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Article

Tiffany M. Gill

Black is beautiful This familiar cry of the Black Power movement was revolutionary in its celebration of the culture style politics and physical attributes of peoples of African descent Symbols of the black is beautiful aesthetic most notably the Afro not only conjured up ideas about black beauty but also highlighted its contentious relationship with black politics and identity This tension between beauty standards and black politics and identity however did not first emerge in the late twentieth century with the Afro or the Black Power movement In fact blacks particularly black women have been struggling to navigate the paradoxical political nature of black identity and beauty since their enslavement in the Americas Despite this strained relationship black women have actively sought to define beauty in their lives and in the process created and sustained one of the most resilient and successful black controlled enterprises in America the black beauty ...

Article

Edward J. Rielly

In modern times, Black English vernacular is alternately referred to as African American vernacular English, Black English, inner-city English, Ebonics, or African American English, although the last term is sometimes used to indicate a broader category comprising closely related dialects. The precise origins of Black English vernacular remain unsettled and controversial.

The theory regarding the beginnings of Black English vernacular that dominated the first half of the twentieth century is sometimes referred to as the Anglicist hypothesis, so named because it identifies the origins of Black English with the origins of other American English dialects, namely British English. According to this theory, from the early seventeenth century on, slaves (the first of whom, technically indentured servants, were brought to Jamestown in 1619 arrived in the southern United States speaking a variety of West African languages including Hausa Ibo and Yoruba Slaves learned English though imperfectly from plantation overseers and ...

Article

Peter Gammond

A 19th-century African-American dance. It originated among plantation slaves (c.1850 reputedly to parody the promenades that opened the plantation owners formal balls In the 1890s it became commercial entertainment and it was used for social dancing at the turn of the 20th century The music is a ...

Article

The Caribbean region is more often stereotyped and dismissed in Britain than taken seriously as a location for art production, and has only ever reached small audiences, despite some significant exhibitions and critical attention.

1.Images and objects collected from the Caribbean during the colonial period

2.Migration of artists during the 20th century

3.Art reception in the 1960s and 1970s

4.Exhibitions of the 1980s and 1990s

5.Curatorial selection and its consequences

There is little consensus on what defines a coherent category of Caribbean art in terms of its geographical boundaries and cultural character and given its growing diaspora The region s Anglophone countries have contributed the most to art exhibitions staged in the United Kingdom the consequence of a shared colonial history and of migration Throughout the post Second World War period many artists from the Caribbean engaged in struggles for acceptance within the history of ...

Article

Alice Ross and Mark H. Zanger

The Caribbean influence on American food has been continual for hundreds of years, initially in coastal areas of similar climate, from Texas to the Carolinas. The early Spanish involvement in the Caribbean brought Caribbean foods to Europe and Africa, from whence they quickly returned to North America. Spanish gold shipments attracted other Europeans to the area and brought about the colonization of eastern North America. Cheap Caribbean sugar, coffee, cocoa, and spices have influenced the palates and tables of all Americans. The peoples of the Caribbean islands have developed multicultural cuisines that have been affecting American cooking at all levels since colonial times.

Influence of the Caribbean on contemporary American food may predate Columbus, because there is some possibility that Caribbean Indians reached Florida and introduced tropical tubers, or chilies. The chain of influence began in 1492 as the varieties of maize beans chilies squash peanuts and cassava collected ...

Article

Despite the enormous worldwide impact of American popular music, and particularly of African-American music, it remains difficult to fix a point of origin for musical genres like hip-hop, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, ragtime, and their blurry nineteenth-century antecedents. But it is not too great a leap of the imagination to assume from these genres, each a variant of its predecessor, that powerful forms of African-American music were performed in the long prehistory before it was possible to record music. What that music sounded like, alas, is nearly impossible to divine, although we can hear fragments of it in the bewildered accounts of European and American travelers, thunderstruck by the fugitive music they occasionally stumbled across in their wanderings.

Perhaps out of frustration with our lack of real knowledge musical historians have often pointed toward a specific place in nineteenth century America that seems to have acted as ...

Article

Dance  

Robert H. Gudmestad and Kathleen Thompson

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with dance from the early eighteenth century through the end of the nineteenth century The first article discusses the transmission of African dance traditions to North America by slaves and the new expressions that arose while the second article discusses the movement of ...

