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Kate Tuttle

The son of an Ethiopian father and a mother of French and African descent, Peter Abrahams was considered “Coloured” in the South African racial classification scheme. He grew up outside Johannesburg and began working at the age of nine, never having attended school. He later enrolled, however, after he was inspired by hearing Othello read to him by a coworker. As a teenager Abrahams discovered works by African American writers such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer in the library at the Bantu Men's Social Centre.

Abrahams began publishing his own poems in local newspapers while studying at a teachers’ training college. While enrolled at St. Peter's Secondary School—a fertile political environment—Abrahams became a member of the Communist Party of South Africa (later renamed the South African Communist Party After his failed attempt to start a school for poor African ...

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Richard Newman

George Alexander McGuire (1866–1934) was an Antiguan ordained in the Episcopal Church in the United States who responded enthusiastically to the Black Nationalism of Marcus Garvey. McGuire envisioned an autonomous black church in the Episcopal tradition as a dimension of the Garvey Movement, much as the Anglican Church served as an international aspect of the British Empire. In 1921 he founded the African Orthodox Church (AOC) in New York. It attracted primarily West Indians sympathetic to Anglicanism, but also some Episcopalians and Roman Catholics who saw little future for blacks in American churches.

Garvey himself never joined the AOC, and in fact warned against both religious divisiveness and competing loyalties to his Universal Negro Improvement Association McGuire vigorously promoted a racially identified faith creating nationalist liturgies and calling for the image of a black Christ Unable to secure consecration to the bishopric from recognized authorities ...

Article

Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán was born and received his primary and secondary schooling in Veracruz, where there was a strong African influence, before studying medicine in Mexico City. In the 1920s and 1930s intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos undertook pioneering studies of Indians in Mexico, whose culture and history had largely been viewed with disdain until then. The studies resurrected a degree of interest in and dignity for Indian heritage. Although Vasconcelos argued that much of indigenous culture should be subsumed in a larger Mexican culture, Aguirre Beltrán believed that indigenous cultures were worthy of study for their own sake. After graduating from the University of Mexico with a medical degree, Aguirre Beltrán returned to Veracruz, where he held a post in public health that further sparked his interest in Indian ethnicity and history. In 1940 he published two studies on the ethnohistory of colonial and precolonial Indians in ...

Article

Carlos Dalmau

A passionate speaker and outspoken critic of United States imperialism and the 1898 invasion and occupation of Puerto Rico, Pedro Albizu Campos spent many years in prison for his role in the pro-independence nationalist movement, during the turbulent years of the 1930s through the 1950s. He opposed the annexation of Puerto Rico by the United States when the island was ceded by the Spanish after the Spanish-Cuban-American War (1895–1898). For Albizu, Puerto Ricans—ethnically mixed and culturally different—were not, and should not be, Americans. Independence was the only legitimate and anti-imperialist solution to the island's status.

From an early age Albizu stood out as an excellent student He grew up in the city of Ponce a municipality in southern Puerto Rico where he received a grant that gave him the opportunity to study chemical engineering at the University of Vermont He later graduated from the Harvard Law School where ...

Article

Richard Watts

Alexis was born into one of Haiti's literary families. His father, Stéphen Alexis, was the author of Le Nègre masqué (1933) and wrote a work on the history of Haiti. After finishing his studies at the Saint-Louis de Gonzague Institute, Jacques Alexis studied medicine in both Port-au-Prince and Paris, France. Returning to Haiti after receiving his degree, he participated in the revolt of 1946. Alexis soon fled Haiti for fear of political persecution. From that point forward, he spent most of his time traveling, visiting the countries of the Middle East, Russia, and China, before settling in Cuba. But the lure of his native Haiti was strong, and he returned clandestinely to the northwest part of the island in 1961, in spite of reservations regarding the corrupt regime of François Duvalier Alexis was arrested and is believed to have died in captivity ...

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Miguel Algarín was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. His family emigrated from Puerto Rico to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, when he was nine years old. The Lower East Side's Latin urban landscape served as the foundation for his literary career. Algarín obtained his B.A. in romance languages from the University of Wisconsin in 1963 and his M.A. in English literature from Pennsylvania State University in 1965. He completed his doctoral studies in comparative literature at Rutgers University. He served as an instructor at Brooklyn College and New York University before becoming an assistant professor and chair of the Puerto Rican Studies department at Rutgers University. He is currently a professor emeritus at Rutgers.

