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Alexander Bedward was born in Matilda's Corner, Saint Andrew Parish, in southeastern Jamaica. He grew up in August Town, on the Hope River in Saint Andrew. Nothing is known about his father, but his mother was supposedly a healer. Bedward could not write, and he read haltingly because of borderline literacy. Apart from the years 1883 to 1885, when he was a migrant laborer in Colón, a seaport on the Isthmus of Panama, Bedward worked until 1891 on the Mona sugar estate in Saint Andrew. He was a foreman, laborer, and cooper (a repairman of wooden casks or tubs) on the estate, from which he also leased land.

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Bilali  

Allan D. Austin

Muslim leader and plantation manager, was born in Africa, sold into slavery, and transported to the Bahamas and then to Sapelo Island, Georgia. His name is also given as Bilali Mahomet and Bul‐Ali. Almost nothing is known about Bilali's life in Africa, but his fellow Fula or Peul (originally Malian) friend, Salih Bilali, who was enslaved on the neighboring island of Saint Simons, said that Bilali came from the village of Timbo, in Futa Jallon (later Guinea). This was an important Muslim educational and political community and the homeland of another Fula, Ibrahima abd al‐Rahman, who was enslaved in Mississippi. Bilali's strict adherence to Muslim ways and the book he wrote in Arabic show that he paid attention to his teachers in Africa. In the Bahamas Bilali married at least one of his four known wives before being brought to Georgia around 1802 He had a ...

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Alonford James Robinson

Paul Bogle is a beloved figure in Jamaica. Although his legal status at the time of his birth is unclear, most scholars believe that he was born free in Stony Gut, Jamaica, in 1822. He operated a small independent farm there and became a lay preacher in the Native Baptist Church. His affiliation with this antislavery branch of the Baptist Church brought him into contact with British and Jamaican abolitionists, including activist George Gordon. Methodist and Baptist leaders, as well as leaders of other religious denominations, were active participants in the antislavery struggle. As a result, members of local black congregations like Bogle's were often exposed to antislavery debates, pamphlets, and sermons.

When slavery was abolished in 1834 blacks in Jamaica were promised freedom at the end of what turned out to be a four year period known as apprenticeship The apprenticeship policy forced slaves ...

Article

Michelle Gueraldi

Mãe Menininha do Gantois was born in the city of Salvador in Bahia, Brazil to Afro-Brazilian parents of Nigerian descent. Mãe Menininha was one of the most respected Brazilian mães-de-santo or ialorixás (Candomblé priestesses) of her time. She was widely consulted and revered throughout Brazil. Mãe Menininha was the head of the Terreiro do Gantois, a temple founded by her aunt and godmother Pulquéria da Conceição, also an ialorixá. Mãe Pulquéria nicknamed her goddaughter Menininha, which means “little girl” in Portuguese (mãe means mother, and is a title often given to Candomblé priestesses). Mãe Menininha was a devotee, or “daughter,” of Oshún, one of the Orixás (deities) of Candomblé's pantheon.

The temple that Mãe Menininha headed the Terreiro do Gantois is one of the oldest and most respected Candomblé temples in Bahia and is recognized as one of the more orthodox or traditionally African Candomblé ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

George Gordon was born in Jamaica to a black slave and her wealthy white master. His father, Joseph, devoted more time to running his estate and furthering his political career than he did to his colored son. Like most wealthy whites in Jamaica during the 1820s, Joseph Gordon was both a member of Jamaica's exclusive House of Assembly and a custos in Saint Andrew's Parish—the highest administrative official in the local province.

As the illegitimate son of the slave master, George Gordon learned the importance of self-reliance at an early age, even teaching himself how to read and write. Much to his father's surprise, he showed signs of proficiency in accounting at an early age. By age ten he was a skilled bookkeeper, and around this time Joseph Gordon decided to free his son, sending him to live with his godfather, businessman James Daley, in Black River, Jamaica.

With ...

Article

Jean Baptiste Labat is known for his work Nouveau voyage aux iles d'Amerique (New Voyage to the Islands of the Americas; 1722), which described the operation of plantations and the system of slavery in the French colony of Guadeloupe While critical of some aspects of slavery the work ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

clergyman and diplomat, was born in Belize, British Honduras, a son of Emmanuel and Ann F. (Bending) Lyon, both of Jamaican descent. He moved with his parents in the 1870s to the United States, where he was educated privately in New Orleans, Louisiana, then at the Gilbert Industrial School in La Teche, Louisiana.