Article

Charles W. Jr. Carey

author, was born in Dayton, Ohio, the son of Joshua Dunbar, a plasterer, and Matilda Burton Murphy, a laundry worker. His literary career began at age twelve, when he wrote an Easter poem and recited it in church. He served as editor in chief of his high school's student newspaper and presided over its debating society. While still in school, he contributed poems and sketches to the Dayton Herald and the West Side News, a local paper published by Orville Wright of Kitty Hawk fame, and briefly edited the Tattler, a newspaper for blacks that Wright published and printed. He graduated from high school in 1891 with the hope of becoming a lawyer, but, lacking the funds to pursue a college education, he went instead to work as an elevator operator.

Dunbar wrote and submitted poetry and short stories in his spare time His first ...

Article

David N. Gellman

Throughout English colonial North America, African American slaves participated in rituals and celebrations that stitched together black communities while preserving a folk life rooted in African traditions. Eighteenth-century festivals often coincided with, and at least superficially mirrored, events staged by European colonists. Blacks sometimes invested their own cultural traditions so thoroughly into white holidays that festivals became known as distinct African American events.

African American festivals are much easier to document and describe in the North where the smaller slave population was dispersed among the European population than in the South where larger numbers of slaves were concentrated on plantations This disparity may reflect both the need and the ability of southern slaves to conceal their collective activities from masters Despite the severe constraints that typified slavery everywhere slaves up and down the coast of the North American mainland managed to find means to express their collective identity in joyous ...

Article

Hilary Mac Austin

African American folklore is particularly rich in verbal art, as reflected in its folktales, legends, myths, jokes, and verbal contests. Unfortunately it is impossible to know precisely which tales and jokes were told by the earliest Africans in North America or how these tales and jokes changed through the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. White travelers are the earliest sources on the folklife of enslaved Africans, but in the United States these sources contain little actual lore. Far more common are references to the acuity of slave wit, or general descriptions of an only partially comprehended slave festival. In the nineteenth century, slave narratives and autobiographies contained important references, and in some cases specific tales. However, the formal collection of African American folktales did not truly begin until after Emancipation, most notably in the late-nineteenth-century Uncle Remus series by Joel Chandler Harris. Indeed, most of the stories in Roger ...

Article

Gullahs  

Caryn E. Neumann

The Gullahs were African Americans who settled in slave communities along the Atlantic coastal plain and on the chain of Sea Islands; in Georgia these people were known as Geechees. Geographical isolation and strong community life permitted the Gullahs to preserve their African cultural heritage through their skills, language, arts, gestures, and foods.

The homeland of the Gullahs is a coastal strip about 250 miles long and 40 miles wide running through South Carolina and Georgia Low flat islands along the coast are separated from the mainland by saltwater streams This geographic isolation was combined with a steady influx of Africans and a relatively small population of whites to create a culture that was heavily African Even after the official ban on the importation of slaves blacks continued to be smuggled into the coastal areas thereby providing fresh reinforcements of African culture and customs With a higher ratio of Africans ...

Article

Charlene T. Evans

fiction writer, journalist, and humorist. Born in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, Joel Chandler Harris was the son of Mary Ann Harris, a thirty-one-year-old white single mother, and an Irish day laborer. His father and mother separated before his birth, and his mother worked as a seamstress to support them. With financial assistance from Andrew Reid, Harris attended Union Academy, and at the age of thirteen he left home to work as a newspaper apprentice.

From 1862 to 1866 Harris worked for Joseph Addison Turner, a plantation owner and editor of the Countryman a pro Confederate subscription newspaper popular throughout the South during the Civil War the newspaper was published on Turner s Georgia plantation Turnwold Harris learned typesetting writing and editing and made frequent visits to the slave quarters He listened to Uncle George Terrell Old Harbert Aunt Crissy and other slaves who ...

Article

Susan J. Covert and David McBride

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the health and medical treatment of African Americans from the slavery era through the nineteenth century The first article focuses on the diseases and epidemics that affected Colonial America while the second article discusses progress in African American healthcare despite discrimination in ...

Article

Hussein Ahmed

Ethiopian clairvoyant, was a native of Werre Himeno in west-central Wello, north Ethiopia. Shaykh Husayn was a clairvoyant of wide reputation who is said to have prophesied the occurrence of a number of events in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Not much is known about his early life and upbringing except that he received a limited amount of traditional Islamic education in various localities under several teachers. One can assume that he was informally introduced to the world of mysticism and other esoteric sciences that stimulated and inspired his later inclinations toward meditation and spiritual retreats. According to the brief biographical account compiled by Boggala, Shaykh Husayn’s father, Jibril, served as a murid novice of the celebrated scholar saint al Hajj Bushra Ay Muhammad d 1863 of Geta Qallu in eastern Wello for thirty years After receiving the blessings of al Hajj Bushra for his loyal services he moved ...

