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Jorge Amado, who wrote more than thirty novels during his career, played a significant role in representing African culture in Brazilian literature. Among his subjects are the blacks of Salvador, in Amado's home state of Bahia, and the African religious rituals that sustain them. Although Amado's approach to Afro-Brazilian traditions is sympathetic and exceptionally detailed, his Bahian novels have met with much controversy. A younger generation of Brazilian and non-Brazilian critics have accused Amado of creating overly exotic portraits of black culture and creating simplistic, class-bound character types.

Amado the son of a plantation owner in Bahia attended a Jesuit college at age 12 However after just one year he rebelled against the strict lifestyle at the school and left to live with his grandfather During the 1930s Amado joined the Brazilian Communist Party and his writings from this period reflect his ideological commitment to communism These works such ...

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Charles Orson Cook

one of the most prolific white scholars of African American history in the twentieth century. Herbert Aptheker was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915 and was educated at Columbia University in the 1930s, where he took an undergraduate degree in geology and an MA and a PhD in history. His first important publication, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), was based on his doctoral dissertation and challenged the prevailing wisdom that slaves were largely passive victims of white masters. In part an outgrowth of Aptheker's master's thesis on Nat Turner, American Negro Slave Revolts immediately became a controversial work and has remained so since. He was befriended by the influential African American historian Carter G. Woodson and the legendary black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, both of whom encouraged his interest in Negro history. Aptheker's other writings include a seven-volume Documentary History of the Negro People ...

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David Killingray

Pan‐AfricanMarxist and scholar. Blackman was born in Barbados and won a scholarship to the University of Durham, where he studied theology. He was ordained in the Anglican Church and went to the Gambia as a missionary priest, where he clashed with his bishop over differences of pay for white and black clergy. Having resigned from the Church, Blackman returned to Barbados, but then, in 1938, he settled in London. He joined the leftist Negro Welfare Association, of which he became chairman, and also the League Against Imperialism, being a major speaker on both their platforms. He also became a member of the Executive Committee of the more liberally inclined League of Coloured Peoples, and in 1938–9 editor of its then occasional journal The Keys, writing critically on colonial policy; he also gave evidence to the Royal Commission on the West Indies. In November 1938 ...

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Allison Drew

South African solicitor and Communist, was born on 29 June 1873 in London. He was the second of four children of prominent Nonconformists Percy Bunting and Mary Hyett Lidgett Bunting and the great grandson of Dr. Jabez Bunting, the foremost figure of early nineteenth-century Wesleyan Methodism. Bunting’s father, a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn, edited the prestigious Contemporary Review and was a leading figure in the Liberal Party; his mother was a social activist on behalf of working-class girls and women. The Buntings hosted frequent overseas visitors representing various social and political causes. Bunting internalized the ideals of moral rectitude and service to others imbued in him by his parents, and carried them with him throughout his life.

Intelligent and musically gifted, Bunting excelled in classics, winning scholarships to University College School and St. Paul’s School. In 1892 he entered Magdalen College Oxford as a classics demy scholarship student In ...

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Charles Rosenberg

was born in New York City on 29 September 1915, the son of Charles Breechford Burnham and Louise St. Clair Williams Burnham, Afro-Guyanese migrants to the United States. A cousin of Guyana prime minister Forbes Burnham, Louis Burnham stands as a marked contrast to the common stereotype that Guyanese socialists are mostly of East Indian descent, while Guyanese of African descent are more conservative in their politics.

Some sources presume that Burnham was born in Barbados, but census records show that while his Guyanese parents were both born there, his mother immigrated to the United States in 1909, and that his father did so no later than 1914, perhaps before 1910. Neither was a naturalized citizen in 1920, when the family lived at 253 West 139th Street in Harlem. He had an older brother, Charles St. Clair Burnham, born in New York in 1914 ...

