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Islamic scholar and historian from present-day Mauritania. His name is also spelled Sidi Ahmed ould al-Amin al-Shinqiti. The nisba (name extension indicating place of origin) al-Shinqiti does not refer to the town Chinguetti (Shinqit), but was given to him during his stay in the Arab world. All bidan (Moors) going abroad to the Arab world have the nisba al-Shiniqiti added to their names, no matter from which region or town of the so-called Bilad Shinqit (“The lands of Chinguetti”; present-day Mauritania, Western Sahara, and the Azawad region in northern Mali) they come from. In the Arab world they are generally called shanaqita and their country is known as Bilad Shinqit, even if locally different names were circulating in precolonial times.

Ahmad was born around 1863 64 in the Gibla region of what is today southwestern Mauritania Trarza and belonged to a scholarly family He was from one of the Idaw ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

Delilah Isontium Beasley was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Margaret and Daniel Beasley. She began her career in journalism by writing for the Cleveland Gazette at age twelve; by age fifteen she had a regular column in the Sunday Cincinnati Enquirer. Following the death of her parents while she was still a teenager, Beasley looked for another full-time job to support herself, and she pursued a career as a trained masseuse. But when she followed a client to California in 1910, she resumed her original interest in journalism.

Beasley wrote a weekly column for the Sunday Oakland Tribune called “Activities Among Negroes” for the next twenty years. She spoke out against Racial Stereotypes and discrimination throughout her career. One of her most significant contributions to journalism was her campaign to stop the use of derogatory terms, such as darky and nigger to refer to African ...

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Kristal Brent Zook

journalist and historian of the early West, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the eldest of five children of Daniel Beasley, an engineer, and Margaret (Heines) Beasley, a homemaker. Although little is known about her childhood, at the age of twelve Beasley published her first writings in the black-owned newspaper, the Cleveland Gazette. By the time she was fifteen she was working as a columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, becoming the first African American woman to write for a mainstream newspaper on a regular basis.

Beasley lost both parents as a teenager and was forced to take a full-time job working as a domestic laborer for the family of a white judge named Hagan. Her career then took several unusual turns as Beasley, who was described by biographer Lorraine Crouchett as short well proportioned and speaking in a shrill light voice perhaps because of a chronic hearing ...

Article

historian, Egyptologist, educator, and Pan-Africanist, known popularly as “Dr. Ben,” was born in Gondar, Ethiopia, the son of Krstan ben Jochannan, a lawyer and diplomat, and Tulia Matta, a native of Puerto Rico, who was a homemaker and midwife. Both parents were Jewish: his father was a member of a Jewish Ethiopian people then called the “Falasha,” or Beta Israel, and his mother was descended from Spanish Sephardic Jews. The couple met in Madrid, Spain, where Matta was attending college and the elder ben Jochannan was a diplomatic attaché. Soon after their marriage, they traveled from Spain to Ethiopia where their son, Yosef, was born.

Ben Jochannan spent his earliest years in Ethiopia but after age five he was raised in the Americas He said in later interviews that in the 1920s the Ethiopian government sent his father to Brazil to help develop the coffee trade of that country ...

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Donald Altschiller

historian, author, and university professor, was born in Clinton, Alabama, to Ed Walton and Alice Blakely, sharecroppers. When Blakely was young his mother moved north to secure better employment, and he was raised by a great aunt in the coal‐mining town of Preco, near Birmingham. In 1946 his mother returned to Alabama and moved him and his older sister to Oregon, where Alice Blakely had worked as a seamstress and in the Portland shipyards during World War II.

An avid reader since his early years, Blakely particularly enjoyed Russian literature and studied the Russian language in both high school and college. His interest in revolutions and popular democracy further stimulated his interest in Russian history. He received a BA from the University of Oregon in 1962 where he majored in history and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa He also graduated as a Distinguished Military Graduate in the ...

