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Ana Raquel Fernandes

Pan‐Africanist and the first black person to hold civic office in Britain. He was born in Liverpool, the son of a Barbadian, Richard Archer, and an Irishwoman, Mary Theresa Burns, but little is known of his early life, though he is believed to have lived in North America and the West Indies. Around 1898 he and his African‐Canadian wife, Bertha, moved to Battersea, south London, where Archer established a photographic studio. His concern to eradicate social and racial injustices led to a lifelong career in local government and national and global politics. In 1906 he was elected as a Progressive (Liberal) councillor for the Latchmere ward, and in 1913 Archer became Mayor of Battersea, Britain's first black mayor. His interest in colonial politics led to his involvement in Pan‐Africanism. In 1900 he joined the Pan African Association and he was a significant presence at the ...

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Amalia K. Amaki

graphic artist, painter, printmaker, and political activist, was born in Chicago in 1931. An only child, he attended Chicago public schools, moving briefly to Washington, D.C., to study at Howard University with Alain Leroy Locke, Sterling Allen Brown, and James Amos Porter. After one year he then enrolled at Alabama State College (later Alabama State University) to study under the sculptor, painter, and printmaker Hayward Louis Oubre, and he received a bachelor of arts degree. Bailey continued study at the University of Southern California (USC) as a student of Charles White and the Hungarian-born Francis de Erdely. He earned the bachelor of fine arts degree in 1958 and the master of fine arts degree in 1960. At USC he worked as a graduate assistant for two years, introducing the students Mel Edwards and Calvin Burnett to the work ...

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Hilary Jones

missionary, parish priest, and religious educator, was born in Senegal on 16 April 1814, the same day that Napoleon Bonaparte left France for exile on the Island of Elba. Two years later Britain ended its occupation of Senegal and returned the fortified island territories of Gorée and Saint-Louis to France. The island of Saint-Louis du Sénégal, founded by France in 1659 as a strategic site in the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, gained a reputation as a cosmopolitan Atlantic port city shaped by patterns of intermarriage between African women (Signares) and European administrators, merchants, and soldiers. The son of Marie Monté, a “free mulâtresse,” and Pierre Boilat, member of the merchant marines, David Boilat came from the small but growing class of mixed race inhabitants who closely identified with the Catholic Church and sought the privileges of French education despite their relative isolation from French culture.

In 1816 ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

artist and political activist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1937 Bolden received a four‐year scholarship to the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, where he majored in illustration and advertising design. Upon his graduation he became an artist and layout designer for a top advertising agency in Philadelphia. His duties included prep work for original work by Norman Rockwell. In fact Bolden and Rockwell became close friends, and it was Rockwell who “encouraged Bolden to use neighbors and local townspeople as models for his art,” according to a New Hampshire Circle of Friends flyer.

After World War II Mel Bolden moved to New York and became a full‐time illustrator, working first for black newspapers, then for such general magazines as Fortune, Saturday Review, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, Boy's Life, as well as for major newspapers like the New York Times and the New York ...

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Kennedy A. Walibora Waliaula

South African painter, writer, poet, and antiapartheid activist, was born in Bonnievale in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The third-born child in a family of five (four sons, and one daughter), Breytenbach was a twin, although his twin died at infancy. The Breytenbachs descended from the lineage of one Coenrad Breytenbach, a military officer of lower rank who arrived in South Africa from Europe in 1656 It is unclear whether Coenrad Breytenbach was Dutch or whether he had other European origins On the maternal side Breyten Breytenbach descended from the Cloetes of France However he would often downplay his European origins stressing instead his ties to Africa Two of his brothers were prominent figures in South Africa and had strong associations with the apartheid system Jan was a senior military officer while Cloete was a famous photojournalist Breytenbach s opposition to apartheid and Afrikanerdom made him something of a ...

Article

Susan B. Iwanisziw

activist, listed in some records and Philadelphia city directories by the names of Burgoe, Berge, or Burgu, was evidently a free African American by the time his name appears in public records, when he was already over fifty years of age. No information about his precise date or place of birth, status at birth, parentage, marriage or children, or date of death has come to light. The 1790 census records show that he shared a house at 19 Cresson Alley, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with three other free African Americans, possibly his family. Over a decade later he is listed in the St. Thomas African Episcopal Church Birth and Baptismal Register as an adult of sixty-five years, who was baptized on 23 January 1803. No other persons named Burgaw appear in the records spanning the years 1796–1837 which suggests that his immediate family had already dispersed by this time or ...

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Kimberly Curtis

visual artist, educator, and activist, was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, the second of the seven children of Dana C. Chandler Sr., a longshoreman, and Ruth Chandler. At age five Dana Chandler Jr. and his family moved to Roxbury, Massachusetts, a predominantly African American community. Chandler's parents, who had not attended school beyond the ninth and eleventh grades, raised their children to recognize the importance of completing high school and earning a college degree. Chandler grew up in a poor, working-class family and attended Boston's public schools throughout childhood and adolescence. He received primary and elementary education at the Asa Gray and Sherwin schools. After a six-month hospital stay to treat rheumatic fever, he transferred from Boston Latin School to J.P. Timility Junior High School. At Boston Technical High School his art teachers Ralph Rosenthal and Gunnar Munnick inspired him to become an artist. In 1959 Chandler graduated ...