Article

Alexandra Vega-Merino

Jesús Colón was born in 1901 in Cayey, a rural town near San Juan, Puerto Rico. In a 1917 editorial, which expressed a view that remained consistent through much of his professional life, he wrote about the capacity of words to transform society. A few months later he arrived in New York, New York, where he spent the rest of his life. There, he held multiple menial jobs, such as waiting tables and washing dishes. In 1918 he became a founding member of the Puerto Rican Committee of the Socialist Party; in the following decades he became a relentless organizer of other political and cultural groups. One year after his 1922 graduation from Boys High Evening School, he started writing for Justicia, the newspaper of the Puerto Rican Free Federation of Workers. Regular columns in publications such as Gráfico and the Daily Worker followed.

Colón s essays ...

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Emilio Jorge Rodríguez

was born Fabián Jesús Colón López, but he would use various pseudonyms, such as Miquis Tiquis and Pericles Espada throughout his career. Born on 20 January 1901 in Cayey, Puerto Rico; his father, Mauricio, was a baker and his mother, Paula, was a domestic worker. During his childhood while working in a tobacco factory near his home, he enjoyed reading literary works and absorbed the intellectual stimulation that the public readers in the tobacco shop offered workers throughout the day. After his family moved to San Juan, he attended school at the Escuela José Julián Acosta, where he directed the student paper ¡¡¡Adelante…!!! (1917) and ran the Manuel Fernández Juncos literary society. During this chapter of his life he began to write poetry. In 1917 he traveled to New York on the S.S. Carolina and settled in the home of his older brother Joaquín in Brooklyn Colón ...

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Peter Limb

known popularly as “Mota” (Gujerati term of affectionate respect) or “Doc,” South African communist, liberation movement and Indian leader, and physician, was born in Krugersdorp in 1909 to Muslim Indian immigrants Mohamed and Amina, who in 1904 started a business in Krugersdorp. The son of a prosperous merchant, racial segregation soon affected Yusuf as he traveled daily to working-class Fordsburg to attend Indian-only schools.

After early schooling, he left for India, matriculating at Aligarh Muslim College, where Gandhi’s anticolonial movement left a deep impression. Refusing to enter the family business, in 1929 he moved to London to study medicine and got involved in anticolonial politics. His father insisted he move to Edinburgh to avoid politics, and in 1936 Dadoo graduated with Glasgow and Edinburgh medical degrees, but his political involvement with the Independent Labour Party and Indian National Congress intensified as he began to read Marxist literature.

In 1936 ...

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Stacy Braukman

radical activist, scholar, and prison abolitionist, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, to Frank and Sally Davis. Her father, a former teacher, owned a service station, and her mother was a schoolteacher. Both had ties to the NAACP and friends in numerous radical groups, including the Communist Party. When Angela was four years old, her family moved from a housing project to a white neighborhood across town. The experience of being the only African Americans surrounded by hostile whites taught Davis at a young age the ravages of racism. Indeed, during the mid- to late 1940s, as more black families began moving into the area, white residents responded with violence, and the neighborhood took on the unenviable nickname “Dynamite Hill.” Davis's racial consciousness was further sharpened by attending the city's vastly inferior segregated public schools.As a junior at Birmingham s Parker High School at the age ...

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Solofo Randrianja

anticolonialist militant; general secretary of the French Section of the Madagascar Region Communist Party; political director; editor in chief of the journals L’Opinion, Le Réveil Malgache, L’Aurore malgache, L’Opinion de la nation Malgache, Le Prolétariat Malgache; and judicial counselor for the Departmental Union of the General Confederation of Labor was born 15 October 1876 in Simferopol, Russia. Dussac came from a colonial bourgeois family, despite the fact that his father was a communard. On his father's side his grandmother was descended from the Count of Villèle, minister to King Charles X. His maternal grandfather had been an engineer in the silver mines of the Ural Mountains and his maternal grandmother was a wealthy heiress from Coulommiers in north-central France. Dussac's father, however, was a fervent supporter of the French Republic and no doubt introduced him to the ideas of the Paris Commune of 1871 ...

