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Camille A. Collins

founder of MOVE, an anarchist communal organization active primarily in the Philadelphia area, was born Vincent Leaphart in the Mantua section of West Philadelphia.

Africa served in the Korean War, though little else is known about his early life. In the early 1970s, while working as a neighborhood handyman and dog walker (nicknamed “the dog man”), he began to corral followers. With the assistance of Donald Glassey a white graduate student in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania Africa a third grade dropout compiled the MOVE doctrine in a document known as The Guidelines His group was first known as The Christian Movement for Life later The Movement and finally MOVE Numerous press reports stress the fact that MOVE is not an acronym and therefore the tenets of the group can only be vaguely delineated Responding to this criticism group member Delbert Africa quipped It means what it says ...


Joshunda Sanders

activist and sole adult survivor of a deadly bombing of a home of the MOVE organization, in one of Philadelphia's black neighborhoods, that killed 11 people and left over 250 people homeless. Africa was born Ramona Johnson in West Philadelphia, where she was raised by her mother, Eleanor Jones, and attended Catholic school from first through twelfth grade. She then attended Temple University, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and an associate's degree in Criminal Justice. In 1976, her last year at Temple, she was hired by Community Legal Services, the state-sponsored legal aid in Philadelphia. There she worked helping tenants with legal issues they had with their landlords, an experience that set the foundation for activism later in her life. “Prior to that I was not active in anything,” Africa said I had a general idea about injustice by police brutality and ...


Sandy Dwayne Martin

clergyman, community activist, denomination organizer, and black nationalist was born Albert Buford Cleage Jr., one of seven children of Pearl (whose maiden name is now unknown) and Albert Cleage Sr., in Indianapolis, Indiana. Shortly after Agyeman's birth, Cleage, Sr., a medical doctor, relocated with his family to Detroit, Michigan, where the father helped to establish the city's first African American hospital. After an undergraduate education that included a stay at Fisk University in Tennessee, Agyeman received his BA in Sociology from Wayne State University in 1937, serving as a caseworker for the Department of Public Welfare from 1931 to 1938. Subsequently Agyeman felt the call to ministry and obtained a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Oberlin College Graduate School of Theology in 1943. Also in 1943Agyeman married Doris Graham, to which union was born two children, Kris and the ...


Melissa Castillo-Garsow

was born Maymie Leona Turpeau De Mena in 1891, to Isabella Regist and Francisco Hiberto De Mena in San Carlos, Nicaragua. She was raised in an upper-middle-class family—her father was the government minister of lands in San Carlos—and was privately educated. De Mena traveled to the United States in 1913–1914 and 1917–1925. She was employed as a clerk-stenographer and teacher before she began her career in Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) as an interpreter, lecturer, organizer, and journalist. Originally, she joined the Chicago chapter of the UNIA, serving as one of their delegates to the national convention in 1924.

Although in 1925 she was still listed as part of the Chicago UNIA, following her participation at the 1924 convention De Mena was tapped by Garvey to accompany George Emonei Carter and Henrietta Vinton Davis on the SS Goethals when it toured the Caribbean to ...


Leland Conley Barrows

peripatetic Liberian intellectual and diplomat, pan-African theoretician, and sometime British colonial official in Sierra Leone and Nigeria, was born on 3 August 1832 on St. Thomas in the Danish Virgin Islands to free parents of Igbo or Ewe origin. Thanks to the influence of an American Presbyterian missionary, the Rev. John P. Knox, Blyden decided, while in his teens, to become a Presbyterian minister himself but was thwarted in his efforts to enroll at the Rutgers Theological College because he was black. Thus, again influenced by Knox and the contacts of the latter in the American Colonization Society, he immigrated to Liberia in 1850. Here he would complete secondary education at the Presbyterian Church–sponsored Alexander High School, where he would then become a teacher.

Blyden s perception that his parents his mother a teacher and his father a tailor were of pure Negro African origin his encounters with slavery ...


Adam Meyer

Little remembered today, Edward Wilmot Blyden was the most important African thinker of the nineteenth century, leading one of the most varied careers of any Black man in that era. Born in Saint Thomas, Blyden came to America in 1850 to attend Rutgers Theological College but was rejected because of his race. He subsequently emigrated to Liberia, grew enamored of African life, and became a staunch supporter of his new homeland. Feeling called upon to undermine misconceptions about “the dark continent” and to encourage Blacks throughout the diaspora to repatriate, Blyden spent the remainder of his life serving this cause in several capacities. As a journalist, Blyden edited the Liberia Herald and founded and edited the Negro and the West African Reporter two of the first Pan African journals As an educator he served as principal of Alexander High School Monrovia Liberia s educational commissioner to Britain and America ...


David Dabydeen

Scholar, lifelong champion of African rights, and Liberia's first accredited diplomat to the Court of St James, London. Edward Blyden was born in August 1832 in Charlotte‐Amalie, the capital of the island of St Thomas in the Danish West Indies. The third child of free parents—his father was a tailor and his mother a teacher—Blyden enjoyed a tranquil early childhood of personal tuition from his mother, combined with attendance at the local primary school. In 1842 the family moved to Porto Bello in Venezuela, where Blyden's linguistic talents first came to prominence. By the age of 12 he was fluent in Spanish, while at later stages in his life he would also master Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic. On returning to St Thomas two years later, Blyden continued his schooling in the mornings while serving out a five‐year apprenticeship as a tailor in the afternoons.

