educator, diplomat, and advocate of Pan‐Africanism, was born on the island of St. Thomas, part of the present‐day Virgin Islands, the son of Romeo Blyden, a tailor, and Judith (maiden name unknown), a schoolteacher. The family lived in a predominantly Jewish, English‐speaking community in the capital, Charlotte Amalie. Blyden went to the local primary school but also received private tutoring from his father. In 1842 the Blydens left St. Thomas for Porto Bello, Venezuela, where Blyden showed his–facility for learning foreign languages. By 1844 the family had returned home to St. Thomas. Blyden attended school only in the morning, and in the afternoons he served a five‐year apprenticeship as a tailor. In 1845 the Blyden family met the Reverend John P Knox a famous white American minister who had assumed pastorship of the Dutch Reformed Church in St Thomas where the Blydens were members Knox quickly became Blyden ...
David A. Gerber
educator, politician, and civil rights leader, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Michael Clark, a barber, and his wife (name unknown). Clark was the product of a complex, mixed racial ancestry that formed the basis for a lifelong struggle to find a place for himself in both the white and African American worlds. The oral tradition of Peter Clark's family and of the Cincinnati African American community contends that Michael Clark was the son of the explorer William Clark, a Kentucky slaveowner who had children by his biracial slave Betty. Major Clark is said to have freed Betty and their children and settled them in Cincinnati. There she married and started another family with John Isom Gaines an affluent black man who owned a steamboat provisioning business Though it was never authenticated there is little doubt that Peter Clark himself believed the story of this ...
Jocelyn L. Womack
activist, educator, and lawyer, was born Kathleen Neal in Dallas, Texas, to Ernest Neal and Juette Johnson, educators. Activism and scholarship were staples of the Neal family home, as both of her parents held advanced degrees. Ernest and Juette met while attending the University of Michigan in the 1940s. Juette held a master's degree in mathematics, and Ernest earned a PhD in Sociology. Ernest was working as a Wiley College sociology professor in Marshall, Texas, at the time of Kathleen's birth.
Shortly after Kathleen s birth Ernest accepted a job at Tuskegee Institute relocating the family to Alabama In addition to Kathleen s early exposure to academia her father s work in foreign aid promoted a family environment in which social progress was frequently discussed At the age of nine Kathleen had already embarked upon a life of global travel and had an appreciation of diverse cultures Her father ...
Wilson J. Moses
clergyman, activist, and Pan-Africanist, was born in New York City, the son of Charity Hicks, a freeborn woman of Long Island, New York, and Boston Crummell, an African of the Temne people, probably from the region that is now Sierra Leone. Boston Crummell had been captured and brought to the United States as a youth. The circumstances of his emancipation are not clear, but it is said that he simply refused to serve his New York owners any longer after reaching adulthood. Boston Crummell established a small oyster house in the African Quarter of New York. Alexander Crummell received his basic education at the African Free School in Manhattan. In 1835 he traveled to Canaan, New Hampshire, along with his friends Thomas Sidney and Henry Highland Garnet to attend the newly established Noyes Academy but shortly after their arrival the school was destroyed by local residents angered by ...
Zachery R. Williams
Alexander Crummell was born in New York City, the son of Boston Crummell, said to have been an African prince, and a free mother (whose name is unknown). Crummell, one of the most prominent black nationalist intellectuals and ministers of the nineteenth century, strongly believed that the combination of Christianity and education would elevate blacks in America and Africa to a high level of civilization and prominence as a race. As a youth, Crummell came under the influence of the Reverend Peter Williams Jr., a staunch supporter of back-to-Africa movements. Prior to the Civil War, Crummell was a major supporter of African colonization. Ironically, however, his earliest success as an orator was as an opponent of the American Colonization Society.
Crummell spent the years 1853 to 1872 in Liberia with his family and became a citizen of the country Upon his arrival there he worked as a missionary ...
Frank E. Dobson
pioneering scholar, religious thinker, and black nationalist leader. Alexander Crummell was born in 1819 in New York City to Boston Crummell, a former slave, and Charity Hicks Crummell, a freeborn black woman. Crummell's father was taken from Sierra Leone at age thirteen and sold into slavery in America. Crummell's parents were members of a group known as “Free Africans,” and they were activists in the movement to abolish slavery, as well as in other social-uplift efforts for blacks. John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish, the editors of the first black newspaper, Freedom's Journal (1827), were associates of Boston Crummell and met regularly within the Crummell home. Alexander Crummell was educated at the African Free School—alumni of which included Henry Highland Garnet and Ira Aldridge—and at the Canal Street High School run by Peter Williams a black clergyman and abolitionist who became a ...