Article

Robert Fay

James W. Ford was born in Pratt City, Alabama, on December 22, 1893. In 1913 he entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated in 1920 after serving in the army during World War I (1914–1918). Ford then moved to Chicago, where he became a postal worker and joined the Chicago Postal Workers Union and the American Negro Labor Congress, both affiliates of the Communist Party USA.

Ford joined the Communist Party in 1926 and rose rapidly through its ranks. In 1928 he was a delegate to the party's executive committee meeting in Moscow. In 1931 he became vice president of the party's League of Struggle for Negro Rights. He was the first African American on a presidential ticket, running for vice president with William Z. Foster in 1932. They received 102,991 votes.

In 1933 Ford was selected to head the party s ...

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Sandra Opdycke

labor leader and Communist Party official, was born James William Foursche in Pratt City, Alabama, the son of Lyman Foursche, a steelworker, and Nancy Reynolds, a domestic. Not long after his birth the family began to use a new surname when a white policeman questioning his father insisted that “Foursche” was too difficult to spell and changed the name to Ford. The most traumatic experience of Ford's boyhood was the lynching of his grandfather, a Georgia railroad worker. Ford started work at thirteen, joining his father at the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, where he worked as a water boy, mechanic's helper, and then steam-hammer operator. Nevertheless, he managed to complete high school.

Entering Fisk University at the age of twenty, Ford excelled in his studies and in athletics, but when America entered World War I in 1917 he withdrew from college to serve in ...

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Steven J. Niven

sharecropper and communist martyr, was born in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, a white majority county in the state's eastern piedmont. One of fifteen children, Gray was born into a family with a strong radical tradition. His father, whose name and occupation are unknown, was the son of Alfred Gray, an African American state legislator in Perry County, Alabama, during Reconstruction who famously vowed to fight for the Constitution “until hell freezes over.” A critic of both white racism and the inadequacy of the Freedmen's Bureau, Alfred Gray recognized that his outspoken militancy came at a price. “I may go to hell,” he told an interracial gathering in Uniontown in 1868 my home is hell but the white man shall go there with me Kelley 39 Ralph Gray who was only one year old when Reconstruction ended in Alabama grew up hearing stories of his grandfather s radicalism But ...

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Christine Dureau

poet, journalist, political activist, and Cuba's poet laureate, was born Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén y Batista in Camagüey, Cuba. His parents were of mixed African and Spanish descent; his father, a journalist and progressive senator, was murdered in 1917 while protesting against the conservative president Mario García Menocal.

Briefly a law student at the University of Havana, Nicolás soon left to become a journalist. He took after his father in populism and protest. Cuban society was victimized by sequential regimes of repression and oppression. Guillén was among the worst hit, due to his increasingly socialist ideology. His first poems and antiestablishment articles were published in the early 1920s. He and editors of the Mediodía newspaper were briefly jailed in 1936.

He joined the Communist Party. In 1937 he traveled to Spain for the Congress of Writers and Artists while doubling as a correspondent on ...

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Roanne Edwards

Born in Camagüey, Cuba, Nicolás Guillén is widely considered Cuba's preeminent poet, on a par with such Latin American literary masters as Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, and César Vallejo. According to literary scholar Josaphat B. Kubayanda, “Guillén's poetry was the first successful development in Cuba of a vital and original aesthetic based upon the black and African elements on Caribbean soil.” He was also a committed communist and his poems and journalism powerfully reflect his political and national concerns. Like the black American singer and activist Paul Robeson, Guillén devoted much of his life to the pursuit of peace, both in racially torn prerevolutionary Cuba and abroad. He traveled extensively throughout the world and in 1954 received the Lenin International Peace Prize.