In 1845 the ...


Lisa Clayton Robinson

Edward Wilmot Blyden is considered a pioneer in Pan-Africanist thought, although the term “Pan-Africanism” was not coined until the very end of Blyden's long life and career. Throughout his career as a diplomat, statesman, educator, and one of Liberia's most prominent champions, Blyden encouraged people of African descent around the world to embrace their history and culture, and to return to Africa, their ancestral homeland. His call for “Africa for Africans” represented a vision that was truly ahead of its time, that of a proud, rich, black civilization spread throughout the African continent. Blyden's writings and speeches influenced leaders and philosophers such as Cheikh Anta Diop, Kwame Nkrumah, Marcus Garvey, and C. L. R. James.

Blyden was born in 1832 into a middle-class free black family in Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands Although he was brought up in relative privilege ...


Kimberly Welch

educator, diplomat, and advocate of Pan‐Africanism, was born on the island of St. Thomas, part of the present‐day Virgin Islands, the son of Romeo Blyden, a tailor, and Judith (maiden name unknown), a schoolteacher. The family lived in a predominantly Jewish, English‐speaking community in the capital, Charlotte Amalie. Blyden went to the local primary school but also received private tutoring from his father. In 1842 the Blydens left St. Thomas for Porto Bello, Venezuela, where Blyden showed his–facility for learning foreign languages. By 1844 the family had returned home to St. Thomas. Blyden attended school only in the morning, and in the afternoons he served a five‐year apprenticeship as a tailor. In 1845 the Blyden family met the Reverend John P Knox a famous white American minister who had assumed pastorship of the Dutch Reformed Church in St Thomas where the Blydens were members Knox quickly became Blyden ...


Akinyele K. Umoja

founder and principal organizer of the Southern California chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP), was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, to Evon Carter Little information is published about his early life. Evon Carter moved the family to Los Angeles, California, in the early 1950s. Carter became known to friends and relatives by the name “Bunchy” Carter would introduce himself as “Bunchy … like a bunch of greens.”

During the time Carter s family moved to Los Angeles black youth built street organizations in South Central Los Angeles to defend themselves against white supremacist youth gangs in predominately white neighborhoods adjacent to the African American community One of those street organizations was the Slausons named for Slauson Avenue which runs through South Central Bunchy rose as a leader of the Slausons in the early 1960s The Slausons with 5 000 members was the largest street force in Los Angeles during the ...


Kimberly Curtis

visual artist, educator, and activist, was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, the second of the seven children of Dana C. Chandler Sr., a longshoreman, and Ruth Chandler. At age five Dana Chandler Jr. and his family moved to Roxbury, Massachusetts, a predominantly African American community. Chandler's parents, who had not attended school beyond the ninth and eleventh grades, raised their children to recognize the importance of completing high school and earning a college degree. Chandler grew up in a poor, working-class family and attended Boston's public schools throughout childhood and adolescence. He received primary and elementary education at the Asa Gray and Sherwin schools. After a six-month hospital stay to treat rheumatic fever, he transferred from Boston Latin School to J.P. Timility Junior High School. At Boston Technical High School his art teachers Ralph Rosenthal and Gunnar Munnick inspired him to become an artist. In 1959 Chandler graduated ...


Jocelyn L. Womack

activist, educator, and lawyer, was born Kathleen Neal in Dallas, Texas, to Ernest Neal and Juette Johnson, educators. Activism and scholarship were staples of the Neal family home, as both of her parents held advanced degrees. Ernest and Juette met while attending the University of Michigan in the 1940s. Juette held a master's degree in mathematics, and Ernest earned a PhD in Sociology. Ernest was working as a Wiley College sociology professor in Marshall, Texas, at the time of Kathleen's birth.

Shortly after Kathleen s birth Ernest accepted a job at Tuskegee Institute relocating the family to Alabama In addition to Kathleen s early exposure to academia her father s work in foreign aid promoted a family environment in which social progress was frequently discussed At the age of nine Kathleen had already embarked upon a life of global travel and had an appreciation of diverse cultures Her father ...


Pedro R. Rivera

and founder of the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement (ANPM) in Harlem, New York City. Cooks was born on 23 June 1913 in the city of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. He was the youngest of four siblings. His parents, James and Alice Cooks, moved from the island of St. Martin to San Pedro during the sugar boom at the turn of the twentieth century that brought thousands of workers from other parts of the Caribbean to the Dominican Republic. James became a successful entrepreneur who also was concerned with helping the workers by maintaining mutual aid societies. Carlos was introduced to political activities as a child. His career in New York as a leader for black racial consciousness started from a local Dominican branch of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which was housed in a family property.

The UNIA was founded by the Jamaican Marcus Garvey who established ...


