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Dominique Achille

was born to Marguerite Raymonne Ferdinand and Philéas Gustave Louis Achille on 31 August 1909 in Fort-de-France, Martinique, then a French colony. His father was the first man of color who passed “agrégation” (the highest teaching diploma in France) in the English language in 1905. Achille’s family history can be traced back to slaves who were freed in 1794. He spent his childhood and teenage years in Martinique, in an upper-middle-class family.

In 1926 he began studying English at Louis-le-Grand High School and at the Sorbonne in Paris, where Georges Pompidou and Léopold Sedar Senghor were among his peers. In the 1930s he contributed to La Revue du Monde Noir The Review of the Black World issued in Paris by his cousins Paulette and Jane Nardal This publication addressed cultural links between colored writers poets and thinkers through the world because at that time no specific review ...

Article

Nigerian writer, also known as Catherine Obianuju Acholonu-Olumba, was born on 26 October 1951 in Orlu of Igbo parentage. The daughter of Chief Lazarus Emejuru Olumba and Josephine Olumba of Umuokwara Village in the town of Orlu in Imo State, southeastern Nigeria, she obtained her early education at local primary and secondary schools in Orlu. At age seventeen, in an arranged marriage, she became the wife of Douglas Acholonu, a surgeon then living in Germany, by whom she had four children: Ifunanya, Nneka, Chidozie, and Kelechi. In 1974 she registered as a student of English and American language and literature and Germanic linguistics at the University of Dusseldorf and earned a master’s degree in her chosen field in 1977.

Upon returning to Nigeria in 1980, she accepted a teaching appointment at Alvan Ikoku College of Education in Owerri. While teaching, Acholonu was also writing her PhD dissertation. In 1982 ...

Article

Adeyemi Bukola Oyeniyi

pioneering historian of Africa, was born on 26 May 1929 in Ikole-Ekiti, southwestern Nigeria. He had his early education at Saint Paul’s School, Ikole-Ekiti and Ekiti Central School, where he later taught as a pupil teacher. He proceeded to Igbobi College, Lagos, and later to University College, Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan), as a foundation student in 1948. In 1951 Ade Ajayi obtained his BA Honors degree in general history, Latin, and English. In 1952 he took another BA Honors degree in history at Leicester University, in England, which he completed in 1955 with first class honors. In 1958 Ade Ajayi completed his doctorate degree at the University of London where he was one of the first African doctoral students of the eminent historian of Africa Roland Oliver He then returned to Nigeria to join the history department at the University of Ibadan as a lecturer grade ...

Article

Adeyemi Bukola Oyeniyi

Nigerian scholar, professor of African history at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was born on 22 November 1937 in Ihube, Okigwe, in present-day Imo State, southeastern Nigeria. He had his early education at Methodist Central School, Ihube, Okigwe, between 1944 and 1950 and won the Okigwe Native Administration scholarship, which enabled him to attend St. Augustine’s Grammar School, Nkwerre Orlu, in Imo State between 1951 and 1956 With a scholarship from the government of Eastern Nigeria he proceeded to the University College Ibadan now University of Ibadan Ibadan to study history Afigbo graduated at the top of his class and therefore won the University of Ibadan postgraduate scholarships which enabled him to study and complete his doctorate degree also a first among his colleagues among whom were Obaro Ikime and Philip Igbafe Afigbo thus became the first person to receive a doctoral degree in history from a Nigerian university ...

Article

Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán was born and received his primary and secondary schooling in Veracruz, where there was a strong African influence, before studying medicine in Mexico City. In the 1920s and 1930s intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos undertook pioneering studies of Indians in Mexico, whose culture and history had largely been viewed with disdain until then. The studies resurrected a degree of interest in and dignity for Indian heritage. Although Vasconcelos argued that much of indigenous culture should be subsumed in a larger Mexican culture, Aguirre Beltrán believed that indigenous cultures were worthy of study for their own sake. After graduating from the University of Mexico with a medical degree, Aguirre Beltrán returned to Veracruz, where he held a post in public health that further sparked his interest in Indian ethnicity and history. In 1940 he published two studies on the ethnohistory of colonial and precolonial Indians in ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Beninese political leader and historian, was born sometime in the late nineteenth century into a powerful Wegbaja family. His family claimed descent from Glele, the powerful ruler of the Dahomey Kingdom in the late nineteenth century.

