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Afro-Colombians (Colombians of African descent) were invisible in the 1886 constitution that ruled Colombia for over 100 years. By 1990, after centuries of marginalization and discrimination, Afro-Colombian organizations emerged as a political force. They denounced implicit racial discrimination and demanded that the constitutional reform take ethnic identity into account without restricting their rights to equality. The black movement received support from representatives of indigenous groups and of the progressive left. Both groups had representatives in the Constitutional Assembly, formed in 1990 to rewrite the constitution.

Article

George Reid Andrews

Afro-Latin Americans helped forge a history of nation- and state-building, democratization, and social and political reform that transformed the life of the region. As we look ahead, what new challenges are likely to confront Afro-Latin Americans?

Article

A 1996 book by the National Research Council, Lost Crops of Africa, draws attention to the potential of the continent's little-known indigenous crops for improving regional and global food supplies. Featured prominently among the 2,000 native grains, roots, and fruits utilized as food staples is African rice (Oryza glaberrima), “the great red rice of the hook of the Niger.” Yet, despite its plant-breeding potential, there are other compelling reasons for a research focus on glaberrima.

This overview of rice history in the Americas raises several issues that bear on prevailing conceptions of the Columbian Exchange the period of unparalleled crop exchanges from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries Scholarship on the Columbian Exchange has long emphasized the economically viable crops of American Asian and European origin the role of Europeans in their global dispersal and thus the diffusion of crops to rather than from Africa The slight attention ...

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

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 ...

Article

The connection between Africa and Brazil dates back to the sixteenth century, when the Portuguese first brought slaves from Africa to work on the great plantations of their new colony. The traffic in slaves lasted until 1888, some sixty-six years after Brazil had won its independence from Portugal, and it involved close to four million persons from various parts of the African continent. The duration of the slave trade, coupled with the constant replenishment of its human stock, has meant that Africa's religious, cultural, and demographic presence in Brazil has been unusually strong. Indeed, Brazil is believed to be home to the world's second largest group of people of African descent, after the Republic of Nigeria.

The religious and cultural traditions brought to Brazil by African slaves met with considerable disapproval among the dominant classes who in their mission to put a civilizing European gloss on the ...

Article

About 900 men from British Honduras (now Belize) were brought to Britain in 1941 and 1942 by the ministries of Supply and Labour to meet the expanding demand for civilian forestry workers. While the recruitment was based on a perceived labour shortage in Britain, it was also thought to help alleviate the growing unemployment, starvation, and suffering in British Honduras. The men were effectively indentured labourers who signed a contract with the British government. Among other conditions, their contracts provided for free transport to and from the forestry camps in Britain, free medical services, and a three‐year term of engagement, after which they would be immediately returned home. The workers who comprised what was known as the British Honduran Forestry Unit were based in three camps in the north and south of Scotland.

While a welfare officer was assigned to look after the men they faced a range of adverse ...

Article

Jonathan Edwards

Despite its severe difficulties in the 1980s, the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) is considered by many observers to be one of the most successful regional economic arrangements outside of the European Union. CARICOM grew out of CARIFTA, the Caribbean Free Trade Association, which was formed in 1968 by the English-speaking Caribbean countries in order to encourage development and economic independence in the region. In 1973 the larger CARIFTA countries—Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Barbados—formed CARICOM. By 1974 the eight other members of CARIFTA had joined: Antigua and Barbuda, British Honduras (now Belize), Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The Bahamas joined CARICOM in 1983, although remaining outside the Common Market, and Suriname joined in 1995. The British Virgin Islands and the Turks and ...

Article

Susanne Freidberg

Until the end of World War II, the term development generally referred to biological growth processes, and its economic significance was only metaphorical. But development acquired a new meaning when President Harry Truman introduced a term that implied the antithesis in his inaugural speech in 1949:

We must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of the underdeveloped areas. More than half of the people of the world are living in conditions approaching poverty. … Their poverty is a handicap and a threat to both them and to more prosperous areas….

Thus development was defined as a need and a goal as soon as certain areas among them the entire African continent were defined as underdeveloped Within several years development became an important field of study in economics sociology and other social sciences ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

In Jamaica, in the years immediately following abolition (1833), colonial officials prevented former slaves from purchasing land by restricting the amount of land available to blacks and by allowing white landowners to charge black tenants exorbitant rents. The plantation economy relied on a continuous supply of black labor, and white landowners, acting in collusion, kept wages low and rents high to prevent blacks from gaining a foothold in the colonial economy.

The concept of the free village emerged in 1835 when a white missionary, Reverend James Phillippo, purchased a large plot of land in the town of Sligoville. Phillippo divided the land into small plots and sold them to black families at affordable prices. Soon, white missionaries and wealthy free blacks were purchasing large plots of land to create similar free villages.

The free village became the embodiment of black empowerment in the decades following emancipation ...

Article

Gauchos  

Gauchos are generally indigenous, black, or of mixed race, including mestizo (of mixed indigenous and European descent). Bold and skillful horseback riders, they traditionally earned their livelihood on cattle ranges or by illegal horse and cattle trading at the Brazilian frontier. They captured wild horses and cattle with the lasso and the bola, a cord-and-weight type of sling thrown to entangle the legs of animals. Making leather brought them additional income. Many of them were also wandering minstrels. Politically, they played a role as revolutionaries in the history of Argentina.

