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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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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.


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Cecily Jones

Co‐founder with Marcus Garvey (whose wife she was) of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and member of the London‐based Pan‐African movement. Ashwood was not only a political activist, but also a journalist, music producer, playwright, lecturer, and businesswoman. In 1914 she met Garvey at a debate in Kingston and helped to organize the inaugural meeting of the UNIA. The same year, aged just 17, she became UNIA's first secretary and a member of its management board, and co‐founded its Ladies' Auxiliary Wing. Ashwood married Garvey in New York in 1919, where the couple established the American headquarters of UNIA. Her role as Garvey's chief aide and general secretary helped to build UNIA into an international Pan‐African organization.

After the collapse of her marriage in 1922, Ashwood travelled worldwide, lecturing on black self‐determination, Pan‐Africanism and women s rights In England she found her intellectual home among the ...


Ula Y. Taylor

Garvey, Amy Euphemia Jacques (31 December 1896–25 July 1973), journalist, Pan-Africanist, and the second wife of black nationalist Marcus Garvey, journalist, Pan-Africanist, and the second wife of black nationalist Marcus Garvey was born in Kingston Jamaica the daughter of George Samuel Jacques a property owner and Charlotte maiden name unknown Amy Jacques s family was rooted in the Jamaican middle class thus she was formally educated at Wolmer s Girls School an elite institution in Jamaica As a young woman she suffered from ailing health due to recurring bouts with malaria In need of a cooler climate she emigrated to the United States in 1917 and settled in New York City where she had relatives After hearing contradictory reports about the Universal Negro Improvement Association UNIA recently founded by Garvey she attended a meeting in Harlem She was intrigued by the organization and in 1918 became ...



Elizabeth Heath

Louis Hunkanrin was born in Porto-Novo, Dahomey (present-day Benin). One of the earliest critics of French colonialism in Dahomey, Hunkanrin spent most of his adult life imprisoned for challenging colonial policies and attempting to win new respect and rights for Africans in French West Africa. A descendant of the royal family of Porto-Novo, Hunkanrin received an exceptional early education and matriculated at the école Normale in Senegal, where he graduated with a teaching degree in 1904. Immediately afterward he accepted a teaching position at a public school in Whydah and began vocalizing his criticism of France's arbitrary colonial policies.

Hunkanrin was dismissed from the school in 1909 after a series of disputes with the headmaster. He subsequently accepted a job at the Compagnie Française de l'Afrique Occidentale (C.F.A.O.), but in 1912 he was fired tried and convicted for insulting and threatening his superior He was sent to prison ...


Norman O. Richmond

Black Panther known as one of the Soledad brothers and the author of a best-selling collection of letters written from prison. George Jackson was born in Chicago and spent his formative years in Southern California. He went to prison at age eighteen for a seventy-dollar robbery and spent a large part of the rest of his life behind bars. Jackson rose to be the leading prison intellectual of his time and during his incarceration became a member of the Black Panther Party. His two books, Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson (1970) and Blood in My Eye (1972), were international best sellers. The great Caribbean intellectual C. L. R. James (1901–1989) considered Jackson's letters to be “the most remarkable political documents that have appeared inside or outside the United States since the death of Lenin” (Marable, p. 11).

Jackson wrote passionate letters ...


Amar Wahab

Political activist, journalist, black nationalist, community leader, and feminist. Born in 1915 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Jones moved to New York with her parents and three sisters at the age of 8. Her formal education was ended prematurely by tuberculosis, which damaged her lungs and permanently affected her health. She became actively involved with the Young Communist League of the American Communist Party, and was a vociferous advocate of human and civil rights. She was the editor of Negro Affairs for the Party's paper the Daily Worker, and in 1948 was elected to the Party's National Committee.

After being arrested four times for her involvement in campaigns for a socialist revolution, Jones was deported from the United States and given asylum in England. In exile she worked closely with London's African‐Caribbean community and founded and edited the West Indian Gazette which was vital to her fight for ...


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 ...


French is the official language of nineteen states in Africa, from Senegal in the extreme west, through the republics that border the Congo River in the heart of the continent, to the island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The privileged position of French in this area is a direct consequence of European colonialism, which often brought together within the same administrative boundaries, and under one colonial power, different ethnic groups, each with its own language and forms of sociopolitical organization and cultural expression. As a result, the language of the European colonizer assumed in each territory a commanding position due as much to its promotion by official policy as to the advantage it enjoyed as the only common language among the colonized African population.


J. Scrimgeour

Born Malcolm Little (and later also known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) in Omaha, Nebraska, on 19 May 1925, Malcolm X was the fourth of eight children of the Reverend Earl Little and his wife, Louise. Soon after Malcolm's birth the Littles moved to the outskirts of East Lansing, Michigan. When Malcolm was six, his father died, presumably murdered by the Black Legion, a violent racist group similar to the Ku Klux Klan, and the Little home life became more and more difficult. Louise was eventually placed in the state mental hospital, and her children were declared wards of the state. In 1941 Malcom moved to Boston to live with his half sister, Ella He became caught up in the nightlife of Boston and later New York After a few years in the underworld of Harlem selling drugs and working for call girl services Malcolm began a burglary ...


Roanne Edwards

Religion has been the principal form of resistance in Jamaica since colonial times. As one scholar of Rastafarianism, Barry Chevannes, affirms: “Whether resistance through the use of force, or resistance through symbolic forms such as language, folk-tales and proverbs … religion was the main driving force among the Jamaican peasants.” During the early twentieth century, resistance in Jamaica reached its pinnacle with the birth of Rastafarianism, as much an Afrocentric worldview and form of black nationalism as it was a new religion, inspired by the independent, anticolonial Christian tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. As Horace Campell notes, “Rastafari culture combines the histories of the children of slaves in different societies. Within it are both the negative and the positive—the idealist and the ideological—responses of an exploited and racially humiliated people.”