Lyon attended Straight University (now Dillard University) and New Orleans University, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1888, and later a master's degree. He later took courses at Union Theological Seminary of New York, and in the 1890s, received a doctorate in Divinity from Wiley University (now Wiley College) in Marshall, Texas. While still an undergraduate, he was ordained as a Methodist Episcopal minister, serving a series of Louisiana pastorates: La Teche in 1883, followed by three New Orleans churches (Mallalieu, Thompson, and Simpson). In 1894 he was appointed conference Sunday ...

Article

Paulette Poujol-Oriol

Though little is known about Makandal's early life and much of the information about him is shrouded in myth, this famous maroon has become a legendary figure. Most prominent historians do not mention him, but he has become a symbol of Haitian national identity, and all schoolchildren in Haiti learn about his life.

Makandal is said to have come to the French-ruled colony of Saint Domingue (now Haiti) around 1750. Slave traders had bought him on the coast of Guinea, in Africa, and he was taken to the colony, where he worked as a field hand.

According to accounts of his life, Makandal did not submit to slavery for very long. He soon escaped to the woods, becoming a maroon a fugitive slave Prizes were offered for his capture but he escaped all ambushes It is also said that Makandal was a learned man that he ...

Article

Mayda Grano de Oro

Liborio Mateo established a religious community in San Juan de la Maguna, in the southern Dominican Republic, shortly after a storm devastated the area in 1908. He and many of his followers were Afro-Dominicans. While not directly confronting authorities with protest or destruction of property, they established a community that functioned autonomously, both politically and economically. Beginning in 1910, when Mateo was ordered arrested (but managed to escape), authorities—urged by the Roman Catholic Church—stepped up efforts to crack down on the movement. Official hostility was motivated in large part by distrust of the group's political and cultural separateness and rumors of alleged immoral activities connected to its religious practices. It was only when confronted with this government repression that the group became armed in self-defense. With the fall of President Ramón Cáceres (1906–1911 the community s relations with the government improved In fact the government ...

Article

Eric Young

The son of a former slave, Joseph Merrick first sailed to Africa in 1843, landing on the island of Fernando Pó in what is now Equatorial Guinea and later making his way to the mainland and the area that is now Cameroon. There he established the Baptist Cameroons Mission, associated with the Baptist Missionary Society of London, in Douala and Bimbia. For the next five years he was active as a minister and as a translator, teacher, craftsman, and explorer. Merrick set up a printing press at Bimbia and translated the Bible into Isubu, the local language, and wrote a primary-school textbook. In addition, he built a brick-making machine for the mission. Merrick explored the region extensively; he was the first non-African to visit the Bakoko people and one of the first to climb Cameroon Mountain. Dr. Alfred Saker an English Baptist minister presided over the ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, was born Charles Wesley Mossell in Baltimore, Maryland, the eldest son of Aaron Mossell and Eliza Bowers Mossell, free African American residents of that city. Aaron Mossell was a skilled brickmaker. Charles moved with his parents and oldest sister Mary to Canada in 1853, where he and Mary completed the lower grades of public school. Aaron Mossell established his own business in Hamilton, Ontario, where the family's most famous son, Nathan Francis Mossell, was born, as well as the youngest son, Aaron Jr. and younger daughter Alveretta. By 1865 the family had moved to Lockport, New York, where by 1870 Aaron Mossell owned $2,000 in real estate, including his brick-making business and the family home, and $300 in personal property.

Mossell graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1871 The same year he assisted his younger siblings ...

Article

Nanny  

Nanny was said to have used supernatural powers in battles against the British. She was killed by a slave named Cuffe in 1733.

See also Jamaica; Maroonage in the Americas; Nanny Town.

Article

David Michel

minister and social activist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and during his childhood lived in Chicago, Illinois, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His Pentecostal mother was a nurse and his Muslim father a painter. Rivers's parents separated when he was three, and he was reared by his mother. While living in Philadelphia during his teenage years, Rivers joined a gang whose leaders constantly harassed him. In 1963 he responded to a message delivered by the Reverend Billy Graham through the Hour of Decision radio program. Consequently Rivers joined Deliverance Evangelistic Church, pastored by the Reverend Benjamin Smith. Smith helped Rivers get out of gang life and counseled him in many ways.

