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Todd Steven Burroughs

radical prison journalist and author. Mumia Abu-Jamal was born Wesley Cook in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a teenager in the 1960s he was attracted to the Black Panther Party (BPP). Cook—christened “Mumia” by one of his high school teachers—helped form the BPP's Philadelphia chapter in spring 1969 and became the chapter's lieutenant of information. He wrote articles for the Black Panther, the party's national newspaper, and traveled to several cities to perform BPP work. He left the party in the fall of 1970 because of the split between Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton.

After attending Goddard College in Plainfield Vermont Cook now calling himself Mumia Abu Jamal the surname is Arabic for father of Jamal Jamal being his firstborn returned to Philadelphia and began a radio broadcasting career in the early 1970s Abu Jamal was part of the first generation of black journalists to become professional newscasters for ...

Article

Anani Dzidzienyo

Afro-Latin America encompasses a broad geographical, cultural, and linguistic area of Latin America—from Brazil in South America to the Caribbean islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola, which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, and Mexico in Central America. There is no agreement among scholars or other observers about which countries may be correctly designated as Afro-Latin American. A generally accepted yardstick emphasizes the presence of people of African descent from the time of the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the present. How many Afro-Latin Americans there are today is a difficult question to answer. Throughout Latin America, definitions of race, color, and origin are extremely varied. In Brazil, for example, the four official racial categories are black, brown (or pardo), yellow, and white. Yet census takers in 1980 counted some 140 terms ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

Afrocubanismo, an expression of Cuba's national identity in the arts, arose during the late 1920s and the 1930s. Afro-Cubanist representatives, such as the composer Amadeo Roldán and the poet Nicolás Guillén, sought to recognize and promote the value of popular black musical, artistic, and literary forms. They also depicted Cuban blacks as central to the Cuban nation and a symbol of exploited Cubans in general. White Creole novelist Alejo Carpentier thus merged Afro-Cuban traditions with European avant-garde literary techniques to decry the social and political marginalization of Afro-Cubans in his first novel, Ecué-Yamba-O (1933). Wifredo Lam, an artist of Afro-Chinese descent, employed cubist techniques in paintings inspired by Afro-Caribbean religions. In their creative work, these artists focused on Cuba's urban black music and culture, which also became a source of inspiration for many middle-class white composers, such as Ernesto Lecuona As a result Afro Cuban ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanjournalist and nationalist born in Egypt of Egyptian and Sudanese parentage. At the age of 9 or 10 Ali was sent to England to be educated. He never returned to Egypt and spent most of his time between 1883 and 1921 living in Britain. During this period, he was poverty‐stricken, attempting to earn a living through his pen and tour acting. Ali published Land of the Pharaohs in 1911, an anti‐imperialist book that became a significant contribution to the decolonization efforts in the United States and West Africa.

In 1912Ali and John Eldred Taylor, a journalist from Sierra Leone, inaugurated the African Times and Orient Review (1912–20), a magazine that sought to deal with anti‐colonial issues that not merely embraced Pan‐African matters, but incorporated Pan‐Oriental topics as well. The journal was inspired by the Universal Races Congress in London in 1911 which advocated ...

Article

Magda Romanska

playwright, poet, writer, and one of the leaders of the black revolt of the 1960s. Imamu Amiri Baraka was born Everett Leroy Jones during the Great Depression in Newark, New Jersey. He is credited as one of the most outspoken advocates of a black cultural and political revival in the 1960s. He attended Barringer High School and Rutgers University, where he pursued philosophy and religious studies, before enrolling in Howard University in Washington, D.C. It was then that he changed his name to LeRoi Jones. Baraka graduated from Howard University in 1953, and in 1954 he joined the U S Air Force in which he served for three years When an anonymous tipster suggested that he was a communist sympathizer Baraka s belongings were searched for subversive literature Because some of his books were deemed socialist Baraka was discharged from the military Shortly thereafter he ...

Article

Aaron Myers

The phrase black aesthetic was used informally during the 1960s and adopted as a theoretical concept in 1971, with the publication of African American editor Addison Gayle's The Black Aesthetic, a collection of essays on the characteristics of the black aesthetic in literature and music. The black aesthetic encompasses a body of oral and written nonfiction and fiction that asserts the equality, uniqueness, and sometimes the superiority of African American modes of perception and expression; a set of political principles against inequality; and ethical and artistic criteria outlining what is valid and invalid writing by black Americans. One of the main expectations of a black aesthetic work is that it be politically engaged and socially uplifting.