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 ...
J. B. Danquah was one of the founders of the modern state of Ghana. He cofounded the country’s first nationalist party in 1947. Danquah led the opposition to Kwame Nkrumah after Nkrumah became the country’s leading nationalist figure. To silence Danquah, Nkrumah had him confined to prison, where Danquah died under miserable conditions.
By birth, Danquah belonged to the royal family of Akyem Abuakwa, a province of Asante. He attended Basel Mission Schools in Akyem Abuakwa. Subsequently, he studied in London, England, where he received a law degree and a Ph.D. in ethics in 1927. Danquah returned to the then British colony of the Gold Coast (now Ghana), where he practiced law privately. In 1931 he founded the Times of West Africa, which became a leading newspaper.
Danquah s editorial writing led him into politics in opposition to British colonial repression and exploitation During the ...
Tomeiko Ashford Carter
literary critic and Black Arts proponent, was born in Newport News, Virginia, the son of Addison Gayle Sr., a Communist Party spokesperson, and Carrie (Holloman) Gayle. Gayle was born during the Depression, and his parents divorced early in his life. Despite his mother's well-paying job at a nearby military base during World War II, Gayle and his immediate family remained well acquainted with poverty. He grew up in a black enclave and rarely saw whites. Still, he envied the apparent success that he believed all whites had.
In his autobiography Wayward Child: A Personal Odyssey, Gayle maintains that he was penalized by many of his high school teachers for being racially unmixed, poor, and seemingly arrogant. They despised him because he excelled on state exams and because he boasted about reading works by the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky and the African American writer Richard Wright Gayle ...
Pan‐Africanist and journalist born in Trinidad who became a schoolteacher. During the First World War he arrived in Britain and studied at London University. In 1918John Eldred Taylor asked him to become the editor of a new newspaper in London, the African Telegraph. Hercules also became general secretary of the Society of Peoples of African Origin and associate secretary of the African Progress Union. In this capacity he spoke at a protest meeting at Hyde Park Corner condemning the race riots in Liverpool, also writing to the Colonial Secretary demanding that black people should be protected from white violence. In particular he fiercely condemned in the African Telegraph the assault by hundreds of white soldiers on black soldiers who were patients at the Belmont Hospital in Liverpool. When it was announced that black soldiers would not participate in the victory celebrations in London in July 1919 ...
S. Sherrie Tartt
educator, human rights and community activist, was born Ericka Jenkins in Washington, D.C., to Cozette Jenkins, a secretary for the State Department, and Gervazae Jenkins, a clerk at the Pentagon. In high school Ericka was conscious of the inequality and discrimination African Americans experienced and participated in community service projects. Her first opportunity to partake in the excitement of the civil rights movement was with the 1963 March on Washington, which her parents did not want her to attend. Yet at age fifteen her rebel spirit was awakening as she defied her parents and stood among the multitude of marchers. She recalled that the powerful voice of Lena Horne singing the word “freedom” inspired her. The historic march cemented her determination to serve people for the rest of her life.
After high school Ericka was one of the first women to attend Lincoln University after transferring ...
Hunt was born Ida Alexander Gibbs on November 16, 1862, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Her father, Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, was a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who had achieved great success as an entrepreneur in California and then in British Columbia. In the late 1860s, while he continued business ventures in Canada, he sent the family to live in Oberlin, Ohio, where Ida's mother, the former Maria Alexander, had attended college. Ida completed two degrees at Oberlin College, specializing in English. She received a B.A. degree in 1884 and an M.A. degree in 1892. A classmate and friend in Ida's class of 1884 was Mary Church Terrell, later known as a civil rights leader. Ida's younger sister, Harriet Gibbs Marshall, likewise later became well known as the founder of the Washington, D.C. Conservatory of Music After college Ida Gibbs taught ...
African‐American composer born in Charleston, South Carolina, where his father had recently founded an orphanage where vocational training included music. Jenkins abandoned his studies in Atlanta to play the clarinet with a band appearing at the Anglo‐American Exhibition in London in 1914. The band's performance was a success, and Jenkins decided to remain in England after the band's return to the United States. He then enrolled as a student at the Royal Academy of Music. His studies included composition with Frederick Corder, a Wagner enthusiast. He taught the clarinet, and graduated in 1921. With Caribbean students in the Coterie of Friends, Jenkins mounted a concert in 1919 with himself conducting; four instrumentalists were from the Southern Syncopated Orchestra, an American group in Britain until 1921. They played his Charlestonia, an orchestral work with three black melodies, and works by Samuel Coleridge‐Taylor.
