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David H. Anthony

Islamic scholar, Jamaican slave, and author, was born in Timbuktu, Mali. When he was two years old his family moved to Jenné in the western Sudan, another major center of Islamic learning and a renowned Sahelian trade city. Heir to a long tradition of Islamic saints and scholars claiming descent from the Prophet Muhammad, he was part of one of several dynasties designated as Sherifian or Shurfaa. Abu Bakr was trained and certified in Jenné by several ulama, the highly intellectual stratum of Islamic teachers. He was in the process of becoming a cleric when he was captured. As was true for many Islamized Africans caught in the vortex of the Atlantic slave trade, Abu Bakr's itinerant life had pre slave African and post slave black Atlantic dimensions His path shares the trajectory of many coreligionists from Muslim areas of the continent as well ...

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Ronald P. Dufour

pianist and composer, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Mount Vernell Allen Jr., a principal in the Detroit public school system, and Barbara Jean Allen, a defense contract administrator for the federal government. She began studying classical piano at age seven but was also exposed to jazz at an early age. She met the trumpeter Marcus Belgrave when he was an artist-in-residence at her high school, Cass Technical; she studied jazz piano with him, and he became an important mentor, appearing on several of her later recordings. Allen also studied at the Jazz Development Workshop, a community-based organization.

After graduating from high school, Allen attended Howard University, where she was captivated by the music of Thelonious Monk and studied with John Malachi. In 1979 she earned a BA in Jazz Studies and taught briefly at Howard before moving to New York City where she ...

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Stephen Cory

the most famous Maliki scholar to serve under Almoravid rule in Morocco, was born in the city of Ceuta on the North African Mediterranean coast. He achieved fame as a strict interpreter of Maliki law and as chief qadi (judge of religious law), both in Granada and in Ceuta. He was also a defender of Almoravid authority in the face of increasingly sharp criticism being leveled against the dynasty both in Spain and Morocco. Qadi ʿAyyad lived long enough to witness the fall of the Almoravids at the hands of the Almohad movement in 1147. He was taken captive by the Almohads to their capital in Marrakech, where he died in 1149. It is thought that he was murdered by order of the Almohad caliph, ʿAbd al-Muʾmin.

ʿAyyad s family originated in Yemen and migrated to the Islamic West at some point following the Islamic conquests taking up ...

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Alessandro Gori

originally an African slave, is universally known in the Muslim world as the first muezzin (muʿaddin) in the history of Islam and a close companion of the Prophet Muhammad. The biography of Bilal can be reconstructed thanks to many different Islamic traditional sources.

Bilal was born in Mecca in the late sixth century He was most probably the property of the rich Meccan trader Umayya b Khalaf head of the Jumah clan whose goats and sheeps he used to pasture He had an Ethiopian or more generally a black African origin which explains his nickname al Habashi the Abyssinian From his mother Hamama he is also frequently called Ibn Hamama the son of Hamama Bilal came to know Islam at its first inception and was one of the earliest converts to the new faith His religious conversion provoked the wrath of his master who brutally tortured him to ...

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Eric Gardner

author and educator, was born in Buffalo, New York, to abolitionist and author William Wells Brown and Elizabeth Schooner. The small family moved to Farmington, New York, in 1845. Her father, soon-to-be famous as the author of a successful slave narrative and an abolitionist lecturer, separated from her mother soon after, and moved to Boston with Josephine and her older sister Clarissa. Elizabeth Brown reportedly died in January 1851. During the years surrounding the 1847 publication of Brown's Narrative and his 1849 journey to Europe (after refusing to have his freedom purchased), the sisters stayed in New Bedford with the family of local activist Nathan Johnson (a friend of Frederick Douglass) and attended school.

Josephine and Clarissa went to London to join their father in June 1851 aboard the steamer America under the care of Reverend Charles Spear a journey they shared with ...