While Algarín is a popular educator he is best known as one of the most active authors in the Puerto Rican poetic movement that flourished in New York City in the ...

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Jorge Amado, who wrote more than thirty novels during his career, played a significant role in representing African culture in Brazilian literature. Among his subjects are the blacks of Salvador, in Amado's home state of Bahia, and the African religious rituals that sustain them. Although Amado's approach to Afro-Brazilian traditions is sympathetic and exceptionally detailed, his Bahian novels have met with much controversy. A younger generation of Brazilian and non-Brazilian critics have accused Amado of creating overly exotic portraits of black culture and creating simplistic, class-bound character types.

Amado the son of a plantation owner in Bahia attended a Jesuit college at age 12 However after just one year he rebelled against the strict lifestyle at the school and left to live with his grandfather During the 1930s Amado joined the Brazilian Communist Party and his writings from this period reflect his ideological commitment to communism These works such ...

Article

John Burdick

The worship of Anastacia began in Brazil in the early 1970s The devotion to her centers upon a striking portrait of a young black woman with piercing blue eyes wearing a face iron an iron face mask that slaves were made to wear as a form of punishment Legend has it that Anastacia was tortured with the face iron when she refused to submit to the lust of her master Legend also has it that before she died she forgave her master and cured his child of a fatal disease Although the Catholic Church denounces the devotion to her as superstition at best and heresy at worst millions of Brazilians of all colors are deeply devoted to this woman whom they regard as possessing in death unparalleled supernatural powers Many of her devotees carry a small medallion of her image around their neck others keep a card with her ...

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Gregory Freeland

Jean-Bertrand Aristide turned from his original goal of becoming a priest to serve as a reform-minded leader of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Driven from the Haitian presidency by a military coup in 1991, Aristide returned to power in 1994 to finish his term, then took office for a second time in 2001.

Aristide was born in Port-Salut, Haiti. Soon after he was born his father died, and with his mother and sister he moved to Port-au-Prince At the age of five he became a student in a Roman Catholic school run by the order of the Salesian Brothers He learned to speak French which Haitian authorities of the time preferred to the native language known as Haitian Creole He also learned Latin Greek English Spanish and Italian When Aristide was fourteen years old he began preparation for the priesthood at the Notre Dame seminary ...

Article

Born in the Las Villas province of Cuba, Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros became a master of the island's distinctive, horn-led musical musical styles. As a horn-player, composer, and arranger, he contributed to the development of modern Afro-Latin popular music.

Armenteros is a virtuoso player of the trumpet and the flügelhorn. He is also the last surviving master of Cuban septeto music, which is performed by a small ensemble featuring a trumpet backed by stringed instruments and percussion. He has played in many Latin American musical genres, including Afro-Latin Jazz big bands, small-group Cuban Descargas (jam sessions), and Salsa Music. On the 1979 album Knockdown Calypsoes. Armenteros convincingly re-created the sound of the Calypso bands of Trinidad in the 1930s and 1940s. Armenteros's trumpet-playing is instantly recognizable. Rather than seeking harmonic complexity or intricate rapid-fire melodies, typical of jazz trumpet playing since the Bebop era he projects a ...

Article

Marcelino Arozarena is considered one of the founders of poesía negra, or black poetry, in the Caribbean. Born in Havana, Cuba, he published his first poems in the 1920s in the Havana literary journal La Palabra, directed by Communist leader Juan Marinello. Arozarena's famous poem, “Caridá,” asks why Caridad, a mulatto woman (of both African and European descent), has not shown up at a dance. The poet draws on the techniques of negrista or “blackist” poets, such as mimicking musical rhythms, using jitanjáfora (words whose sounds echo their meanings), and folkloric images of Afro-Cuban music and dance.

Arozarena was part of the first wave of negrista poets, which also included his fellow Cubans Ramón Güirao, Alejo Carpentier, and Regino Pedroso; Puerto Rican poet Palés Matos; and Mexican poet José Zacarías Tallet Together with these authors Arozarena helped spark a literary movement ...