In 1968 Rivers won a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts College studies opened a new world for Rivers who had by then become estranged from Smith The young Rivers had observed the activism of the ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Korean and VietnamWar army officer and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Claremont, West Virginia, the son of West Virginia natives Clyde Rogers Sr. and his wife Helen. While Charles Rogers's father supported his family by working as a coal miner, his son would have the opportunity to rise further. After graduating from high school, Rogers attended West Virginia State College, earning a B.A. in Mathematics. Interestingly, this hard working and practical young man also had a spiritual side and, despite his studies, had a desire to be a minister. However, his ministering career was soon put on hold and would not become a reality until years later after his retirement from the army.

While attending college Charles Rogers was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps ROTC and upon graduating he subsequently gained an officer s commission when he joined the army at Institute West ...

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Article

Samuel Sharpe was born a slave in Jamaica, probably in the northwestern parish of Saint James. Sharpe worked as a domestic slave in Montego Bay, the island's second largest town after Kingston. Literate and intelligent, he was also a passionate and charismatic speaker. He gained prominence working in the Montego Bay Baptist Church, run by British missionaries, where his duties included helping missionary Thomas Burchell with the supervision of membership classes. At the same time, Sharpe preached at the independent black-led Native Baptist Church, where he gained the titles “Daddy” or “Ruler.” The Native Baptist movement was established in the late 1700s by blacks who came to Jamaica from the United States.

Sharpe drew upon the Bible to argue that slavery was morally wrong He also helped spread the widely held view among slaves who overheard planters frequent complaints about the abolitionist movement in Britain that the British Parliament ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

a Baptist minister whose life took him from the United States to Britain, then back across the Atlantic with a mission to report on the rising tide of racially motivated lynching, was born in Hampton, Virginia, where by the laws of the state at that time, he inherited the enslaved status of his parents. His father was sold before he was born, and his mother taken away when he was four years old.

Freed and without parents at the close of the Civil War, he found shelter at the age of five at a Home for Black Orphan Children initiated by General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, who in 1868 also founded Hampton Institute. The young orphan then went to live with the family of Perry L. Stanford in Boston. At the age of twelve, he left the Stanfords, for what he later described as “some trivial matter,” although Reverend Paul ...

Article

Nicola Cooney

Solano Trindade was born in 1908 in Recife, a town in northeastern Brazil, the son of a mulatto cobbler and a mestizo (of indigenous and European descent) woman. His interest in folklore and popular arts was instilled at an early age, as he would routinely accompany his father to local folk dances and read aloud to his illiterate mother.

After some advanced schooling, Trindade became a Presbyterian deacon and began to write poetry. His early works were mystical writings, and his black poetry would evolve soon thereafter. In 1936 Trindade published his first book, Poemas Negros, and founded the Frente Negra Pernambucana (Black Front of Pernambuco) and the Centro Cultural Afro-Brasileiro (Afro-Brazilian Cultural Center). These groups united a group of contemporary black writers with a view to collecting and disseminating the work of fellow Afro-Brazilian poets and painters. In 1959 Trindade founded the Teatro Popular Brasileiro Brazilian ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

clergyman, legislator, and diplomat, was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the oldest surviving child of Mathias and Diana (Oakham) Van Horne. He was educated in the Princeton schools, before enrolling in 1859 at Pennsylvania's Ashmun Collegiate Institute for Colored Youth (renamed Lincoln University in 1866), studying theology, education, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. In 1868 he became one of the first six students to receive a bachelor's degree from Lincoln University, where he also pursued graduate studies beginning in 1871.

While still a student, Van Horne was married in 1862 to Rachel Ann Huston of Princeton, New Jersey. The couple had four children: daughters Florence V. (Miller) and Louisa S. A., and sons Mahlon H. and Mathias Alonzo Van Horne(Mathias was educated at Howard University and later became Rhode Island's first African American dentist). After being ordained as a minister in 1866 ...

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Leyla Keough

Despite his lack of formal education, Robert Wedderburn possessed a flair for inciting political action with fiery speeches and eccentric burlesque. He is best known as a follower of the underground millenarian and land-reform advocate Thomas Spence. In Spencean radicalism, Wedderburn found a way to express the disaffection he had experienced throughout his life.

Wedderburn was born in Kingston, Jamaica. His father, a plantation owner, sold his mother while she was still pregnant because of her “troublemaking,” and he later rejected Robert's pleas for financial assistance. Wedderburn was reared by his maternal grandmother, “Talkee Amy.” A noted preacher, she instilled in Wedderburn a predilection for proselytizing. He joined the navy at seventeen and arrived in England in 1778 Like many black sailors he was refused his wages by the British government Although he found work as a tailor his trade skills were devalued by mechanization ...