1867 By this time several leading blacks and a handful of prominent whites in the county had already tried to erect a black common school in Marion Following their lead Steward created a small school in a partly finished Methodist ...

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If the forces of racism and segregation lauded the U.S. Supreme Court's 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson as the final word on the status of black people living in America, their reaction to another Supreme Court holding, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas from 1954 and 1955, was sharply different. After Brown segregationists had only objections to, or excuses for delaying compliance with, or wanted deferrals from the high court's orders. Federally mandated integration plans were either indefinitely stalled or defied outright. Some districts simply closed down their public school systems, adopting instead a system of “private academies” (whites-only, of course), which in some cases forced African American students either to find schools in other states or forgo their educations entirely.

Though the Supreme Court heard numerous cases and issued numerous decrees seeking to ameliorate this situation (notably Griffin v County School Board of Prince Edward County ...