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Article

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 ...

Primary Source

At a time when women were often discouraged from joining the abolitionist movement, some of the most passionate and militant rhetoric came from political activist Maria W. Stewart (1803–1879). Self-educated and self-employed, Stewart began a series of lectures on equal rights and race relations in 1832. Though inspired by the work of abolitionist David Walker (1796–1830)—specifically his political tract Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World (1829)—Stewart also used intense religious imagery and exhortation to make her point. These themes are evident in her pamphlet “Religion and the Pure Principles of Morality, the Sure Foundation on Which We Must Build” (1831), the first political manifesto published by an African American woman. Soon, William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist newspaper, the Liberator was publishing her speeches including the one reproduced below which was delivered in Boston on 27 February 1833 Here the militancy for which she was so often criticized is ...

Article

Jeffrey A. Fortin

The idea of Africa changed dramatically from antiquity to the era of European exploration and colonization; European and African views of each other continually transformed as a result of the evolving nature of their interaction. The Atlantic slave trade, perhaps the most significant event in the history of Africa, forever changed the manner in which Africans and Europeans intermingled. Perceptions of Africa were fluid, shifting according to geographic, economic, political, racial, and religious factors stemming from within as well as outside the continent. By 1830 the most broadly held notion of Africa had transformed from one of reverence, by the peoples of antiquity, to one of contempt and apprehension, by early modern Europeans. For Africans in the diaspora, the land of their ancestors' birth remained a symbol of guidance, hope, and spirituality.

Article

Frank A. Salamone

Africa has meant many different things to many different people. The word “Africa” may have come from a Greek word meaning “without cold” or from a Latin reference to the “land of the Afri,” probably a Berber tribe. There is also a similar Latin word meaning “warm.” Whatever the origin of the word itself, “Africa” has certain meanings for African Americans and other meanings for white Americans. Within each of these groups, of course, there are many subdivisions, ranging along the entire spectrum of political and cultural opinions.

For some time, it was common for Europeans and white Americans to refer to Africa as the Dark Continent, with a derogatory connotation. The word “Africa” carried with it the meaning of lack of civilization, intellect, and sophistication. As Dorothy Hammond and Alta Jablow observe in The Myth of Africa the West defined Africa as that which the West was not ...

Article

Camille A. Collins

founder of MOVE, an anarchist communal organization active primarily in the Philadelphia area, was born Vincent Leaphart in the Mantua section of West Philadelphia.

Africa served in the Korean War, though little else is known about his early life. In the early 1970s, while working as a neighborhood handyman and dog walker (nicknamed “the dog man”), he began to corral followers. With the assistance of Donald Glassey a white graduate student in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania Africa a third grade dropout compiled the MOVE doctrine in a document known as The Guidelines His group was first known as The Christian Movement for Life later The Movement and finally MOVE Numerous press reports stress the fact that MOVE is not an acronym and therefore the tenets of the group can only be vaguely delineated Responding to this criticism group member Delbert Africa quipped It means what it says ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

activist and sole adult survivor of a deadly bombing of a home of the MOVE organization, in one of Philadelphia's black neighborhoods, that killed 11 people and left over 250 people homeless. Africa was born Ramona Johnson in West Philadelphia, where she was raised by her mother, Eleanor Jones, and attended Catholic school from first through twelfth grade. She then attended Temple University, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and an associate's degree in Criminal Justice. In 1976, her last year at Temple, she was hired by Community Legal Services, the state-sponsored legal aid in Philadelphia. There she worked helping tenants with legal issues they had with their landlords, an experience that set the foundation for activism later in her life. “Prior to that I was not active in anything,” Africa said I had a general idea about injustice by police brutality and ...

Article

Rochell Isaac

The African Blood Brotherhood for African Liberation and Redemption (ABB) was a Marxist communist and black nationalist organization that emerged in response to the violent race riots of the Red Summer of 1919. Founded in 1919 in Harlem by Cyril V. Briggs a West Indian immigrant the organization was structured as a secret fraternal society for men and women of African descent it espoused armed self defense Its objectives were racial equality a liberated and unified black race the cultivation of racial self respect organized opposition to the Ku Klux Klan industrial development education of the black masses higher wages and improved working conditions for African American workers and cooperation with other dark races and class conscious white workers Because the organization and the actions of its members were to be kept secret much of the ABB s early activities are not documented The ABB gained publicity only ...

Article

The urban uprisings of the late 1960s in the United States brought together black intellectuals and the urban masses, producing a new generation of militant organizations. The 1970s witnessed a resurgence of Pan-Africanism in the Black Power movement. A key group dedicated to the civil rights movement in the United States and the liberation struggle in Africa, the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC), was a united front of black nationalist, Pan-Africanist, and Marxist groups.

At a 1963 meeting, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) declared 25 May African Liberation Day (ALD). In 1971, the African American educator Owusu Saduakai Howard Fuller led a delegation of black nationalists to Africa They met with leaders of the fight against Portuguese colonialism in Angola Guinea Bissau and Mozambique Upon the group s return Saduakai announced the establishment of the African Liberation Day Coordinating Committee whose purpose was to generate support among ...