Despite his important role in colonial politics and anthropological research in Benin from the 1930s until the 1950s, little published work sheds light on his early background. Aho served in the French military as a young man and spoke and wrote fluently in French. He probably received his primary and secondary education in Benin. Aho’s entrance into politics came during the turbulent 1920s and early 1930s. Benin, known under French rule as the colony of Dahomey, became home to a small but very vocal movement of Western-educated African urban elites who called for improved legal and political rights for coastal Beninese elites. From the turn of the twentieth century to 1945 ...

Article

Curtis Jacobs

was born Geraldine Molly Leotaud on 29 May 1933, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, into a mixed-race, middle-class, single-parent, devoutly Roman Catholic family. Her mother, however, was also a keeper of Shango religion, a legacy of the Yoruba peoples brought to Trinidad during the African slave trade.

She grew up in a hybrid cultural milieu of Christianity and Yoruba religious tradition (called “Ifa” today). She later recalled her early life as a Roman Catholic, with its elaborate ceremonies, and her love of participation in them, when she was allowed to carry the censer. Beginning in her teens, she was an avid student of dance, and met Beryl McBurnie, founder of the Little Carib Theatre, which first opened at Port-of-Spain in 1947. McBurnie, herself a dancer of some repute, was very interested in the traditional dances of the descendants of the formerly enslaved Africans. From 1952 to 1965 Molly ...

Article

was born on 28 July 1942 to Charles Albert and Rosa Batista on a batey (sugarcane worker community) in Guaymate, La Romana Province, Dominican Republic. Albert’s father was from St. Kitts and Nevis, while her mother was a Dominican from Santiago de los Caballeros who later moved to La Romana, where they met and married. Charles Albert was a member of the so-called cocolo community, a somewhat pejorative term for blacks from the English-speaking Caribbean who settled in the Dominican Republic.

Born, raised, and educated on a batey, where living conditions were often deplorable and educational opportunities were limited and often difficult to obtain, Albert overcame many challenges and completed her primary and secondary education. Upon the death of her father in 1958 she the eldest child had to work to help support her family while attending school Her first professional job was as an elementary school teacher ...

Article

Desha Osborne

was born on 10 February 1932 in Lagon Mahoe, Mayaro, in southeastern Trinidad to Nathaniel and Eva Anthony. In 1936 Anthony’s family moved to Post Office Hill, also in Mayaro. In 1942 Nathaniel died from heart disease, and a year later Anthony was sent to live and attend school in San Fernando, where he lived for one year. In 1944 he returned to San Fernando to study at the Junior Technical School. These early experiences with the declining health and eventual death of his father, and a year spent in San Fernando, would serve as the inspiration for various plot elements found in his first three novels. In 1946 he apprenticed at Trinidad Leaseholds Ltd., which later became part of Texaco Inc., where he trained as a molder, subsequently finding employment in an iron foundry at the Pointe-à-Pierre oil refinery. Starting in 1952 Anthony began submitting poetry to the ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Robert N. Anderson

was born on 10 November 1954 in the town of Nanuque, Minas Gerais state, Brazil. It was there that, as an adolescent, he discovered world cinema in the city’s movie theaters and frequented his uncle’s theater company. He later moved to the state capital of Belo Horizonte, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in sociology of education, all the while maintaining his connection with the local film club scene. He moved to São Paulo in 1984, where he later became a doctor of philosophy in communication science at the School of Communication and Art of the University of São Paulo (ECA/USP).