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Richard Alperin

teacher, coroner, scrivener, selectman, and justice of the peace, was born in New Market (now Newmarket), New Hampshire, the only child of Hopestill, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, housewright, and Catherine Cheswell. The name is sometimes spelled “Cheswill.” Wentworth's grandfather, Richard Cheswell, a black slave in Exeter, New Hampshire, purchased twenty acres of land from the Hilton Grant after he gained his freedom. The deed, dated 18 October 1716/17 (the discrepancy arises from the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar) is the earliest known deed in the state of New Hampshire showing land ownership by a black man. The land was located in what was to become the town of Newmarket. Richard's only child, Hopestill (1712–? became a housewright and worked mostly in Portsmouth He took part in building the John Paul Jones House as well as other important houses Hopestill was active in local affairs and ...

Article

Yusuf Nuruddin

Harold Cruse (8 March 1916–20 March 2005), an iconoclastic social critic and a largely self-educated cultural historian, achieved distinction as the preeminent African American dissident public intellectual of the 1960s. Although he authored several books, his reputation rests largely on his monumental work The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1967), a flawed yet brilliant, imaginative, sweeping, and provocative polemic. A thematically united collection of essays, Crisis presents a withering assessment of the black intelligentsia for its self-defeating embrace of both liberal and radical integrationist politics, especially its involvement in the Communist Party, of which Cruse was once a member.

Within the Communist Party and other leftist organizations black political interests according to Cruse historically have been subordinated to white political interests including Jewish and white ethnic nationalisms As a remedy Cruse calls upon the black intelligentsia to abandon its bankrupt integrationist strategies and embrace its ...

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Osire Glacier

, founder of the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, the oldest operating university in the world, was also known as “Fatima al-Fihriya” and oum al-banine the mother of the children The al Fihri family migrated from Qayrawan located in present day Tunisia to Fez at the beginning of the ninth century during the reign of the Idrisids the first independent Muslim dynasty to govern Morocco During this period there was a significant migration of people from Qayrawan to Fez As a result the population of Fez grew rapidly far outpacing the city s existing infrastructure This left many neighborhoods lacking mosques When Mohammed al Fihri an affluent businessman and member of the Qayrawan migrant community died he left a large fortune to his daughters Mariam and Fatima Both daughters were highly educated and therefore well aware of the community s need for public gathering places Thus they decided ...

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William E. Burns

, educator and philanthropist, was born Catherine Williams as her mother, Katy Williams, a slave, was in transit from Virginia to New York City. Nothing is known of her father. When she was only eight years old Katy was separated forever from her mother, who was sold by their master. She later credited her own compassion for children to the pain she suffered at the loss. Katy underwent a conversion experience at the age of fourteen or fifteen and shortly afterward, in 1789, joined New York's Scotch Presbyterian Church (later the Second Presbyterian Church), possibly causing some controversy among the white members of the church, which spatially separated white and black worshippers.

When Katy was sixteen or seventeen she was purchased by a New York woman for $200 The woman s plan was to allow Katy her freedom after six years work in compensation for the payment However ...

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crystal am nelson

community leader and musician, was born Occramer Marycoo in West Africa. Although his country of origin is unknown, a 1757 ship manifest shows that he was brought to America at the age of fourteen. He was on one of that year's seven slaving voyages that brought a total of 831 African slaves to Rhode Island. Gardner was one of the 106,544 slaves brought to Newport, Rhode Island, between 1709 and 1807. Caleb Gardner, a white merchant and member of the principal slave-trading team Briggs & Gardner, bought the teenage Marycoo and baptized him into the Congregational faith as Newport Gardner.

The forced exposure to Christianity aided Gardner s rise to a leadership position in the New World He quickly learned English from daily Bible studies with his master who freed Gardner after overhearing him pray for emancipation Upon gaining his freedom Gardner combined his new religious fervor with ...

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David Bradford

guitarist, teacher, composer, arranger, and civil rights advocate, was born in Norfolk County, Virginia, to Exum Holland a farmer. His mother's name is not recorded.