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Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor

historian of African Americans in South Dakota, civic leader, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, was born in Yankton, South Dakota, the youngest of eleven children of Henry and Mary (Fristoe) Blakey. The large, extended Blakey clan began migrating from Missouri to South Dakota in 1904, where they acquired land and built a profitable and respected truck gardening business. Young Blakey completed eighth grade in country school and worked in the family business. Beginning in the mid‐1960s Blakey returned to school at Springfield State College (which later closed), where he obtained his GED and completed advanced training in building maintenance and pest control. On 22 October 1948 he married Dorothy Edwards in Athabaska, Alberta, Canada; the couple had three children.

Blakey was an ambitious, self‐taught businessman with a keen interest in civic activities and public service. Of his three successful businesses, Blakey's Janitorial Services, established in 1956 provided jobs for both ...

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Chris Chan

African American history scholar, was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, to Charles E. Blockson and Annie Parker, who preached the importance of learning African American history to him from his earliest youth. Blockson's interest in African American history was sparked when he took umbrage at the racist comments of his fourth‐grade teacher. When his teacher said to him, “Negroes have no history; they are meant only to serve white people,” Blockson vowed to learn as much as possible about black history and to educate both blacks and whites on the effect that people of African descent had on America (Sinnette, Coates, and Battle, 119). His family encouraged him in this pursuit, and he began collecting items connected to black history at the age of ten.

Blockson attended Pennsylvania State University where he was recognized for his outstanding athletic performance in football and track and field He set records for Penn ...

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Hilary Jones

missionary, parish priest, and religious educator, was born in Senegal on 16 April 1814, the same day that Napoleon Bonaparte left France for exile on the Island of Elba. Two years later Britain ended its occupation of Senegal and returned the fortified island territories of Gorée and Saint-Louis to France. The island of Saint-Louis du Sénégal, founded by France in 1659 as a strategic site in the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, gained a reputation as a cosmopolitan Atlantic port city shaped by patterns of intermarriage between African women (Signares) and European administrators, merchants, and soldiers. The son of Marie Monté, a “free mulâtresse,” and Pierre Boilat, member of the merchant marines, David Boilat came from the small but growing class of mixed race inhabitants who closely identified with the Catholic Church and sought the privileges of French education despite their relative isolation from French culture.

In 1816 ...

Article

Elvin Holt

teacher, historian, and folklorist, was born in Goliad, Texas, one of five children of John Henry Brewer, a cattle drover, and Minnie Tate Brewer, a teacher. John Mason grew up with his three sisters, Jewel, Marguerite, Gladys, and his brother Claude in a household that provided a fertile environment for his imagination. His father told exciting stories about his adventures on the cattle drives from the Media Luna Ranch in Texas to the cattle market in Kansas. His mother, a teacher in Texas for over forty years, read the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar to John Mason during his early childhood. As an adult poet, Dr. Brewer would write dialect verse in the manner of Dunbar. Dr. Brewer's love for the oral tradition in African American culture was also nurtured by his grandfathers, Joe Brewer and Pinckney Mitchell, who told him folktales. John Mason ...

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Noralee Frankel

historian, was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, the daughter of Matthew Woods and Evadne Adams, professors. Her maternal grandfather, Lewis Adams, was born a slave and after the Civil War was instrumental in establishing the Tuskegee Normal School in 1881. Her parents both taught at Tuskegee Institute, continuing the family's commitment to education. Letitia attended Tuskegee Institute High School and graduated with a BS from Tuskegee Institute in 1935. In 1937 she completed her MA at Ohio State University. While working on an advanced degree at Radcliffe College, Letitia married Theodore E. Brown, a labor economist who later worked for the Agency for International Development in the U.S. Department of State. After raising two children and becoming involved in community projects in Mount Vernon, New York, she attended Harvard University, which awarded her a PhD in 1966.

As a historian Letitia Woods Brown sought to ...