Araújo began his filmmaking career with the mid-length docudrama Memórias de classe (Class Memories, 1989 exploring the role of Afro Brazilians in São Paulo s labor movement This debut effort won the Ford ANPOCS Film Festival award for best screenplay The ...

Article

Robert J. Cottrol

was born in Salvador, Bahia, on 22 December 1948. His scholarship chronicled Afro-Brazilian life, especially the experiences of people of African descent in his native Bahia, a state in northeastern Brazil with a strong Afro-Brazilian presence. Araújo’s political activism began with acts of resistance against Brazil’s military rulers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, while he was a university student, and would continue into the twenty-first century with his advocacy for measures such as affirmative action and reparations designed to eliminate the often striking racial inequalities in the South American nation.

Araújo’s curiosity about slavery and race developed early in his childhood, due in part to the presence of his great aunt Zefinha, who had been born a slave. In her eighties in the 1950s when Araújo was a child, Zefinha was in her teens when Brazil abolished slavery in 1888 The great aunt fascinated the future ...

Article

Adeyemi Bukola Oyeniyi

Nigerian historian and educational administrator, was born to Samuel Akindeji Fajembola, an Ibadan man, and Mosebolatan Fajembola, an Ijesa woman, on 28 January 1933 in Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria. Samuel Akindeji Fajembola was a manager with John Holt & Co., a merchant company, based in Liverpool, England; Mosebolatan Fajembola was one of the first female professional teachers to be trained in southwestern Nigeria. Awe had her early education at Holy Trinity School, Omofe, Ilesa; Saint James’s School, Oke-Bola, Ibadan; C.M.S Girls’ School, Lagos; and Saint Anne’s School, Ibadan, between 1941 and 1951. Between 1952 and 1954, she attended the Perse School for Girls in Cambridge, England, and received an MA from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1958. Between 1958 and 1960 she did postgraduate work for a doctoral degree at Somerville College the oldest of the University of Oxford s female colleges She was ...

Article

Christopher Wise

Malian diplomat, ethnographer, devout Muslim, and defender of traditional African culture, was born in 1901 in Bandiagara, Mali, capital of the Toucouleur Empire of the Macina Fulani, which was founded by the Tidjaniya jihadist al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal. At the time of Bâ’s birth, the French had been in control of Bandiagara for nearly a decade. His father, Hampâté, a Fulani militant from Fakala, died two years after Bâ was born. His mother, Kadidja Pâté, was the daughter of Pâté Poullou, a close personal companion of al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal. After her husband’s death, Kadidja remarried Tidjani Amadou Ali Thiam, a Toucouleur Fulani and Louta chief, who became Bâ’s adoptive father. At an early age, Bâ became intimate with Tierno Bokar Tall, the renowned “sage of Bandiagara,” who was his lifelong teacher, spiritual guide, and personal mentor. In 1912 Bâ was enrolled in the French colonialist School of the Hostages remaining ...

Article

Richard Watts

Amadou Hampaté Bâ was born in the town of Bandiagara, approximately 500 km (300 mi) northeast of Bamako, Mali, and belonged to an important family of Marabouts (Muslim religious leaders). Bâ’s father died when he was two years old, and he was adopted and raised by a chief in the region. Educated at French schools in Bandiagara and Djenné, about 200 km (124 mi) from Bandiagara, Bâ nonetheless managed to continue his traditional Islamic education with famed Islamic teacher Tierno Bokar, a man whose wisdom Bâ later immortalized in Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar (The Life and Teachings of Tierno Bokar, 1980 It was also at this time that Bâ encountered Kullel a storyteller and traditional educator who gave Bâ his first lessons in the African oral tradition Bâ later earned the nickname Amkullel Little Kullel and he honored his teacher by titling the first volume ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

As a performer, composer, and scholar of ethnic music, Susana Baca has become a leading expert on Afro-Peruvian musical traditions. Since the 1960s she has explored the distinctive rhythms, tempos, and instruments of the small but influential Afro-Peruvian community that has lived in relative isolation for nearly 500 years along the Pacific Ocean coast of Peru. Her research led to the path-breaking 1995 album The Soul of Black Peru, which presented Afro-Peruvian music to an international audience for the first time.