Justin Holland recognized at an early age that rural Virginia offered few opportunities for an ambitious young African American. Born on a farm in Norfolk County to free parents in 1819, Holland was only fourteen when he set out for Boston. Massachusetts was the first state to abolish slavery (in 1783 and Boston had a small but comparatively thriving black population Holland found work that provided in his words a good living in nearby Chelsea and became immersed in the energetic cultural life of the city He had shown a knack for music from a young age but farm life provided little opportunity to develop musical talent Now inspired by the performances of Mariano Perez one of the ...

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Russell Hopley

Egyptian Islamic theologian and traditionist, was born in Cairo. His full name was ʿAbd Allah bin Wahb bin Muslim al-Qurashi ibn Wahb. Ibn Wahb received his early training in the Islamic sciences under the tutelage of the Egyptian scholar ʿUthman ibn ʿAbd al-Hakam al-Judhami (d. 779), and he traveled thereupon to Medina to study with Malik ibn Anas (d. 795), the eponymous founder of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence. Ibn Wahb is said to have spent some twenty years in Medina studying at the hand of Malik, and this latter figure was sufficiently impressed with him that he gave the young man the title faqih reportedly the only student upon whom he bestowed this honorific Despite the esteem these two figures felt for one another they did have points of dispute between them over for example whether a Muslim should receive instruction from a non Muslim Malik reportedly ...

Article

jurist, historian, and litterateur, was born in the city of Sabta (present-day Ceuta) to an Arab family with origins in the Yemen. ‘Iyad's training in the various branches of Islamic learning was remarkably thorough. He undertook his early education in Sabta at the hand of several scholars, including the jurist ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Isa and the faqih ‘Ali Abu Ishaq al-Fasi. He then traveled to al-Andalus, and there exists notice that he studied there with no fewer than a hundred scholars, among them several leading figures of the age, including the traditionist Abu ‘Ali al-Sadafi of Murcia (d. 1120/21), the jurist Abu al-Walid ibn Rushd of Cordoba (d. 1126), and the religious scholar and jurist Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi of Seville (d. 1148).

Unlike many of his fellow North Africans it appears that Iyad never made the journey to ...

Article

Andy Gensler

bandleader, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and teacher, was probably born in Philadelphia to parents whose names are unknown. Early scholarship suggested he was born in Martinique in the West Indies. By 1812 he was known to be a professional musician in Philadelphia. While there is little historical record of Francis “Frank” Johnson's early life, it is known that three key figures helped young Francis hone his prodigious music skills: Matt Black, an African American bandleader from Philadelphia; P. S. Gilmore, “the father of the American band”; and Richard Willis, the director of the West Point military band.

That Johnson played many instruments is clear from a student's observations of his studio, which housed “instruments of all kinds…. Bass drum, bass viol, bugles and trombones” (A Gentleman of Much Promise: The Diary of Isaac Mickle, 1837–1845 196 While Johnson was an accomplished French horn ...

Article

Steve Strimer

Methodist minister, abolitionist lecturer, and self-emancipated slave, was born to slave parents, Grace and Tony Kirkwood, at the Hawes plantation in Hanover county near Wilmington, North Carolina. About 1815 he was sold to a storekeeper from whom he took his surname. After his escape to Massachusetts, Jones became a tireless speaker on the antislavery circuit in New England. The principal source of information for his early life is his widely circulated slave narrative, The Experience of Thomas H. Jones, Who Was a Slave for Forty-Three Years. First published in 1850, his book went through at least nine printings.

Thomas succeeded in learning to read despite the disapproval of Mr. Jones, the storekeeper. Thomas was converted to Christianity around 1824. He attended services at a neighboring plantation against the objections of his irreligious owner. Upon Mr. Jones's death in 1829 Thomas began to ...

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Allan D. Austin

Muslim teacher who is variously known as Kibbe, Lamen Abd al-Amin, and Paul. Beyond two short notices in the African [Colonization Society's] Repository (1835) and a mention in a list of Liberian colonists, all that is known about Kebe was recorded by Theodore Dwight Jr., African Colonizationist and a founder and secretary of the American Ethnological Society.