Article

Joe  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

survivor of the battle of the Alamo, was a slave about whom little is known. He was living with his master in Harrisburg, Texas, in May 1833 and was sometimes rented out as a laborer. One man that rented him was a young lawyer named William Barret Travis. Having arrived in Texas in 1831, Travis was undoubtedly in need of hired help while establishing his law practice. He purchased Joe on 13 February 1834, while living in San Felipe. The time that Joe was owned by Travis, though short, came during the most legendary time in Texas history.

Joe's specific activities from 1834 to 1836 are unknown that Joe would remain a slave he likely knew well as his master was occupied during his first years in Texas working to gain the return of runaway slaves harbored at the Mexican garrison at Anahuac However Joe s ...

Article

John Garst

an African American criminal whose fame lives in the ballad John Hardy, was hanged on the order of Judge T. L. Henritze in Welch, West Virginia, for the murder in January 1893 of Thomas Drews, also African American, at a camp of the Shawnee Coal Company near Eckman, McDowell County. He was convicted in Welch on 12 October 1893.

According to a 1925 statement by 67-year-old Lee Holley, a lifelong resident of Tazewell, Virginia, who claimed to have known Hardy well, he “was 27 or 8 when he was hung” (Chappell, 25). He may have been the John Hardy who was born in Virginia, was thirteen years old in 1880, and lived then in Glade Springs, Washington County, Virginia, with his parents, Miles and Malinda Hardy (U.S. Census, 1880 According to Holley he was one of a gang of gamblers about a half dozen ...

Article

John Garst

“steel-driving man” and legendary hero, may have been a historic person born a slave in Mississippi, Virginia, or some other Southern state. In ballad and legend he is simply “John Henry,” but “John Henry” is a common combination of given names, so Henry may not have been his surname.

Songs about John Henry were collected as early as 1905. In 1916 the former West Virginia governor W.-A. MacCorkle confused him with John Hardy, an African American gambler and murderer who was hanged in Welch, West Virginia, in 1894 and is the subject of his own ballad. By the mid-1920s the ballad “John Henry” was being recorded commercially by Riley Puckett (1924), Fiddlin' John Carson (1924), and other white “hillbilly” performers, and shortly thereafter recordings by such African American bluesmen as Henry Thomas (1927) and Mississippi John Hurt (1928 began ...

Article

Peter Hinks

Beginning in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, Jon Kannoe was a raucous ritual of inversion celebrated by slaves at Christmastime in the eastern towns of coastal North Carolina, especially Wilmington and Edenton. The exact provenance of the practice is uncertain, but various commentators link it with ceremonies from West African regions and the English practice of lavishly costumed men performing in mummery at Christmastime.

The first probable recorded descriptions of Jon Kannoe or Jonkonnu (there are a variety of spellings of the term) are from Jamaica in the late seventeenth century, with the first certain account coming from Edward Long in his 1774History of Jamaica The ritual thrived in the British West Indies especially Jamaica Nassau and the Bahamas and somehow the exact route is uncertain traveled to coastal North Carolina most likely by way of slaves moving from the British West Indies to eastern North ...

Article

Graeme Boone and James Sellman

The roots of the jook joint—a distinctly African American place for music, dancing, and socializing—reach back well before the Civil War (1861–1865) to the era of slavery. For slaves, free time and free space were transitory, rare, and surrounded in secrecy. In his autobiography, Tom Fletcher, an entertainer born in the late nineteenth century, recalled stories of such gatherings that he had heard when he was a boy: “[T]he slaves couldn't just come right out and say they were going to have a party or even a religious gathering. … [They] would use some kind of a signal … and one of the main code songs was the spiritual ‘Steal Away’. … The steal away gatherings sometimes were religious services. … Other times they were … good time parties.”

In such an environment to steal away and dance make music or pray together meant more than ...

Article

Michael Adams and Delano Greenidge-Copprue

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with language and African Americans The first article looks at the origins of African American English and considers the influences on and development of language among blacks The second article looks at Frederick Douglass s use of language as an example in discussing ...