Article

John C. Gruesser

Born a slave in Maryland, John Edward Bruce grew up in Washington, D.C. Developing an interest in journalism, he worked as a general helper in the office of the Washington correspondent for the New York Times in 1874. By the time Bruce was twenty he was writing for newspapers, using the pen name “Rising Sun”, and in 1879 he started his own paper, the Argus, in Washington, D.C. In 1884 Bruce began writing under the name “Bruce Grit” in the Cleveland Gazette and the New York Age, eventually becoming one of the most widely read and influential African American journalists of his era. In his writings and speeches, Bruce decried mixed-race marriages, denounced Euro-American imperialism, aggressively promoted race pride and solidarity, championed self-help, and advocated the study of black history to combat the anti-Negro rhetoric of the post-Reconstruction period.

Bruce served as a conduit linking people ...

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David Alvin Canton

John Edward Bruce was born in Piscataway, Maryland, the son of Martha Allen Clark and Robert Bruce, who were both enslaved Africans. In 1859Major Harvey Griffin, Robert Bruce's slaveholder, sold him to a Georgia slaveholder. Raised by his mother, Bruce lived in Maryland until 1861 when Union troops marching through Maryland freed him and his mother, taking them to Washington, D.C., where Bruce lived until 1892. In 1865 Bruce's mother worked as a domestic in Stratford, Connecticut, where Bruce received his early education in an integrated school. One year later they returned to Washington, where Bruce continued his education. Although he did not complete high school, he enrolled in a course at Howard University in 1872. Bruce married Lucy Pinkwood, an opera singer from Washington, D.C. They had no children. In 1895 Bruce married Florence Adelaide Bishop with whom he had ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

scholar and colonial official, was born on 23 May 1871 in the town of Moulins in the Allier department of France, to Léon-François Bruel, a doctor and agricultural estate owner from a well-off family, and Françoise Leyrit. Bruel attended the Lycée Théodore de Banville primary school from 1876 to 1888, but excelled only in his study of geography and history, and attended the Lycée Monge secondary school in Paris until 1892. He then took placement examinations to enter the Saint-Cyr military academy and the nearly founded École Coloniale for future colonial administrators. Bruel failed the Saint-Cyr examinations, but passed the École Colonial admissions test. He spent three years at the École Coloniale and graduated in July 1895 Even before he completed his studies Bruel demonstrated an interest in the French territories in central Africa The first article he published examined the Adamoua region of northern ...

Article

Michael Mizell-Nelson

poet, historian, civil rights activist, college instructor, and small businessman, was born in Houma (Mechanicsville), Louisiana, to Emanuel Banks Christian and Rebecca Harris. Christian was born into a family of teachers; both his father and grandfather had taught in rural Louisiana. The latter was a former slave who served as a director of the Lafourche Parish public school system during Reconstruction. Christian's mother died when he was three, and his father, who had tutored him, died ten years later. Little else is known of his early education. He moved with his siblings to New Orleans in 1919, where he worked as a chauffeur before opening his own dry cleaners business. During the 1920s he started writing and publishing poetry, and he studied in the evening division of the New Orleans public school system. The publication of more than a dozen of Christian's poems in Opportunity during the ...

Article

Leslie R. James

was born at Phillipsburg, St. Maarten, in the Dutch West Indies, on 5 May 1841. He was the son of William and Charlotte Chippendale Crogman, both of whom had died by the time he was 14.

The year 1855 proved to be momentous in Crogman’s life. The young orphan was befriended by B. L. Boomer, member of a New England shipping family, who took Crogman to live at his Middleboro, Massachusetts, home where he attended a nearby district school. The same year, Crogman began an eleven-year career as a seaman on one of the Boomer ships through which he gained widespread experience and saved money to further his education. The observations he accumulated through visits to major world ports in Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America broadened his horizons and influenced him immensely.

At the end of his mercantile travels, Crogman entered Massachusetts’s Pierce Academy in 1868 He ...

