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Sholomo B. Levy

writer and educator, was born in Petersburg, Virginia, to parents about whom little is known but who were only briefly married before Harold's father took his young son to New York City during the black migration to the North. The elder Cruse found work as a custodian with the Long Island Railroad; however, he soon realized the he could not care for a small child alone and placed Harold with a foster family in Queens. During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s his foster mother, Aunt Henrietta, instilled a love for the black theater in the young Harold, frequently taking him to performances. With the coming of the Depression the family lost their home and was forced to move into an apartment in Harlem, where Cruse became more deeply immersed in black culture. There he would witness performances by Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Bill Robinson, and Florence ...

Article

Eric W. Petenbrink

political theorist, was born Haywood Hall in South Omaha, Nebraska, the youngest of three children of Haywood Hall, a factory worker and janitor, and Harriet Thorpe Hall. When he was fifteen, racist violence in Omaha prompted the family to move to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Hall soon dropped out of school and began working as a railroad dining car waiter. In 1915 the family moved to Chicago, Illinois, to be near extended family, and Hall enlisted in the military in 1917. He served in World War I for a year as part of an all-black unit in France, where he grew accustomed to the absence of racism. Hall married his first wife, Hazel, in 1920, but the marriage lasted only a few months. In spite of their lengthy separation, they did not officially divorce until 1932.

Hall s experiences in World War I and defending ...

Article

The son of former slaves, Harry Haywood moved with his family from Nebraska to Minneapolis, which he left to fight in the 370th Infantry in France during World War I. Settling in Chicago, Illinois in the early 1920s, Haywood supported himself as a bootblack, busboy, and bellboy. He was recruited into the African Blood Brotherhood, a secret Black Nationalist organization, as well as into the Young Workers League, both associated with the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA).

Haywood was a leading proponent of Black Nationalism, self-determination, and the idea that American blacks are a colonized people who should organize themselves into a nation. From 1926 to 1930, Haywood studied in the Soviet Union, where he met several anticolonial revolutionaries, including Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh. On his return to the U.S. in 1931 he was chosen to head the Communist Party s Negro Department ...

Article

Larvester Gaither

major organizer and theoretician of the Communist International. Though Harry Haywood's parents, Harriet and Haywood Hall, were born into slavery, they had migrated to South Omaha, Nebraska, by the time he was born. When Harry was fifteen, his father, a meatpacker, was attacked by a white mob and the family was forced to leave Nebraska; they moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and eventually settled in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1917 Haywood entered the U.S. Army, and as a member of the Illinois 370th Infantry he set sail for France in April 1918. The year Haywood returned home to Chicago from the war, 1919, the city was engulfed in a bloody race riot. Such experiences radicalized Haywood, and after a brief stint with the African Blood Brotherhood he joined the Young Communist League in 1923.

He joined the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) in 1925 and moved ...

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David Killingray

West African medical doctor, army officer, and political writer born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the son of a liberated slave. He went to school and studied at Fourah Bay Institute with a view to entering the Christian ministry. However, along with two other men, he was selected in 1853 to study medicine in Britain with a view to returning to West Africa as an army medical officer. Horton studied first at King's College London and graduated from Edinburgh in 1859. He was very conscious that he was an African and adopted the name ‘Africanus’. Commissioned into the Army, he returned to West Africa, where he spent twenty years practising as a military doctor and occasionally serving as an administrator. He retired as a lieutenant‐colonel in 1880 Early in his career many of his white fellow doctors resented his role and they persuaded the War Office not to appoint ...

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David Michel

Islamic leader, was born Benjamin Goodman, the only child of Mary Goodman, a hairdresser, and an unknown father in Suffolk, Virginia. Goodman was given his mother's last name because his parents were not married. The family was poor and both he and his mother lived in his grandmother's house. He went to the Easter Graded School in black Saratoga and in 1947 moved to New York for a year. Finding rural Virginia dull, Goodman joined the U.S. Air Force at the age of seventeen and was immediately sent to Flackman Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, for training, after which he was transferred to Japan in 1950 He worked as a radar operator in both Japan and Korea where he experienced discrimination from white American officers Though acknowledged as the best radar operator for his work in Japan and on the war front in Korea ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

forged a militant commitment to black liberation within a lifelong allegiance to the international socialist movement. In a 1980 interview, the only source of information on his childhood, Kilpatrick said he had been born in Colorado in 1898 to a Native American father (possibly of partly African descent) and a mother who had been enslaved in Kentucky. Information from his Ohio death certificate shows his birth around 1905. Kilpatrick consistently used the birth date of 28 February 1904 for travel by ship to and from Europe in the 1930s. The family moved to Cleveland when he was about six years old, where his father got work for McKerrigan McKinley Steel, which became part of Republic Steel. His father was a socialist and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which young Admiral joined in his teenage years.