Alexander Crummell was the son of Boston Crummell, a self-emancipated black born in Africa, and Charity Hicks, an African American whose family had lived free in the United States for several generations. Crummell received his early education at New York's African Free School and at Canal Street High School, both operated by African American clergymen. In 1835 Crummell and several other teenagers enrolled in a new academy for black students in Canaan, New Hampshire, but angry whites destroyed the school soon after it opened. He completed his secondary education at the Oneida Institute in Whitesboro, New York. Run by black and white abolitionists, Oneida combined studies of the classics with manual labor—a simultaneously intellectual and practical approach to life that Crummell would employ the rest of his years.

Graduating from Oneida in 1839 Crummell applied to the General Theological Seminary in New York City with ...


Elizabeth J. West

Born in New York City to Charity and Boston Crum-mell, Alexander grew up in a family that placed great emphasis on freedom, independence, and education. Although his parents had not experienced the privilege of a formal education, they placed Alexander in the Mulberry Street School and hired additional private tutors for him. When Crummell decided to enter the priesthood, he applied for entry into the theological seminary of the Episcopal Church. According to Crum-mell's own account in his 1894 retirement address, “Shades and Lights”, the admissions board denied his application because its policy was to exclude blacks from positions in the church hierarchy. Crummell was then forced to study privately with sympathetic clergy. These early studies shaped the stoic and methodical style that remained evident throughout his long career as writer and orator. Although he was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1844, it was not until 1847 ...


Zachery R. Williams

Alexander Crummell was born in New York City, the son of Boston Crummell, said to have been an African prince, and a free mother (whose name is unknown). Crummell, one of the most prominent black nationalist intellectuals and ministers of the nineteenth century, strongly believed that the combination of Christianity and education would elevate blacks in America and Africa to a high level of civilization and prominence as a race. As a youth, Crummell came under the influence of the Reverend Peter Williams Jr., a staunch supporter of back-to-Africa movements. Prior to the Civil War, Crummell was a major supporter of African colonization. Ironically, however, his earliest success as an orator was as an opponent of the American Colonization Society.

Crummell spent the years 1853 to 1872 in Liberia with his family and became a citizen of the country Upon his arrival there he worked as a missionary ...


Frank E. Dobson

pioneering scholar, religious thinker, and black nationalist leader. Alexander Crummell was born in 1819 in New York City to Boston Crummell, a former slave, and Charity Hicks Crummell, a freeborn black woman. Crummell's father was taken from Sierra Leone at age thirteen and sold into slavery in America. Crummell's parents were members of a group known as “Free Africans,” and they were activists in the movement to abolish slavery, as well as in other social-uplift efforts for blacks. John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish, the editors of the first black newspaper, Freedom's Journal (1827), were associates of Boston Crummell and met regularly within the Crummell home. Alexander Crummell was educated at the African Free School—alumni of which included Henry Highland Garnet and Ira Aldridge—and at the Canal Street High School run by Peter Williams a black clergyman and abolitionist who became a ...


Jonathan Morley

Journalist and activist born to wealthy parents, against whom she rebelled. Cunard became a well‐known figure in the London modernist movement, and throughout the busiest period in her career, the 1930s, was a controversial advocate of black emancipation in the United States and Africa.

At 855 pages long, weighing nearly 8 pounds, with 150 contributors, the NEGRO anthology of 1934 was Cunard's most ambitious publication: a collection of essays, polemics, and poetry from France, Britain, and America designed to highlight the vibrancy of the black world and to lobby for black freedom. Writers of interest include the future African presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Pan‐Africanists George Padmore and W. E. B. DuBois, the black modernist novelist Zora Neale Hurston, and the poets Nicolás Guillen, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Countee Cullen, Alain Locke, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound who ...


LaVerne Gyant

actress, activist, and elocutionist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Mansfield Vinton Davis, a musician, and Mary Ann (Johnson) Davis. Davis's talents as an actress and elocutionist were apparently inherited from her father, while her inclination toward activism came from her stepfather, George A. Hackett, who was a recognized leader within the African American community in Baltimore. Both Mansfield Davis and George Hackett died while she was still young After her stepfather s death Davis and her mother moved to Washington D C where she had the advantage of attending the best schools and with her fondness for books made rapid progress in her studies At the age of fifteen she passed the necessary exams to become a teacher and began teaching in the Maryland school district During this time she was recruited by the Louisiana State Board of Education who tendered her ...


The Editors

American journalist, abolitionist, and Pan-Africanist, was born a free American in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), to Pati Peace, a free seamstress whose parents were of royal West African heritage, and Samuel Delany, an enslaved carpenter, on 6 May 1812. When attempts were made to enslave Martin and a sibling, Pati carried them 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the Winchester courthouse to preserve their freedom. They soon learned to read and write using The New York Primer and Spelling Book.

Defying a Virginia law, Delany wrote passes to enslaved blacks. Upon being discovered, and fearing reprisals, Pati took them to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; they were joined by their father after buying his freedom a year later. The young Delany continued learning but occasionally left school to work to support himself. He continued his schooling from 1823 to 1831 in the tightly knit black community of Kernstown outside ...