Article

Stephen Gilroy Hall

John Wesley Cromwell was born a slave in Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of Willis Hodges Cromwell, a ferry operator, and Elizabeth Carney. In 1851 Cromwell's father purchased the family's freedom and moved to West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Cromwell entered the public schools. In 1856 he was admitted to the Preparatory Department of the Institute of Colored Youth. Graduating in 1864, he embarked on a teaching career. He taught in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and in 1865 opened a private school in Portsmouth Virginia Cromwell left teaching temporarily after an assault in which he was shot at and his school burned down He returned to Philadelphia and was employed by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Intellectual Improvement of Colored People Then he served as an agent for the American Missionary Association and went back to Virginia He became active in local politics serving as a ...

Article

Chesya Burke

attorney, politician, and author, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the eldest son of Jacob Henry and Rosalie Davis. When he was eighteen years old he enlisted in the army, advancing to first lieutenant of Company D, Ninth Battalion, Ohio National Guard. In 1904 he attended Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio, but later transferred to Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where he graduated with a law degree in 1908. In 1909, utilizing an 1896 Ohio civil rights law, Davis brought racial discrimination charges against a Burrows store merchant who refused to sell to him. The merchant was found guilty, and though the jury denied Davis damages, he considered this a small victory for the civil rights movement.

Davis spent his entire life in Cleveland, working as an attorney. Realizing his love of history, in 1910 Davis joined a Masonic lodge through which he conducted ...

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Britta Behrendt

was born in Curaçao in 1873. He was born into a white family that was Roman Catholic and part of the local elite, which was dominated by Creole Protestants of Dutch descent. The Protestant elite were the descendants of the former plantation owners, slaveholders, and entrepreneurs, whose influence and power began to rapidly fade in the 1930s—a change in Curaçao society that formed a central aspect of De Pool’s writing.

Unable to fully develop his ambitions on the small island of Curaçao, De Pool traveled and lived in various countries of Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America. Cola Debrot (1985 one of his contemporaries spoke of him as one of the most colorful figures of Curaçao around the turn of the century De Pool was known as an expert on Simón Bolívar and the Spanish American Wars of Independence at the beginning of the nineteenth century ...

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Dorothea Olga McCants

Rodolphe Desdunes was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 15, 1849, the oldest of several children of Jeremiah and Henrietta Desdunes. His mother was a Cuban; his father was a Haitian whose forbears came to New Orleans, presumably during the 1791 revolution in Saint Domingue. Rodolphe Desdunes's education was most probably provided by his parents, friends, colleagues such as Armand Lanusse and Joanni Questy, and attendance at the Bernard Couvent Institute of New Orleans. Both Rodolphe and his brother, poet Pierre A. Desdunes, served as directors of this institute. Desdunes married Mathilde Chaval of Point Coupee Parish and New Orleans. Of this union were born six children, two boys and four girls: Wendell, Daniel, Cortiza, Agens, Lucille, and Jeanne. Their home was at 928 Marais Street, New Orleans.

Desdunes was not inclined toward working on the family s tobacco plantation or in the family ...

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Louis M. Abbey

periodontist, public health specialist, and educator, was born Clifton Orin Dummett in Georgetown, British Guiana (later Guyana), the youngest of four children of Eglantine Annabella Johnson, a homemaker, and Alexander Adolphus Dummett, a pharmacist and registered dentist. Clifton attended St. Phillips Elementary School from 1924 until 1930 and Queen's College high school from 1930 until 1936, both in Georgetown, British Guiana. His values were strongly influenced by his father, mother, and uncle, Reginald Johnson, an Edinburgh-trained public health physician in Georgetown. “I came from a family that believed in the equality of man. I respected all peoples and demanded similar respect from those with whom I came in contact” (personal communication with the author).

Right after high school, in 1936 Alexander Adolphus Dummett obtained a student visa for his son to study in the United States at Howard University in Washington D ...