Article

Sandy Dwayne Martin

clergyman, community activist, denomination organizer, and black nationalist was born Albert Buford Cleage Jr., one of seven children of Pearl (whose maiden name is now unknown) and Albert Cleage Sr., in Indianapolis, Indiana. Shortly after Agyeman's birth, Cleage, Sr., a medical doctor, relocated with his family to Detroit, Michigan, where the father helped to establish the city's first African American hospital. After an undergraduate education that included a stay at Fisk University in Tennessee, Agyeman received his BA in Sociology from Wayne State University in 1937, serving as a caseworker for the Department of Public Welfare from 1931 to 1938. Subsequently Agyeman felt the call to ministry and obtained a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Oberlin College Graduate School of Theology in 1943. Also in 1943Agyeman married Doris Graham, to which union was born two children, Kris and the ...

Article

Robert Fay

Born Timothy Drew in North Carolina, Noble Drew Ali received little formal education. At age sixteen he began performing as a circus magician and traveled the world, during which time he was influenced by Eastern religions, including Islam with its racial inclusiveness. He concluded that American blacks were Moors, that they had descended from the Moabites of Canaan, and that their true home was Morocco. Ali also believed that before the American Revolution, which began in 1775, blacks had been free. Only at the Continental Congress of 1779 had blacks been forced into slavery and stripped of their Moorish identity.

In 1913, based on these principles, he founded the Moorish Science Temple of America in Newark, New Jersey, and published the Holy Qu'ran (Koran) of the Moorish Holy Temple of Science as a catechism Membership requirements were the acceptance of Moorish identity and ...

Article

Manfred Berg

[This entry consists of two subentries, on the conferences of 1916 and 1933.]

Article

Douglas R. Egerton and Judith Mulcahy

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the American Colonization Society from its establishment in1817 through 1895. The first article discusses reactions and controversy related to the society until1830, while the second article includes discussion of debates within the free black community and attacks on ...

Primary Source

If England's colonies in the New World were forced to decide between willingly participating in a system of governance that appeared to consider them less-than-equal and staging an armed uprising against that system, so too did African Americans face a similar choice in the heyday of the American Civil Rights Movement. The idea of a choice between the “ballot or the bullet” did not originate with Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little, 1925–1965); indeed Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) had penned an essay called “The Ballot and the Bullet” nearly a century earlier in 1859, and Abraham Lincoln had famously insisted to the first Republican convention in Illinois “the ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

Delivered in Cleveland Ohio to a symposium assembled to consider that very theme Malcolm X s Ballot or the Bullet address served as a blueprint for an emerging black nationalism It was not only an expression of frustration ...

Article

The Baltimore chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded in the early 1950s. The chapter was originally composed of a small group of black and white, middle-class members who were dedicated to interracialism and using Gandhian, nonviolent direct action to protest against racially discriminatory public accommodations. Shortly after its founding, the chapter embarked on a sit-in campaign in cooperation with African American students against Jim Crow lunch counters and department stores both in downtown Baltimore and around the campus of Morgan State College, now University, a historically black institution in northeast Baltimore. Using direct action and negotiations, Baltimore CORE, often in conjunction with the Civic Interest Group (CIG), an independent, student-led civil rights organization, successfully desegregated an impressive number of public accommodations in the 1950s and 1960s.

Baltimore CORE received national attention from the 1960 Freedom Rides that challenged Jim Crow practices in establishments located along ...

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 ...

Primary Source

Two of the early twentieth century’s most public black leaders, Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Du Bois, had differing ideas on how to best achieve African American liberation. Garvey, founder of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), was an avowed separatist, once meeting with the Ku Klux Klan to validate his racial division ethos; Du Bois was a strident champion of integration. Still, for all of their differences in ideology, scholars have argued, it was largely class animus that propelled their infamous acrimony. Harvard-trained and the originator of the Talented Tenth ideal, Du Bois worked and socialized among wealthy and well-educated whites. In contrast, Garvey—who was born into poverty in Jamaica and took on employment at fourteen years old—had little contact with the upper echelons of academia or wealth.

Their relationship began favorably and Du Bois even took an early interest in the Black Star Line the crown jewel ...

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

One of the most important aspects of the Civil Rights (1945–1965) and Black Power (1966–1975) movements, or simply put, the Movement, was the increasing awareness among contemporary African Americans of the centrality of a positive racial identity. Black Consciousness here refers to how and with what consequences individuals of African descent in the United States have defined themselves as a people.

Since the creation of the American nation, and especially since emancipation during the Civil War and Reconstruction years, each generation of blacks have consistently endeavored to build on the struggles of their forbears. Black Consciousness crystallizes this enduring sensibility of struggle—both failure and achievement. Consequently, it includes how they have collectively viewed their history and culture. Black Consciousness also reflects the relationship between Africans in Africa and those spread throughout the African diaspora, in this case African Americans in the United States.

Black eventually ...

Article

Peter Brush

The Black Liberation Army (BLA) defined itself as a politico-military organization engaged in armed struggle against the U.S. government. Operating from about 1971 to 1981, the BLA used tactics including bombings, robberies, and prison breaks. Although not all its members were Marxists, the BLA considered itself the embryonic form of the people's army of the black nation in America. It compared itself to the National Liberation Front, or Vietcong, of Vietnam. The BLA credited Malcolm X for its ideology and claimed to be the inheritor of Malcolm's legacy.

The Black Panther Party (BPP) was the largest, most important revolutionary organization of the black liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s. By 1968 because of government repression some Panther leaders saw the need for a guerrilla army that would serve as a vanguard revolutionary force According to this concept the force would be the Black Liberation Army It would ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges and Thomas Adams Upchurch

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with black nationalism from the seventeenth century slave trade through the late nineteenth century The first article discusses the first formations of African national identities and the influence of various revolutions on black nationalism while the second focuses on the most significant figures ...