Article

Lorin Nails-Smoote

political and editorial cartoonist, was born Chesterfield Commodore in Racine, Wisconsin, the fourth of five children of Elizabeth “Bessie” Fite and Pascal “Pat” Commodore, a Creole laborer and model maker from Louisiana. One Commodore ancestor, Peter D. Thomas of Racine, a former slave, was the first elected black official in Wisconsin.

The family resided with Bessie Commodore's mother, Della, in her Racine boarding house until 1923 when the three girls and their parents moved to Chicago where Pat could pursue better employment opportunities. Chester, as he was known, remained with his grandmother and his older brother until 1927 when he joined his parents.

Commodore grew up in a culturally stimulating environment Because of its convenient proximity to Chicago and Milwaukee and because black entertainers in pre integration years were not allowed above the first floor of the Chicago and Milwaukee hotels where they appeared Della Fite s ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Renowned figure in the British radical movement during the regency. He was born in Jamaica to the island's Attorney‐General and a local black woman. At 14 he was sent to Glasgow to study law, and later became apprenticed to a lawyer in Liverpool.

Davidson's radical inclinations were formed quite early on in his life and, while still in Scotland, he joined in the public demand for parliamentary reform. After failing to continue his studies, he set up a cabinet‐making business in Birmingham, and taught in a Wesleyan Sunday school. The Peterloo massacre in 1819 incited anger in him and he resumed his radical politics, joining the Marylebone Union Reading Society, which was formed as a result of the massacre. He was introduced to George Edwards, a police spy pretending to be a radical, who recruited Davidson to fellow radical Arthur Thistlewood's groups the Committee of Thirteen and the ...

Article

Scott A. Miltenberger

Little is definitively known of Amos Fortune, who lived in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Purportedly an African prince sold into slavery at a young age, Amos spent fifteen years as a slave of the Boston bookbinder Deacon Fortune. In the course of his servitude, Amos learned to read and write and converted to Christianity.

In 1738Ichabod Richardson, a tanner living in Woburn, Massachusetts, apparently purchased Amos and began to train him in his profession. In his will, Richardson granted Amos his freedom in 1768, but two years passed before Richardson's heirs lived up to the promise, in fact requiring Amos to purchase his freedom. In 1778 he purchased the freedom of another slave, Lydia Somerset, and married her; within a few months, however, she died. A year later Fortune purchased and married another woman, Violate Baldwin in ...

Article

Alejandro Gortázar

was born in Montevideo on 22 June 1926. He is recognized both in Uruguay and the rest of the world mainly for his paintings. He lived in Uruguay between 1926 and 1970, and later on between 1990 and 2002. In the twenty years out of his country, he lived in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. Much of his work remained in those countries. In 1993 stated that he had sold more than three thousand paintings all over the world Galloza s childhood was marked by the experience of living in Montevideo and then in the countryside because of his mother s constant change of jobs He was clarito light skinned mulatto in his own words because his father was a white man even though he never knew him When he was fourteen years old he and his mother returned to the capital city Soon after he ...

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Donna L. Halper

suffragist and political activist, was born in Danville, Virginia, in 1872 (some sources, notably U.S. Census records, say 1874) to Alfred and Barbara Dillard. Little is known of her early life, but she received training as a dressmaker and clothing designer, studying in London and Paris as well as in the United States.

On 28 September 1898 she married William Harvey Higgins, who had recently graduated from medical school in North Carolina. They lived in New York City while he completed some additional training at Long Island Medical College, and during that period Bertha operated her own dressmaking shop. By 1903William Higgins had opened a medical practice in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was one of the city's few black physicians. As was customary in those days, Higgins gave up her profession after the birth of the couple's first child, Prudence, in 1913 However ...

Article

Jennifer Drake

poet, visual artist, performer, and bohemian citizen of the world, was born Theodore Jones in Cairo, Illinois, to parents who worked on Mississippi riverboats. While little is known about Joans's childhood, two stories circulate widely. The first is that he was born on a riverboat; the second is that his father, a riverboat entertainer, gave the twelve-year-old Joans a trumpet and dropped him off in Memphis, Tennessee, to make his own way in the world. It has been documented that Joans's father was murdered in the 1943 Detroit race riots, and various autobiographical writings indicate that Joans spent some of his childhood in Indiana and Kentucky.

After earning his BFA in painting from Indiana University in 1951, Joans moved to New York's Greenwich Village and became a central figure in the Beat scene. He associated with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg who would first ...

