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Article

L. Diane Barnes

Founded in December 1816, the American Colonization Society (ACS) was the first national organization to take on the problem of slavery in the United States. The ACS proposed an expatriation scheme to rid the nation of slavery and of free African Americans. The prominent founders Charles Fenton Mercer, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and others secured federal funding and in 1822 founded the colony of Liberia on Africa's west coast as the destination for America's blacks.

Even before the founding of the ACS, the colonization of African Americans was an issue that divided both whites and blacks. Some African Americans supported colonization, arguing that free blacks would never be fully included in the white-dominated society of the United States. Others argued just as forcibly that blacks were entitled to full rights as American citizens and should remain to fight on behalf of their race.

The ACS drew ...

Article

Margaret Wade-Lewis

linguist educator early computer language translator Africanist scholar of Arabic and Berber was born in Wildwood New Jersey to Joseph Henry Applegate and Nancy Berkley Applegate His father was a second generation New Jersey resident whose father was a Native American from Maine Applegate s mother whose father was also Native American migrated from Virginia to Philadelphia where Applegate s parents met around the time of World War I Neither parent had more than an elementary school education Hardworking and ambitious they held high aspirations for their children Applegate and his sister enjoyed the advantages of a small town working class upbringing along with direct contact with black artists and entertainers who frequented the seaside summer boarding house their parents operated in Wildwood New Jersey Although the family was not affluent Applegate s environment was sophisticated and urbane He recalled awakening to the sounds of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington ...

Article

Karen Backstein

dancer, choreographer, and educator, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to a theatrical and musical family. One of New York's most superb and demanding jazz teachers, as well as an excellent choreographer, Benjamin began his career at the age of four, studying with Elma Lewis at her well-respected School of Fine Arts. Two years later, he started studying ballet, a requirement for all of Lewis's students, no matter which style they chose to focus on. When peer pressure led Benjamin to stop dancing briefly—a not uncommon situation for young male dancers—he shifted to acting, taking classes at Boston Children's Theatre. Two years later he returned to Lewis's school and found something new: George Howard, a teacher of Haitian dance. Still a child, Benjamin knew instantly that “that's the thing I wanted to do, with the drums and everything. It was so exciting to me” (Hall, 3).

Lewis ...

Article

Jeffrey O. Ogbar and Jeffrey O. G.

Black nationalism is the belief system that endorses the creation of a black nation state It also supports the establishment of black controlled institutions to meet the political social educational economic and spiritual needs of black people independent of nonblacks Celebration of African ancestry and territorial separatism are essential components of black nationalism Though not fully developed into a cogent system of beliefs the impulse of black nationalism finds its earliest expression in the resistance of enslaved Africans to the Atlantic slave trade from the sixteenth century Various groups of Africans who felt no particular organic connection as black people were forced into a new racialized identity in a brutal and dehumanizing process of enslavement The transportation and forced amalgamation of hundreds of different African nationalities resulted in Creolized communities in the Americas enslaved Africans revolted and established new societies which functioned autonomously on the outskirts of colonial towns and ...

Article

Pamela C. Edwards

inventor, lived in New Haven, Connecticut, in the early 1890s. Little is known of her early life; it is not known who her parents were or where she was born. She was, however, one of the first African American women to receive a patent from the United States Patent Office in the nineteenth century. On 26 April 1892 Sarah Boone received her patent for an improved ironing board. As a result, Boone became the fourth African American woman to apply for and receive a patent for a new invention and the first person to receive a patent for an ironing board design.

Those who have written about Boone and her improved ironing board note that her invention was a significant improvement over existing devices According to James Brodie before Boone s ironing board this task normally required taking a plank and placing it between two chairs or simply using the ...

Article

Shirley A. Jackson

Expatriates are those individuals who leave the United States to live in other parts of the world. Many African American émigrés believed that in other countries they could experience a life free from the oppression they faced in the United States, a country that talked about democracy and freedom but was unable to provide it to all citizens equally. For others the desire to flee was accompanied by a fear of political persecution. For these expatriates, leaving the United States meant freedom of person and beliefs. In essence, dissatisfaction with social and political conditions was the impetus for many African American émigrés.

In his 1852 book The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States Politically Considered, Martin Robinson Delany explored the suitability of Canada Africa Central and South America and the West Indies for African Americans He noted that while other groups ...