Guillén is equally a part of the community of black poets exemplified by Harlem Renaissance writers Claude McKay, Sterling Brown ...

Article

Eric W. Petenbrink

political theorist, was born Haywood Hall in South Omaha, Nebraska, the youngest of three children of Haywood Hall, a factory worker and janitor, and Harriet Thorpe Hall. When he was fifteen, racist violence in Omaha prompted the family to move to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Hall soon dropped out of school and began working as a railroad dining car waiter. In 1915 the family moved to Chicago, Illinois, to be near extended family, and Hall enlisted in the military in 1917. He served in World War I for a year as part of an all-black unit in France, where he grew accustomed to the absence of racism. Hall married his first wife, Hazel, in 1920, but the marriage lasted only a few months. In spite of their lengthy separation, they did not officially divorce until 1932.

Hall s experiences in World War I and defending ...

Article

The son of former slaves, Harry Haywood moved with his family from Nebraska to Minneapolis, which he left to fight in the 370th Infantry in France during World War I. Settling in Chicago, Illinois in the early 1920s, Haywood supported himself as a bootblack, busboy, and bellboy. He was recruited into the African Blood Brotherhood, a secret Black Nationalist organization, as well as into the Young Workers League, both associated with the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA).

Haywood was a leading proponent of Black Nationalism, self-determination, and the idea that American blacks are a colonized people who should organize themselves into a nation. From 1926 to 1930, Haywood studied in the Soviet Union, where he met several anticolonial revolutionaries, including Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh. On his return to the U.S. in 1931 he was chosen to head the Communist Party s Negro Department ...

Article

Larvester Gaither

major organizer and theoretician of the Communist International. Though Harry Haywood's parents, Harriet and Haywood Hall, were born into slavery, they had migrated to South Omaha, Nebraska, by the time he was born. When Harry was fifteen, his father, a meatpacker, was attacked by a white mob and the family was forced to leave Nebraska; they moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and eventually settled in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1917 Haywood entered the U.S. Army, and as a member of the Illinois 370th Infantry he set sail for France in April 1918. The year Haywood returned home to Chicago from the war, 1919, the city was engulfed in a bloody race riot. Such experiences radicalized Haywood, and after a brief stint with the African Blood Brotherhood he joined the Young Communist League in 1923.

He joined the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) in 1925 and moved ...

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Charles H. Martin

Communist organizer and political prisoner, was born in the tiny southern Ohio town of Wyoming, the son of Paul Herndon, a coal miner. His mother, Harriet, was of a mixed-race background and worked as a domestic. According to an early version of Herndon's autobiography, his name was recorded in the family Bible as Eugene Angelo Braxton Herndon. During Herndon's youth, the family experienced poverty, which grew worse after his father died. Fundamentalist Christianity helped family members endure such hard times, and at the age of nine Herndon underwent a deep religious experience and joined a local church. Shortly after he turned thirteen, Herndon and an older brother left home for Kentucky, where they worked in a coal mine for a while before heading farther south to Alabama.

Over the next several years Herndon found employment at various construction and mining sites in the Birmingham area though ...

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Leila Kamali

Historian, editor, and political activist born on 10 December 1921 near Johannesburg, the child of Latvian Jews. Hirson was educated at Hebrew school in Johannesburg, and studied mathematics at the University of Witwatersrand, where he later worked as a physicist. In 1940 he joined the left‐wing Hashomer Hatzair, subsequently becoming a member of various Trotskyist groups. Between 1944 and 1946 he was a political organizer for the Workers' International League.

Hirson participated in setting up black trade unions, in extremely difficult conditions created by the Suppression of Communism Act. He became involved in the Non‐European Unity Movement, and in the late 1950s joined the Congress of Democrats, the white arm of the ANC‐led Congress Alliance.

After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 Hirson and his colleagues highly critical of the Congress Alliance s leadership and policies organized the National Committee for Liberation which advocated sabotage as a substitute for peaceful ...