Article

Francisco Ortega

Jorge Artel, whose real name was Agapito de Arcos, was born in Colombia, in the colonial city of Cartagena de Indias, once the major entryway for slaves into the Spanish colonies in South America. He grew up surrounded by the drumbeats of the cumbia music, slavery's violent legacies, and the history of resistance embodied in the many maroon communities that dotted the city's borders. In his poetry he evokes those images, especially, as Lawrence Prescott has noted, using the symbol of the drum as the unifying thread essential to the black experience in the Americas. Like other black poets in Spanish America, such as the Afro-Peruvian Nicomedes Santa Cruz (1925–1992) and the Cuban Nicolás Guillén (1902–1989 Artel does not single out race alone as the defining element that has shaped his life and his aesthetic vision For him as for the others class ...

Article

Born in Saint Andrew, Jamaica, Maurice Ashley immigrated with his family to Brooklyn, New York, at the age of twelve. When he was fourteen years old, he fell in love with the game of chess after a classmate soundly defeated him. Intent on avenging the loss, Ashley read a book about the first great chess player in the United States, the nineteenth-century Louisianan Paul Morphy. Until then Ashley was only casually interested in the game, but he soon became drawn to its complexity and dazzling plays.

Ashley s ascent to the upper echelon of chess was long and gradual His start at age fourteen was relatively late by chess standards Some children begin playing as young as four years old and some of the best players earn the title of international grandmaster by age fourteen Although he failed to make the first team on his chess club at ...

Article

Born Raymond Quevedo, Atilla de Hun recorded with American record companies beginning in 1934, when he and Roaring Lion (Hubert Raphael Charles, later Raphael de Leon were the first Trinidadian calypsonians to record in New York City During his career he also recorded with the ...

Article

See also Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Music.

Article

Liliana Obregón

Albuino Azaredo was elected governor of Brazil's state of Espírito Santo (1991–1995). An Afro-Brazilian engineer and successful businessman, Albuino, along with Alceu Collares of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, became one of the first black governors to be elected in Brazil.

Azeredo ran for governor of Espírito Santo as a member of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT). Election patterns have not indicated that voters in Brazil vote along racial lines, but the PDT has an active and militant tradition of speaking about racial issues as part of its political platform. In 1982, for example, its electoral campaign emphasized its commitment to the black population. In addition, influential black leaders have been prominent members of the PDT, including famous black activist Abdias do Nasciamento.

Espírito Santo's Afro-Brazilian population makes up around half of the state's voters. Azeredo did not base his 1991 campaign ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

As a performer, composer, and scholar of ethnic music, Susana Baca has become a leading expert on Afro-Peruvian musical traditions. Since the 1960s she has explored the distinctive rhythms, tempos, and instruments of the small but influential Afro-Peruvian community that has lived in relative isolation for nearly 500 years along the Pacific Ocean coast of Peru. Her research led to the path-breaking 1995 album The Soul of Black Peru, which presented Afro-Peruvian music to an international audience for the first time.

Baca leads a generation of musicians who interpret the Afro-Peruvian traditions first explored in the 1950s by the renowned ethnomusicologist Nicomedes Santa Cruz. Her performances use Afro-Peruvian rhythms that date back to the seventeenth century, as well as native instruments such as the Andean panpipes and the cajon a wooden box which when rhythmically struck with the hand produces a variety of unusual timbres Baca ...

Article

Joaquín Balaguer was born in Villa Bisono in the Dominican Republic, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. After studying law in the capital city of Santo Domingo, he earned a doctorate at the University of Paris. In 1930 he became involved in a conspiracy that resulted in Rafael Leónidas Trujillo seizing the presidency. During Trujillo's long and dictatorial regime, Balaguer served in various ambassadorial posts abroad and also served as the Dominican Republic's minister of education and vice president. After Trujillo's oppressive rule officially ended, the country was led by a series of puppet leaders, with Trujillo pulling their strings. Balaguer began his presidency in 1960 as one such puppet. Trujillo, however, was assassinated in 1961. Balaguer remained president but faced massive popular protests for a return to democratic rule. In 1962 a general strike forced Balaguer from power He spent the next three years ...

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Miguel Barnet is the author of Biografía de un cimarrón (Autobiography of a Runaway Slave, 1966), which recounts Esteban Motejo's life as a runaway slave in Cuba and as a soldier in the Spanish-American War (1895–1898). Other works by Barnet include Canción de Raquel Rachel ...

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Born in New York of Puerto Rican heritage, Barreto joined Tito Puente's big band in the 1950s. In the 1960s, he established the Ray Barreto Orchestra, which recorded under the Fania label. In 1992 he established the Jazz band, New World Spirit.

See also Salsa Music.