Article

Joseph E. Harris

historian of Africa, was born in Gloster, Mississippi, the son of Harriet Pauline Bailey and Eldon Hayes Hansberry, a professor at Alcorn A&M College in Mississippi. His father's personal library inspired him to pursue history as a career. According to Hansberry, by the time he entered Atlanta University in 1914 he had become “something of an authority on the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome.”

A second major influence on Hansberry was W.-E.-B. Du Bois's book, The Negro, published in 1916. For the first time, Hansberry learned about the societies and achievements of Africans in ancient and medieval times. Unable to pursue the subject in depth at Atlanta University, he transferred to Harvard University, where he studied anthropology and archaeology and received a BA in 1921 and an MA in 1932 Although Harvard did not offer courses on Africa it ...

Article

David Michel

Islamic leader, was born Benjamin Goodman, the only child of Mary Goodman, a hairdresser, and an unknown father in Suffolk, Virginia. Goodman was given his mother's last name because his parents were not married. The family was poor and both he and his mother lived in his grandmother's house. He went to the Easter Graded School in black Saratoga and in 1947 moved to New York for a year. Finding rural Virginia dull, Goodman joined the U.S. Air Force at the age of seventeen and was immediately sent to Flackman Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, for training, after which he was transferred to Japan in 1950 He worked as a radar operator in both Japan and Korea where he experienced discrimination from white American officers Though acknowledged as the best radar operator for his work in Japan and on the war front in Korea ...

Article

Paul Devlin

professional musician and soldier in the French and Indian War and War of Independence, was the freeborn progenitor of a large Groton, Massachusetts, family. The family later spent time in Dracut and Pepperell, where they owned land. His father, Primus Lew, was a skilled artisan (a cooper, or barrel maker) and it is unclear if he was ever a slave and later freed, or was himself freeborn. The historian Benjamin Quarles claimed that Barzillai Lew was also a cooper, and it has been claimed that Primus was also a musician. His mother was named Margret; nothing else about her is known. Father and son both served in the French and Indian War, with Barzillai (also known as “Zeal”) serving for thirty-eight weeks in 1760 under the command of Thomas Farrington. In 1768 he married Dinah Bowman whose freedom he bought for $400 They later had at ...

Article

Liberia  

Jennifer R. Lyons

Located in West Africa on the Atlantic Ocean, the country of Liberia shares a northern border with Guinea, an eastern border with the Ivory Coast, and a northwestern border with Sierra Leone. Its capital city Monrovia is named after the U.S. president James Monroe, during whose presidency the first African Americans departed to resettle this piece of Africa.

Article

Liberia  

Debra Newman Ham

During the colonial and early national periods, some American statesmen and citizens were uncomfortable with—if not openly opposed to—the African slave trade and concerned about the growing enslaved population and the smaller but increasing number of free people of color throughout the country. Some leaders began formulating plans for the relocation of free blacks.

The Revolutionary War led to the expansion of the freed population Many male slaves gained freedom through serving in the Continental or the British armed forces and many enslaved men women and children escaped to freedom behind British lines In the aftermath of the war most of the northern states passed gradual abolition laws further increasing the free black population Other slaves were freed by will deed self purchase or manumission Because the free black population often harbored runaways competed with white laborers lobbied for citizenship rights and sowed discontent or rebellion among the enslaved most ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

American foreign service officer who served as ambassador to Malaysia, Togo, and Mauritius, was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, the son of Wilbur and Ethel Roberts Palmer. His father was an equipment operator on a road construction crew. In later years Palmer seldom mentioned his father, while giving great credit to his grandparents and great-grandparents for his upbringing, particularly his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Fortune Palmer Jackson.

In 1998 he recalled I came from western Pennsylvania where I had had to fight almost every day of my life as a boy until I got so big that folks left me alone Palmer p 250 He described Jackson as of 18th century tri racial pioneer descent and said that she had a homestead in Fayette County Pennsylvania His maternal grandfather Jim Roberts was a coal miner and his maternal grandmother Sallie Dangerfield Roberts was the daughter of Anthony Dangerfield An enslaved man ...

Article

Ronald Walters

The dispersal of Africans around the globe occurred through both prolonged social processes and historical events, such as slavery, trade, war, and regular emigration. These experiences created a diaspora, which eventually led to the efforts of dispersed Africans to reunify and to reclaim the dignity of their culture in the world. Pan-Africanism is an ideology that places the continent of Africa at the center of its diaspora, posing questions about the nature of continental unity as well as that among African-descended peoples.