Lamine Kebe was born into a prominent family of the influential Kaba, or Kebe, of the Jakhanke clan of the Soninke or Serahule people. These were the founders of ancient Ghana, according to some accounts, and, more conclusively, twelfth-century converts to Islam from an area near the bend of the Niger River in present-day Mali. A short history of his people by Kebe accurately but sketchily describes the migration of a pragmatic, dedicated Qāadirīya brotherhood of teachers of Islam toward Kebe's Futa Jallon (home of Bilali ...

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Richard J. Boles

minister, teacher, missionary, and abolitionist, was born free in New York City during the spring of 1793. His parents and the circumstances of his childhood are unknown. Around 1800 Levington relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he spent most of his adolescence and worked in the bookstore of Sheldon Potter. There he became a friend and protégé of Sheldon's brother, Alonzo Potter, who eventually became the Episcopal bishop of Pennsylvania and who helped secure Levington's entry into the Protestant Episcopal ministry. In 1819 Levington moved to Albany, New York, under Potter's mentorship. Potter became a professor at Union College and he unofficially instructed Levington part-time there until he returned to Philadelphia in 1822 In Albany Levington was employed as a teacher in a school for African American children and he attended St Peter s Church It was likely through his teaching position that ...

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Leandi Venter, Hannah Heile, and Micaela Ginnerty

a former slave who helped facilitate the establishment of the first African American school in Virginia, which allowed for the formation of a thriving African American community bearing his name. Odrick was born into slavery and owned by the Coleman family of Dranesville, a district of Fairfax County located in northern Virginia. Little was documented about his life as a slave. However, it is known that immediately following his post–Civil War emancipation, Odrick moved to Chicago, Illinois. While in Chicago, Odrick employed his abilities as a carpenter, a trade he mastered during his enslavement. After his time in Chicago, Odrick returned to Virginia.

Once in Virginia, Odrick married “Maria” Annie Marie Riddle, who had also been born into slavery and had belonged to the Todd family of Difficult Run in northern Virginia. With Maria, Odrick started a family beginning with John, his eldest son, followed by Frank, Thadeus ...

Article

Martha L. Wharton

abolitionist, writer, lecturer, women's rights activist, and social critic, was born Nancy Gardner in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the daughter of an African American and Indian mother and an African American father, Thomas Gardner, who was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and died within three months of Nancy's birth. What is known about her is drawn primarily from her 1850 memoir, A Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince. While Prince does not name her mother in her narrative, she provides descriptions of both parents that highlight their African descent, and she recounts her grandfather's violent removal to America, along with his memories of a proud life in Africa. She briefly notes the capture of her Indian grandmother by local English colonials. Her narrative speaks clearly to issues of race, gender, slavery, and morality in the United States and the Caribbean.

Prince s childhood ...

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Russell Hopley

jurist, was born in the Tunisian city of al-Qayrawan to a family originally from the region of Qabis (modern- day Gabès). His full name was Abu ʾl-Hasan ʿAli b. Muhammad b. Khalaf al-Maʿrifi al-Qabisi.

A close companion and cousin of Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (d. 996), al-Qabisi received his early education at the hand of several Maliki scholars from al-Qayrawan, including Abu ʾl-Abbas al-Ibyani (d. 971), Ibn Masrur al-Dabbagh (d. 969), and Darras al-Fasi (d. 967). Of these, it was perhaps Ibn Masrur who played the greatest role in al-Qabisi’s intellectual formation. Ibn Masrur was himself a disciple of the eminent Maliki jurist Abu Said al-Tanukhi Sahnun, and he thus represents an important link in the transmission of orthodox Malikism between its early forebears in al-Qayrawan and its subsequent articulation by figures such as Ibn Abi Zayd and al-Qabisi.

Al Qabisi undertook the journey to the cultural and intellectual capitals ...