John Alcindor ...
A. Kia Sinclair
creator of the holiday of Kwanzaa. Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga was born Ronald McKinley Everett in Parsonsburg, Maryland. Karenga left Maryland in 1958 and relocated to Los Angeles. While in Los Angeles, Karenga developed into a key intellectual, political, and cultural figure. Karenga attended Los Angeles City College, where he became the first black to serve as student-body president. He received his BA and MA degrees in political science and African studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Karenga received two PhDs, the first in political science from the United States International University (1976) and the second in social ethics from the University of Southern California (1993). Karenga was also awarded an honorary PhD from South Africa's University of Durban-Westville.
In the 1960s with the Black Power movement on the rise African Americans were asserting their blackness by sporting Afros and dashikis and by abandoning the ...
Joan B. Huffman
writer and activist, was born in Macon, Georgia, the son of Charles Myles Killens Sr., a restaurant manager, and Willie Lee Coleman, an insurance company clerk. Killens attended the local public school for African Americans, Pleasant Hill School, through grade seven, after which he attended Ballard Normal School, a private institution that provided education for African Americans through the twelfth grade, one year longer than the public high schools. Following his graduation in 1933 Killens attended Edward Waters College in Jacksonville Florida for one year after which he transferred to Morris Brown College in Atlanta Georgia Killens left Morris Brown during his sophomore year for employment with the National Labor Relations Board NLRB in Washington D C where according to Killens he was the only black employee at the time He continued his college education as an evening student at Howard University and Robert H Terrell ...
Distinguished public intellectual, one of the founding figures of the field of development economics, which came to prominence after the Second World War. For his pioneering work in this field, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1979.
historian, teacher, and author. Rayford Whittingham Logan was a marginal civil rights figure yet a key voice in post–World War I race relations. Born in Washington, D.C., and educated in the district's segregated school system, Logan graduated from Dunbar High School, where Carter G. Woodson—later to play a key part in Logan's life—was an instructor. After continuing his education at Williams College in Massachusetts, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1917, Logan returned home and joined the District of Columbia National Guard, seeing combat in Europe as an infantry second lieutenant.
The U.S. Army in 1917 was segregated and like so many World Wars I and II black veterans Logan was deeply affected by his military experience After the war he was discharged but chose to remain in France an expatriate bitter against white Americans At home racial violence was widespread from Chicago ...
Student, born the son of Bureh, regent (Nengbana) of the Koya Temne of Sierre Leone, who in 1791 granted land for a settlement to an agent of the London‐based Sierra Leone Company (who mistakenly called him King Naimbana). Aged about 24, he went to England for education at the Company's expense. The directors welcomed ‘the Black Prince’ enthusiastically, particularly Henry Thornton, the chairman, and Granville Sharp, the originator of the settlement project, from whom he took new names and became Henry Granville Naimbana. They saw in him a means of fulfilling their mission to introduce ‘the Blessings of Civilization and Industry’ into Africa.
Described as easy manly and confident in deportment pettish and implacable in disposition and with a great thirst for knowledge he proved an excellent student A surviving letter he wrote is lucidly expressed and well written Thornton recorded anecdotes of his reactions to life ...
educator and activist, was born to parents Walter and Vera Henry in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as Richard Bullock Henry. Known later as Imari Obadele, he became one of the most recognized organizers of the reparations movement in the United States.
An important influence in Obadele's decision to become an activist was his older brother Milton Henry (1919–2006), who joined the military around the time Richard joined the Boy Scouts at age eleven. Milton eventually achieved the rank of second lieutenant, but against the harsh waves of Jim Crow segregation he surfaced as one of the leading opponents of the rigid forms of discrimination then endured by black officers Because of his dissent he eventually was court martialed and dishonorably discharged Nevertheless even without the benefits of the GI Bill he went on to graduate from Lincoln University and after being denied admission to Temple University attended Yale ...
Guyanesehistorian and revolutionary. Rodney was born in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana). His father was a tailor and his mother a seamstress, and despite hailing from a working‐class background, Rodney excelled academically and won various scholarships to further his education. He was awarded a Ph.D. in African history in 1966 from the School of Oriental and African Studies. His doctoral thesis, which was on slavery between 1545 and 1800 on the Upper Guinea Coast, was published in 1970 Rodney was a daring academic and challenged Western suppositions of history and historiography His first teaching post was in Tanzania but he soon returned to the Caribbean to advocate the strengths of the Black Power Movement The notion of Black Liberation was one that he spread across the poor in Jamaica disclosing his knowledge of African history to the Rastafarians Rodney s closeness to the lower classes incited suspicion ...