Article

Frederick Douglass's idea of progress had its roots in the ideas of the Enlightenment—in particular, the concepts of human rights and natural law. He held a firm belief that a united America could be formed from the fractured society of alienated groups he saw around him and that the resulting synthesis would incorporate the best of all the various sociocultural groups. Similarly, he did not regard interracial marriage as a horror to be prevented, as did those who passed miscegenation laws. Rather, he believed that the mulatto (a person of mixed black and white ancestry) represented a biological advance in human nature, blending the strengths of both races into a new and better type of person. After the death of his first wife, Anna, he put his philosophy of mixed marriage into practice by marrying a white woman, Helen Pitts with whom he had worked Receiving censure from ...

Article

Kevin Hogg

United States Ambassador, was born Cynthia Norton in Burnett, Indiana, to George and Flossie Norton. She grew up with her eight siblings in the predominantly African American community of Lost Creek near Terre Haute, Indiana. From a young age, she was inspired by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who was one of the leading voices for civil rights in her husband's administration. After graduating from Otter Creek High School in Terre Haute, she remained in contact with her principal and mentor, Herbert Lamb, who helped her create a 25‐year plan to achieve her childhood dream of becoming an Ambassador to Kenya.

She married Otto Shepard in November 1946 and began a bachelor s degree but she left school to have children At Lamb s prompting Shepard Perry became active in politics She offered her services to the Indiana gubernatorial campaign of Terre Haute Mayor Ralph Tucker he informed her that ...

Article

Sibyl Collins Wilson

anthropologist, university professor, and diplomat, was born in Trinidad and Tobago (then in the British West Indies) to Ettice Francis and Joseph McDonald Skinner. His parents’ professions are not recorded. One of five children—two girls and three boys—Skinner was raised by an aunt from Barbados. Although he was not raised to recognize personal limitations in his ability to learn and was exposed to many different cultures, he recognized that his color limited his economic opportunities in the British Caribbean. His family life also prefigured his scholarly interest in class differences, with his mother's family regarded as more modest in achievements and means than his father's Barbadian forebears, who were landowners and merchants. In 1943 he moved to the United States to live with his father in Harlem New York but instead of finding a job Skinner decided to enlist in the Army as the U S ...

Article

Yevette Richards Jordan

labor leader and Pan-Africanist, was born Maida Stewart in Panama, the daughter of Adina Stewart Carrington, a beautician, and Harold Stewart, a worker on the Panama Canal Zone project. At the age of seven she immigrated with her parents to the United States and settled in Harlem, and soon after they arrived, her parents separated. From 1923 to 1926 Springer attended the Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth in Bordentown, New Jersey, a boarding school renowned for its teaching staff but encumbered by the industrial model of education advocated by Booker T. Washington. Not until 1927 did the school expand beyond its focus vocational training by offering a more academic curriculum that could lead to a high school diploma. The commandant of the school was Lester Granger with whom Springer would later share a friendship and working relationship when he served as executive director ...

Article

Yolanda L. Watson Spiva

educator, Africanist, and anthropologist, was born Gloria Albertha Marshall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; nothing is known of her parents. She attended Dillard Elementary School and Dillard High School. A student of high academic prowess and promise, she skipped grade levels because of her exceptional ability and mastery of her school work and was classified as a high school junior at the age of fourteen. At fifteen she was offered and accepted early admission to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, on a Ford Foundation Early Entrant Scholarship. In 1955, while a student at Fisk, Gloria attended Oberlin College as part of an academic exchange program and was exposed to an educational setting that she perceived to be a better fit for her academic interests. Consequently she transferred from Fisk to Oberlin to complete her undergraduate degree.

Sudarkasa received her bachelor s degree in Anthropology and English ...

Article

Bethany K. Dumas

linguist and cultural historian, was born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. His father, Rooks Turner, earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University, then founded a school that later became the site of a state university. His mother, Elizabeth, was educated in the public schools of the state. Two of his brothers studied medicine and law. His family background provided inspiration for his great academic success.

Turner earned three academic degrees, contributed to American linguistic research in methodology and publications, founded and edited a newspaper, served as professor and administrative head at universities, founded journals, studied West African languages and participated in a Peace Corps project. He received a BA in English in 1914 from Howard University (in Washington, D.C.), an MA in English in 1917 from Harvard University, and a PhD in English in 1926 from the University of Chicago. His dissertation, Anti Slavery Sentiment in American ...