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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 ...

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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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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 ...

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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 ...

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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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Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

was born Louis-Marie Dantès Bellegarde in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 18 May 1877. His parents were Marie Boisson, a seamstress, and Jean-Louis Bellegarde, the director of the botanical gardens of the School of Medicine. He married Cecile Savain in 1902 and had seven children (Auguste, Argentine, Jeanne, Marie, Simone, Fernande, and Jean). Two of his five daughters, Marie and Fernande, were founding members of Haiti’s first women’s movement in the early 1930s. These daughters followed in the footsteps of Bellegarde’s aunt, Argentine Bellegarde, a well-known feminist educator and a major influence on the life of young Dantès.

Bellegarde took it as an omen that he was born on the day of the creation of the Haitian flag in 1803 He lived all his life in the neighborhood of Lalue then a middle class area near the National Palace His family on both sides had become poor though they had ...

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Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

Dantès Bellegarde was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1877. His family had long been at the center of Haitian politics. Bellegarde's mother was Marie Boisson and his father Jean-Louis Bellegarde. His maternal great-grandfather, Jacques Ignace Fresnel, was named judge by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution, who became the first leader of the independent state in 1804 and soon proclaimed himself Emperor Jean-Jacques I. This same great-grandfather was later minister of justice under President Jean-Pierre Boyer, who ruled all of Haiti from 1820 to 1843. Bellegarde's paternal grandfather, Jean-Louis de Bellegarde, was a duke and marshal in Haiti's second empire during the rule of Faustin Soulouque, who declared himself emperor and ruled from 1847 to 1859. Bellegarde's aunt, Argentine Bellegarde (1842–1901), was a noted educator and an early feminist. Bellegarde married Cécile Savain (1875–1965 ...

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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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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 ...

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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 ...

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David Alvin Canton

journalist and historian, 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 owner, sold Robert to a Georgia slaveholder. Raised by his mother, John lived in Maryland until 1861, when Union troops marching through Maryland freed him and his mother, taking them to Washington, D.C., where John lived until 1892. In 1865 John's mother worked as a domestic in Stratford, Connecticut, where her son received his early education in an integrated school. One year later they returned to Washington, D.C., where John continued his education. Although he did not complete high school, he enrolled in a course at Howard University in 1872. John married Lucy Pinkwood, an opera singer from Washington, D.C. In 1895 he married Florence Adelaide Bishop, with whom he had one child.

Bruce began ...

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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

clerk, farmer, historian, and scion of several chiefly Kaonde lineages was born in Chimimono in present-day northwestern Zambia in 1899. The title chibanza, first held by Jilundu's father, Kunaka Mwanza (d.1916), was brought into being when Kunaka inherited one of the names of Kasongo Chibanza, his mother's maternal uncle. Muyange (d.1901), Jilundu's mother, was a daughter of Kamimbi, son of Kabambala, holder of the kasempa title until his assassination in around 1880. Muyange's mother was Lubanjika, sister of Nsule, holder of the bufuku title. The history of these titles and his defense of their prerogatives were to dominate Jilundu's later life. By 1912 or 1913 Jilundu had moved to the center of his mother's matrilineage, the village of Nsule Bufuku, and enrolled in the South Africa General Mission's (SAGM) newly established Lalafuta boarding school. In 1916 Kunaka Mwanza Chibanza died and was succeeded ...

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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 ...

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Jeremy Rich

politician and historian of the Ivory Coast, was born on 13 March 1935 in the southern Ivorian town of Bingerville. In her youth, Dagri-Diabaté attended primary schools in the Ivory Coast and finished her secondary education in Senegal. She then earned a doctorate in history from the University of Paris IV–Sorbonne.

After she completed her doctorate, she became a history professor at the University of Abidjan in the capital of the Ivory Coast in 1968 and remained there until 1995. Dagri-Diabaté was a founding member of the Association of African Historians. From 1974 to 1975, she served on the editorial board of the historical journal Afrika Zamani and was the head researcher at the Foundation Félix Houphouët-Boigny from 1976 to 1980. During this time, she wrote a number of studies on the experiences of African women and on precolonial and colonial African history. Her first book, La ...

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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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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 ...

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Blanche Radford Curry

educator, scholar, and activist, was born Helen Gray Edmonds in Lawrenceville, Virginia, the eldest of four children of John Edmonds, a plasterer and bricklayer, and Ann Williams Edmonds. Her parents inspired and instilled the importance of higher education in Edmonds and her siblings. Edmonds said of her parents that had they been knowledgeable about French history, they would have quoted Napoleon's famous quip, “There are no Alps,” a metaphor for the many challenges the family faced living in the Jim Crow South. Edmonds was educated at St. Paul's Elementary and High schools located on the campus of St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Virginia. She earned her AB degree in History from Morgan State College in 1933. In 1938 Edmonds received her MA in History and in 1946 her PhD in History from Ohio State University She completed postdoctoral research at the University of ...

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Haggai Erlich

Egyptian politician and historian, succeeded Mustafa Kamil in 1908 as the leader of al-Hizb al-Watani, the Nationalist Party, Egypt’s more activist anti-British movement in the pre–World War I period. Though the party, established in late 1907, was quickly losing momentum, and though he remained overshadowed by the memory of Kamil’s charisma, Farid went down in history as a keeper of Kamil’s ideological legacy and as a leader in his own right.

Muhammad Farid was born on 20 January 1868 to a wealthy family of Ottoman-Turkish origin, which had settled in Egypt when it was annexed to the empire in the early sixteenth century. His father was an administrator in Muhammad ʿAli’s educational system and then, during the years of Khedive Ismaʿil, a director in the Khedival Railway Department. In 1877 following European intervention in Egypt s economy he was fired a humiliating experience young Farid never forgot Moreover ...