The characteristic apparel of the gaucho includes a flat, brimmed hat; baggy trousers over boots; a wide belt of silver or coins; a woolen poncho; and a colorful scarf. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the modernization of the cattle-raising business, the arrival in South America of European farmers and the portioning of the pampas ...

Article

Most indentured laborers came from India and worked on plantations for the duration of five year contracts in exchange for wages and passage fare Despite some laws designed to protect them the indentured laborers were greatly exploited International humanitarian and labor groups pressured to end the system and Indian laws ...

Article

William Arthur Lewis was the first black person to receive the Nobel Prize in a category other than peace. He once described his intellectual career as consisting of three phases: the history of world economics and development, industrial economics, and the economic problems of underdeveloped nations. In his Nobel lecture, he suggested that the least developed countries should concentrate on increasing their regional trade rather than being heavily dependent on the continued growth of the most developed countries. He believed that in this way, underdeveloped nations could eventually accelerate their own economies even as growth in the more technologically advantaged nations slackened.

Lewis wanted to study engineering but decided it would be pointless since, at that time, neither the government nor white firms would hire a black engineer. A brilliant student, he received a bachelor of commerce degree with honors from Saint Mary's College in Saint Lucia (1929 ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Minas Gerais was a densely forested region sparsely inhabited by Tupi and Guarani Indians before the arrival of Europeans in the seventeenth century. At that time explorers and bandeirantes (slave raiders) moved inland from São Paulo in search of Indian slaves as well as precious stones and metals.

Article

From the earliest days of slavery in the New World, Africans were sent from Europe and, later, directly from Africa to toil in mines. Spanish governor Nicolás Ovando arrived on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (shared today by the Dominican Republic and Haiti) in 1502, accompanied by domestic slaves. Ovando soon requested King Ferdinand of Spain to bolster his labor force with Africans to work in Hispaniola's mines. Lured by the promise of what looked like infinite amounts of Gold, the monarchs of Spain obliged and set in motion the infrastructure of an extractive economy-based empire. For the next two centuries, both Spanish and Portuguese settlers introduced shackled Africans to mine silver in the shafts of Zacatecas and Durango in Mexico; gold and diamonds in the fields of interior Brazil; gold from Honduran hillsides and the river valleys of Colombia and Venezuela and silver ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

a skilled toolmaker and mechanical engineer who spent nearly half a century working in the Soviet Union, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to an Octavia Robinson, from Dominica, and a Jamaican father, who moved the family to Cuba when Robinson was six and a half years old, deserting his wife and son soon after. There is some uncertainty as to his precise date of birth. When he entered Ellis Island in May 1923, he was recorded as twenty‐two years old. When he returned to the United States in 1933 to visit his mother, his date of birth was recorded as 22 June 1900. His autobiography implies a birth date of 1907, while other sources provide dates of 1904 and 1906.

In the 1980s Robinson recalled that racism had little impact as he was growing up in Cuba where he learned English at home Spanish and French ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

As its nickname “The Helen of the West Indies” suggests, Saint Lucia is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Its beauty is in large measure due to the fact that it has more forests and more indigenous flora and fauna than many Caribbean islands. Saint Lucia was first inhabited by the Arawak Indians, who migrated to the island around 200 c.e. The Carib Indians replaced the Arawaks by about six centuries later. The original Native American name for the island was Iouanalao, meaning “the place where the iguana is found.”

Some question exists over when Europeans first sighted Saint Lucia. Tradition holds that Christopher Columbus himself discovered the island on Saint Lucy's feast day, December 13, 1502 What is certain however is that Carib resistance to European settlement on the island was fierce and Saint Lucian Caribs were able to resist European colonization until ...

Article

Berkeley E. Tompkins

The San Francisco Chronicle described William Shorey in 1907 as “the only colored captain on the Pacific Coast.” He was born on the island of Barbados in 1859 and spent his childhood there. His father was a Scottish sugar planter on the Caribbean island, and his mother, Rosa Frazier, was a native Barbadian.

As the oldest of his mother's eight children it was necessary for Shorey to begin working at an early age. Although slavery had been abolished in Barbados several decades earlier, in 1834, opportunities for a young man like Shorey were still quite limited. He was apprenticed in his early teens to a plumber, but he found the drudgery of this job uncongenial. Strongly attracted to the sea, as were many young men raised on the island, Shorey said goodbye to his family in 1875 and shipped on a British vessel bound for Boston Massachusetts ...

Article

The struggle against slavery throughout the Americas involved different forms of rebellion. Many slaves escaped; some merged with the urban free black and colored population, while others became maroons and set up their own communities in the backlands, often in cooperation with indigenous peoples. Slaves who remained within the system worked to undermine it, through sabotage of production. At the same time they found ways of using their owners' dependence on their labor to influence their terms of work. And from time to time these slave workers, sometimes in alliance with freed people, erupted in rebellion in an effort to destroy slavery outright.

Article

Sugar  

Barbara L. Solow

In that place the people sucked little honeyed reeds, found in plenty throughout the plains, which they called ‘zucra’; they enjoyed this reed's wholesome sap, and because of its sweetness once they had tasted it they could scarcely get enough of it. This kind of grass is cultivated every year by extremely hard work on the part of the farmers. Then at harvest time the natives crush the ripe crop in little mortars, putting the filtered sap into their utensils until it curdles and hardens with the appearance of snow or white salt. They shave pieces off and it seems to those who taste it sweeter and more wholesome even than a comb of honey. Some say that it is a sort of that honey which Jonathan, son of King Saul found on the face of the earth and disobediently dared to taste The people who were troubled by ...