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Jacob Emmanuel Mabe

the first African and black professor and philosopher of the European Enlightenment, was born in the coastal Ghanaian town of Axim. The background of his travel to Europe can only be speculated about. It is only certain that Amo was given over to Herzog Anton Ulrich von Wolfenbuettel-Braunschweig in 1707 as a slave of the Dutch West Indies Company. At that time he could have been eight years old, because he was baptized on 29 July 1708 in Braunschweig. In addition to German, Amo could speak Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Dutch, and English.

In 1727, Amo entered the University of Halle, where he studied philosophy and law. On 28 November 1729, he presented his first disputation, De jure maurorum in Europa (On the Rights of Black Peoples in Europe which unfortunately remains lost In this work Amo acts as an advocate of the equality of all people ...


Michele Valerie Ronnick

classical and modern philologist and university administrator, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to Mary Ann Fennick Davis (1853–1892) and Prince Nelson Davis (1838–1910). After early training at the Avery Normal Institute in his hometown, Davis matriculated at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Upon graduation he taught Greek and Latin at the Howard Academy from 1907 to 1911. In June 1911 he earned his M.A. from the department of Latin at the University of Chicago, with a forty-nine-page thesis titled “The Conditional Sentence in Terence” (1911) on the use of the conditional clause in the work of the African-born playwright Terence (fl. 170 bce). After returning to Howard, Davis served as associate professor of Greek and German from 1913 to 1919 and professor from 1919 on. By 1920 he was teaching courses on Demosthenes and Euripides as well as Goethe Lessing ...


Geoffrey Roper

British topographer, ethnographer, and philologist in Egypt, was born at Hereford, England, on 17 September 1801, the son of the Reverend Theophilus Lane and wife Sophia (née Gardiner). Having rejected higher education at Cambridge, Edward went instead to London in 1819, and learned the craft of engraving. There he developed an interest in Egypt, possibly stimulated by Belzoni’s spectacular exhibition of Egyptian antiquities in 1821. But he also seems to have shared in the excitement aroused about that time by the decipherment of the hieroglyphs by Jean François Champollion and Dr. Thomas Young.

Having already acquired some knowledge of Arabic, Lane embarked for Egypt in 1825. On arrival at Alexandria, he felt like “an Eastern bridegroom, about to lift up the veil of his bride, and to see, for the first time, the features which were to charm, or disappoint, or disgust him” (Lane, 2000 ...


Donna Tyler Hollie

educator, author, editor, and first professional African American classical scholar, was born in Macon, Georgia, the only survivor of three children of Jeremiah Scarborough, a railroad employee, and Frances Gwynn, a slave. His enslaved mother was permitted by her owner, Colonel William de Graffenreid, to live with her emancipated husband. Jeremiah Scarborough was given funds to migrate to the North by his emancipator, who left $3,000 in trust for him should he decide to move to the North. Not wanting to leave his enslaved wife and son, he chose to remain in Macon. According to the Bibb County, Georgia, census of 1870, he had accumulated $3,500 in real property and $300 in personal property.

The Scarboroughs were literate and encouraged their son s academic development They provided a variety of learning experiences for him they apprenticed him to a shoemaker and ...


Aurora Almada e Santos

Cape Verdean poet, writer, and philologist, was one of the leading figures in the modernization of Cape Verdean literature that took place in the early twentieth century. Silva was born on 23 April 1907 in São Nicolau, Cape Verde. He attended elementary and secondary school in Cape Verde and finished the high school in Portugal, where he moved in 1922. His academic training was completed at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon between 1923 and 1928. He also studied philology at the same university from 1926 to 1930. His strong connection to Cape Verde led to his return to the archipelago in 1930, where his training allowed him to teach at the Gil Eanes High School in São Vicente. In 1938, he returned to Portugal for pedagogical training at Pedro Nunes High School and finished his additional studies in 1940 While ...


Mathias Hanses

Howard University professor of five decades, international authority on blacks in the ancient Mediterranean, and “dean” of African American classicists, was born in York County, Virginia, the son of Alice (née Phillips) and Frank Martin Snowden Sr., a War Department employee. The transatlantic turmoil of the 1910s swept the Snowdens from the rural South to Boston, Massachusetts. In 1917, the year the United States entered World War I, they joined increasing numbers of southern blacks who migrated to the brimming industrial centers of the North as military production needs peaked. For the Snowdens, at least, the move to New England was a success. Later in life, Frank Junior did not recall experiencing any discrimination as he grew up in racially diverse Roxbury, Massachusetts.

In 1922 Frank passed the entrance examination to the highly selective Boston Latin School The institution rigorously discarded those whose performance was considered subpar ...


Eric J. Morgan

English philologist and writer, was born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State, then an independent Boer republic in present-day South Africa. Tolkien’s mother and father, Mabel and Arthur, left their home in England after Arthur received a promotion to manage the office of his employer, Lloyd’s Bank, in Bloemfontein. After his birth in 1892, Tolkien lived in the frontier town of Bloemfontein with his family for three years. At one point during his brief childhood stay in South Africa, Tolkien was bitten by a spider in the family’s garden, an event that some critics, despite Tolkien’s claims that he had no memories of the incident, point to as a possible early inspiration for portions of his fictional work, particularly the giant spiders Ungoliant, Shelob, and their descendents in the forests of Mirkwood.

Tolkien left South Africa when he ...