According to critic Reginald Martin a black aesthetic has existed since the earliest writings by African Americans and its evolution can be divided into three chronological phases The first phase ...

Article

Dwain C. Pruitt

Between 1970 and 1975, Hollywood released over one hundred movies, mostly over-the-top action films, aimed primarily at African American filmgoers. These films have come to be known collectively as blaxploitation cinema. The term was coined in 1972 by Junius Griffin of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP in response to Superfly. Griffin and others felt that the film, the story of a cocaine dealer named Priest trying to make one final drug deal before leaving the business, exploited African American audiences’ desire to see African American stories portrayed onscreen by “taking our money [and] feeding us a forced diet of violence, murder, drugs, and rape.” Despite protests that black audiences were not being exploited, the term persisted and offers important insight into why these films were created and why they were so intensely popular during the first half of the 1970s.

Article

Louis J. Parascandola

one of the earliest black members of the Communist Party and the editor of several key radical periodicals. He was also the founder of the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), a secret paramilitary group that advocated militant black self-defense against oppression.

Cyril Valentine Briggs was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis. A child of mixed race, he was fair-skinned enough that he would later describe himself as the “angry, blond Negro.” Briggs immigrated to the United States in 1905, and soon he became involved in radical politics. Although he had a severe speech impediment that prevented him from speaking on behalf of his causes, he compensated by sharpening his skills as an author. He began working with the Amsterdam News in 1912 While with the newspaper he wrote increasingly militant articles arguing against American involvement in World War I and for establishing an autonomous black nation within the ...

Article

Peter Hudson

Cyril Valentine Briggs was one of the most radical individuals who contributed to the political and cultural foment of the New Negro movement in Harlem, New York, in the first decades of the twentieth century. Born in Nevis in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, Briggs immigrated in 1905 to New York, New York. By the 1910s he had worked for two African American newspapers: the Colored American Review and the Amsterdam News. He wrote an editorial that described the League of Nations as the “League of Thieves.” In 1919 he was forced to resign from the News after the editorial spurred an investigation by the United States Postal Service.

After leaving the Amsterdam News, Briggs committed his time to publication of his journal, the Crusader, which he had founded in 1918. The Crusader s early editorials advocated black self government and ...

Article

Eric Ledell Smith

businessman and banker, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Robert Brown, a turnkey in the local jail, and Anne Brown, a homemaker. E. C. Brown was the eldest of three children. He attended the public schools in Philadelphia and after his high school graduation worked for three years as a mail clerk at the financial firm of Bradstreet Mercantile. He took stenography and typewriting classes at the Spencerian Business College in Philadelphia and subsequently worked as a stenographer for the National Railway Company but was soon laid off. Brown then became secretary to a Frank Thompson, who ran a catering business in Florida in the late 1890s. Around 1901 Brown left Thompson and started a real estate business in Newport News, Virginia. By 1908 he was renting more than 300 houses and had more than 800 tenants. On 27 June 1908 he opened the Crown Savings Bank ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

activist and writer who popularized the “Black Power” slogan in the 1960s. A native of Trinidad, Carmichael, later known as Kwame Ture, immigrated to the United States at the age of eleven to join his parents, who had migrated several years earlier. Even as a child he demonstrated an interest in politics, and the socialist activist Bayard Rustin was one of his earliest role models.

A gifted student, Carmichael attended the Bronx High School of Science, graduating in 1960. Although he was offered admission to a number of colleges and universities, his growing racial consciousness led him to the historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C. He received his bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1964.

While a student he became involved in the civil rights movement participating initially in demonstrations organized by the Nonviolent Action Group NAG an organization devoted to challenging segregation in the vicinity of Washington ...

Article

Curtis Jacobs

was the first of three children born to Thomas Reginald “Reggie” Carr and Cecilia Behamie Carr, a devout Roman Catholic family at Belmont, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad on 7 March 1902. His father was a British estate owner, and his mother was a direct descendant of King David, a Mandingo who came to Trinidad during the nineteenth century. His siblings were Emelda Candella, born in October 1903, and Dorothy Victoria, born 23 December 1905.

Belmont was one of the places where survivors of the British slave trade gathered with Africans who the British had seized on slave ships in international waters and relocated to Trinidad, in an effort to enforce international compliance with the 1808 abolition of the British slave trade. During the period immediately prior to 1834 they lived nearly in near isolation, more or less living out their lives as Africans from the old country.

Carr attended ...