Article

Gregory Eiselein

In his third-person autobiography, From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capitol (1894), John Mercer Langston recounts his career as one of the most influential African American leaders of the nineteenth century. Born in Virginia and educated at Oberlin, Langston became in 1854 the first African American admitted to the Ohio bar and in 1855 the first elected to public office in the United States (town clerk of Brownhelm, Ohio). Throughout the 1850s he worked within antislavery and civil rights movements, advocating a nationalist, pro-emigration position before becoming a Republican party activist. Heading recruitment of African American soldiers in the West during the Civil War, he rose to national prominence after the war as the president of the National Equal Rights League (a forerunner of the NAACP), an educational inspector for the Freedmen's Bureau, and a Republican party organizer. In 1868 he accepted a professorship at Howard ...

Article

Aimee Lee Cheek and William Cheek

John Mercer Langston was born free in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Ralph Quarles, a wealthy white slaveholding planter, and Lucy Jane Langston, a part–Native American, part-black slave emancipated by Quarles in 1806. After the deaths of both of their parents in 1834, Langston and his two brothers, well provided for by Quarles's will but unprotected by Virginia law, moved to Ohio. There Langston lived on a farm near Chillicothe with a cultured white southern family who had been friends of his father and who treated him as a son. He was in effect orphaned again in 1839, however, when a court hearing, concluding that his guardian's impending move to Missouri (a slave state) would imperil the boy's freedom and inheritance, forced him to leave the family. Subsequently, he boarded in four different homes, white and black, in Chillicothe and Cincinnati worked ...

Article

Thomas Adams Upchurch

Born in Virginia to a wealthy white planter and a slave mother, John Mercer Langston was one of the most influential African Americans of the nineteenth century. Widely regarded by contemporaries and historians alike as second in importance only to Frederick Douglass, Langston actually superseded the venerable Douglass in certain ways. Although Douglass enjoyed more widespread renown, Langston held more government positions and had a more varied career. The two men first met in 1848 and maintained a friendship for many years thereafter. They disagreed on some important racial issues, however, which sometimes led to hard feelings and, near the end of their lives, an intense rivalry that most observers would say made them bitter enemies.

Langston was about ten years younger than Douglass and while they were both mulattoes born to slave mothers their upbringings could hardly have been more different Whereas Douglass endured the most abhorrent circumstances ...

Article

Hanétha Vété-Congolo

was born Yva de Montaigne in 1912 in Trinité, Martinique, the daughter of road engineer Paul de Montaigne, himself the son of a béké man and a woman of African descent, and Eponine Vachier, a mulatto born to a French father and a mulatta mother.

She enjoyed the relative privileges of the island s mulatto class and was schooled at the Pensionnat Colonial of Fort de France Her father worked for Martinique s Department of Civil Engineering first in Trinité and then in Fort de France A Freemason he was the Worshipful Master at the local lodge One of ten children with a father who was a well respected official and member of the community Léro had mostly happy memories of her childhood On the other hand she was shocked by the poverty and misery she observed of peasant life at the time which she experienced firsthand when the family ...

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J. Vern Cromartie

visual artist, musician, author, and political activist, was born Joan Angela Lewis in Oakland, California, to John Henry Lewis and Florence (Reid) Lewis. She is also known as J. Tarika Lewis, Tarika Lewis, Joan Lewis, and Matilaba. At the time of her birth, her father was a salesman for G&W Refrigeration. He was the first black man to become the light heavyweight champion of the world, a title he held from 1935 to 1939. After retiring as a prize fighter, John Henry Lewis and his father Edward Lewis operated a boxing gym in Oakland.

While attending Oakland Technical High School Lewis was active in the journalism music and athletic programs She wrote for the school newspaper and played violin in the school orchestra Lewis was also a member of the swim team and a sprinter on the track team From the 10th to ...

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Todd Palmer

artist, was born Norman Wilfred Lewis in Harlem, New York, the second of three boys born to Wilfred Lewis and Diana Lewis (maiden name unknown). From his earliest school days, Lewis observed how people formed group identities––and noticed the ways he didn't belong. He recalled that Harlem during his boyhood was an Italian and Jewish place where “the only Negroes … were [building] superintendents.” Later, as white ethnic residents moved away and more African Americans arrived, he recognized differences within Harlem's “new Negro” community. Lewis was keen to the ways his family's immigrant outlook was distinct from blacks with U.S. roots: his parents came to Harlem from Bermuda, where his father had been a fisherman and his mother ran her own bakery.

At nine years old Lewis discovered a desire to paint But his father warned that his racial identity would be an intractable obstacle and admonished Lewis for ...

Article

Charles Pete Banner-Haley

cartoonist, was born Aaron Vincent McGruder in Chicago, the son of Bill McGruder, an employee with the National Safety Transportation Board, and Elaine (maiden name not known), a homemaker. When McGruder was six years old the family moved to the planned community of Columbia, Maryland. Created by the Rouse Company in the late 1960s, Columbia was envisioned as an integrationist, post–civil rights utopia.The young McGruder attended a Jesuit school outside of Columbia from seventh to ninth grade. It was, as he said in a New Yorker profile, “a very strict, very, very white Jesuit school.” As oppressive as the atmosphere was, it was while at this school that McGruder discovered the humor of Monty Python. When he transferred to public school in the tenth grade, he found himself mostly in the company of other black students. He became a fan of Star Wars kung fu ...