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John Garst

“steel-driving man” and legendary hero, may have been a historic person born a slave in Mississippi, Virginia, or some other Southern state. In ballad and legend he is simply “John Henry,” but “John Henry” is a common combination of given names, so Henry may not have been his surname.

Songs about John Henry were collected as early as 1905. In 1916 the former West Virginia governor W.-A. MacCorkle confused him with John Hardy, an African American gambler and murderer who was hanged in Welch, West Virginia, in 1894 and is the subject of his own ballad. By the mid-1920s the ballad “John Henry” was being recorded commercially by Riley Puckett (1924), Fiddlin' John Carson (1924), and other white “hillbilly” performers, and shortly thereafter recordings by such African American bluesmen as Henry Thomas (1927) and Mississippi John Hurt (1928 began ...


Erin M. Fehskens

the first and foremost leader of the Windward Maroons of Jamaica, an autonomous community of self-emancipated slaves, was likely born into an Akan group in present-day Ghana. Nanny’s historicity and legendary status blend into one another. To write her biography is to oscillate self-consciously between the past and the present, between history and myth, recording Nanny’s deeds and remarking upon their lasting effects and current retellings.

Dispossessed of her homeland some time around the turn of the eighteenth century she survived the Middle Passage across the Atlantic In the legend that distinguishes Maroons from Jamaicans Nanny and her sister Sekesu arrived in Jamaica Nanny escaped into the mountains establishing the lineage of Maroons Sekesu remained a slave establishing the lineage of Jamaican non Maroons Alongside this mythical arrival in Jamaica a growing consensus among contemporary Maroon leaders argues that she arrived in Jamaica with her brother Kojo Whether he was ...


Stuart Schwartz

Maroon leader also known as Zumbi, lived much of his life in the interior of the captaincy of Pernambuco in an area that is today the Brazilian state of Alagoas. The circumstances of his birth and early life are basically unknown, but those of his later life and death have become a matter of national debate, pride, and legend. In 1978 Brazil declared 20 November to be the Dia Nacional da Consciência Negra (National Day of Black Consciousness), which in 2003 became a holiday commemorating the death of Zumbi of Palmares This date is one of the few secure facts that remain about the last leader of Palmares the largest Maroon community in Brazil His life and death like the history of Palmares itself have been shrouded in myth and controversy but both Zumbi and Palmares have become symbols of Afro Brazilian resistance to slavery and more recently of ...