Article

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

Lauren Araiza and Joshua Bloom

Cleaver, Eldridge (31 August 1935–01 May 1998), social activist and writer, was born Leroy Eldridge Cleaver in Wabbaseka, Arkansas, the son of Leroy Cleaver, a waiter and nightclub piano player, and Thelma Hattie Robinson Cleaver, an elementary school teacher. When Cleaver was ten the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona; three years later, they moved again, this time to Los Angeles, California. Soon after, his parents separated. At this time, Cleaver became involved in criminal activities. In 1949 he was arrested for stealing a bicycle and was sent to reform school. In 1952 he was arrested for selling marijuana and was sent back to reform school. In 1954, a few days after his release, Cleaver was again arrested for marijuana possession and was sent to Soledad State Prison for a term of two and a half years.

While in Soledad Cleaver earned his high school diploma and studied ...

Article

Theresa W. Bennett-Wilkes

author, writer, essayist, and political activist. Leroy Eldridge Cleaver was the eldest son of Leroy Cleaver and Thelma Hattie Robinson Cleaver. He was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, where his father waited tables at a hotel and played piano in a nightclub. Cleaver's relatively happy childhood was shattered when his father began beating his mother. In his unpublished autobiography, Cleaver described the abuse his mother suffered each weekend and the frustration he felt due to his inability to stop it. The deterioration of his family, particularly his father's violent assaults on his mother, profoundly affected Cleaver. Thelma Cleaver and her children moved in with her in-laws on their farm in Wabbaseka, Arkansas. Later they moved to the Rose Hill section of Los Angeles, and the Cleavers divorced.

Cleaver defined this move to California as the event that changed his life By the time he was ...

Article

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

Paul A. Cimbala

Delany, Martin Robison (06 May 1812–24 January 1885), black nationalist, was born in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), the son of Samuel Delany, a slave, and Pati Peace, a free black seamstress. In 1822 his mother moved the family to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to avoid punishment for violating state law after whites discovered that she had taught her five children to read and write. In 1823 Samuel joined the family after he had, with his wife’s assistance, purchased his freedom. In 1832 Martin Delany moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the next year began an apprenticeship with Andrew N. McDowell, a local white doctor. In 1843 he married Catherine Richards. The couple had seven children, whom Delany proudly named after famous blacks. After being rejected by a number of medical schools, he entered Harvard Medical School in 1850 but was dismissed under the pressure of student protests.

While ...

Article

David Killingray

Campaigning Christian evangelist, author, journalist, and Pan‐Africanist born in Dominica but educated in the neighbouring West Indian island of Antigua. An influential friend in Antigua was the Revd Henry Mason Joseph, later president of the African Association in London in 1897. In 1870 Edwards stowed away on a ship and over the next few years he travelled the world as a seaman visiting North and South America and Europe He landed in Sunderland and thereafter lived briefly in Edinburgh and Newcastle and worked with a group of black entertainers At some point he was converted to Christianity and as a Primitive Methodist worked as a temperance evangelist in Lancashire and Cheshire He had ambitions to go to Africa as a missionary but gravitated to east London where he ran a weekly Bible class for men and regularly preached in Victoria Park Some referred to ...

Article

Writer and one of the lesser known Pan‐Africanist leaders born in Nigeria, the son of a Baptist mission preacher. Fadipe was brought up in the church missionary school. He became the personal secretary to the manager of Barclays Bank, Lagos. He travelled to Britain and earned a BA degree at the London School of Economics in 1929. He was subsequently awarded fellowships to study at Woodbrooke College in Birmingham and then for his MA at Columbia University, New York. His dissertation entitled ‘A Yoruba Town: A Sociological Study of Abeokuta’, was the first study of its kind by an African academic on Nigeria. Fadipe subsequently took up a teaching post at Achimota College in the Gold Coast but returned to London after his contract was not renewed.

Once again at the London School of Economics in 1934 Fadipe pursued a Ph D working on the first major sociological ...

Article

Michael Maiwald

author and physician, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of John Wesley Fisher, a clergyman, and Glendora Williamson. Fisher was raised in Providence, Rhode Island, and in 1919 received his BA from Brown University, where he studied both English and biology. Fisher's dual interests, literature and science, were reflected in his achievements at Brown, where he won numerous oratorical contests and was granted departmental honors in biology; the following year he received an MA in Biology. In 1920 Fisher returned to Washington to attend Howard University Medical School. He graduated with highest honors in June 1924 and interned at Washington's Freedman's Hospital. Later that year Fisher married Jane Ryder, a local teacher, with whom he had one son.

When Fisher moved to New York in 1925 he made rapid advances in his careers as a doctor and a writer A bright young physician Fisher ...