Baca leads a generation of musicians who interpret the Afro-Peruvian traditions first explored in the 1950s by the renowned ethnomusicologist Nicomedes Santa Cruz. Her performances use Afro-Peruvian rhythms that date back to the seventeenth century, as well as native instruments such as the Andean panpipes and the cajon a wooden box which when rhythmically struck with the hand produces a variety of unusual timbres Baca ...

Article

Meghan Elisabeth Healy

liberal historian and politician active in South Africa, was born Violet Margaret Livingstone Hodgson on 11 January 1894 in Glasgow, Scotland. Her father, John Hodgson, emigrated to the Orange Free State, South Africa, shortly after Margaret’s birth, working as a merchant while Margaret’s mother, Lillias, raised their three young children in Scotland. After fighting against the British with the Irish Brigade in the Anglo-Boer War, John Hodgson went to the Atlantic island of Saint Helena as a prisoner of war. When war ended in 1902, officials repatriated him, but he was ostracized in his community. Six months after his return, he illegally boarded a ship bound for Port Elizabeth, where he worked as a bookkeeper. In 1904, John Hodgson’s family joined him in the Cape. He harbored liberal political beliefs, supporting legal equality and the extension of a nonracial franchise in southern Africa.

After attending the Holy Rosary ...

Article

Theodore Cohen

was born in the town of Hopelchén, Campeche, on 7 January 1892 to Francisco José Baqueiro and Teodosía Fóster. Probably of Mayan and not of African descent, he was a relative of the famous nineteenth-century Yucatecan musician Chan Chil (Cirilio Baqueiro Prevé). Baqueiro Fóster attended primary school in Hopelchén before moving to Mérida, Yucatán, to continue his education. He learned to play the guitar, mandolin, violin, oboe, and flute, his instrument of choice. In 1921 he moved to Mexico City, and the following year he enrolled at the National Conservatory, where he studied with the renowned musical theorist Julián Carrillo. He later married Eloisa Ruiz Carvalho (1925–1980), a music critic and educator.

Baqueiro Fóster began to make a name for himself during Mexico’s First National Congress of Music in 1926 With fellow Carrillo disciple Daniel Castañeda he argued that Mexican composers could study indigenous music more accurately ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

politician, business leader, and historian, was born in the late nineteenth century in Burundi. He belonged to the Batare royal family that had controlled Burundi prior to the entrance of German military officers in the 1890s. He originally came from southern Burundi as his father was a chief in the Vyanda region not far from the town of Bururi. He received a primary education at a German school at Gitega. After the Belgian government took over Burundi following World War I, Baranyanka became one of the most fervent supporters of the new administration in the entire colony. He was a firm supporter of Catholic missions and the development of cash-crop production. Baranyanka converted to Catholicism after undertaking instruction for four years. He established an extremely large coffee business that consisted of thirty-five thousand coffee bushes by 1935. A young Belgian tourist in 1949 expressed the views of most ...

Article

Carmen Rosario

was born on 4 July 1897 in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, one of twelve children of José Celso Barbosa, among the most prominent Puerto Rican politicians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Belen Sanchez. Pilar received her primary and secondary education in her hometown, where early on she was immersed in politics. Her father, a black man who graduated first in his class at the University of Michigan, was a leader of the autonomist movement that demanded autonomy for Puerto Rico from the Spanish government at the end of the nineteenth century as well as the founder of the Partido Republicano (Republican Party) in 1899, which advocated statehood for Puerto Rico following the American invasion of the island the prior year. After graduating from high school, Pilar attended the University of Puerto Rico. While still an undergraduate, in 1921 she became the first woman and certainly ...