He absorbed from his father and other black IWW ...

Article

Gary Ashwill

A self-educated former slave, François Dominique Toussaint-L'Ouverture joined the Haitian Revolution in 1791 and became its foremost general, defeating both French and British forces. In 1802, he was betrayed and captured, and he died imprisoned in France.

Toussaint figures importantly in the early-nineteenth-century writings of James McCune Smith, David Walker, and Henry Highland Garnet, among others, as a symbol and exemplar of resistance to slavery, and as an example of the potential of the black race. William Wells Brown, in his pamphlet St. Domingo: Its Revolution and Its Patriots (1854), compares Toussaint favorably to Napoleon and George Washington: “Toussaint liberated his countrymen; Washington enslaved a portion of his.” George Clinton Rowe's seventy-stanza poem, Toussaint L'Ouverture (1890), lauds Toussaint as the “deliverer of his race.” Later African American writers such as Carter G. Woodson and W. E. B. Du Bois argued ...

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Michaeljulius Idani

Democratic politician, was born in Albany, Georgia, one of eight children of Jimmy Lee Rush and Cora Lee. Rush's parents separated and his mother moved the family to the North side of Chicago, Illinois. In 1963, at the age of seventeen, Rush dropped out of Marshall High School in Marshall, Illinois, and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served until 1968.

The 1960s were a pivotal time in Rush's life. All around him, there was increased awareness about discrimination and inequality. Rush became a student of social justice and an activist in the civil rights movement. As an army serviceman stationed in Chicago's Jackson Park, Rush joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael encouraged Rush and Bob Brown to start an Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense BPP Rush would oblige and serve as Defense Minister his ...

Article

Eric Young

Like many early African nationalists, Martin-Paul Samba in his relationship with colonial authorities progressed from initial cooperation to determined resistance. Born Mebenga-M’Ebono, he became familiar with German settlers during his childhood in what would soon become the German colony of Kamerun (present day Cameroon). After serving on an expedition led by German explorer Kurt von Morgan, he traveled to Berlin with von Morgan for education and military training. He ultimately reached the rank of captain in the German Imperial Army. In 1895 Samba returned home, and throughout the next fifteen years participated in several expeditions into the hinterland to further German colonial ambitions.

By 1910 Samba had grown acquainted with early nationalists such as Rudolph Douala Manga Bell and had begun to share their grievances Two years later Samba became chief of the Ebolowa and the leader and strategist of the local anticolonial resistance movement Pretending to be a ...

Article

Born into the Touré clan in the Beyla region of present-day Guinea, Samory Touré became a soldier in the local conflicts that ravaged the area around the middle of the nineteenth century, and soon began to exploit the situation to his own ends. By 1870 he had forged a large private army, with which he eventually conquered an area reaching from the Fouta Djallon in the west to the Asante country of present-day Ghana in the east. Establishing his capital at Bissandougou in what is now Côte d’Ivoire, he tried at first to hold off the encroaching French by diplomacy and negotiations but later waged a brilliant, although ultimately unsuccessful, guerrilla war against them. Captured by the French in 1898, Samory Touré died two years later in exile in Gabon. He was the great-grandfather of Sékou Touré, the first president of modern Guinea.

Article

Wallace D. Best

pastor, community activist, and author, was born in the racially mixed Germantown section of Philadelphia to Jeremiah Alvesta Wright Sr. and Dr. Mary Elizabeth Henderson Wright. Wright Sr. served as pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Germantown from 1938 until his retirement in 1980. Dr. Mary Wright was a schoolteacher and the first vice principal at Germantown High and Girls Schools. Both parents profoundly influenced their son, instilling in him values that shaped his intellectual pursuits, spiritual life, and political activism.

Wright attended historic Central High School in Philadelphia, graduating in 1959. Central was an all-boys school and 90 percent white at the time of his attendance. Founded in 1838 the school had established a tradition of excellence in education and fellow classmates considered Wright a model student among the 211th graduating class Following in his father s footsteps Wright enrolled in Virginia ...