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Baye Yimam

Ethiopian painter, diplomat, customs director, entrepreneur, linguist, university professor, and novelist, was born in Zage, Gojjam province of Ethiopia, on 10 July 1868. His father, Gebre Iyesus Denke, was a priest serving a local church, and his mother, Fenta Tehun Adego Ayechew, was presumably a housewife. In Zage, then a center of learning, Afewerq learned the painting, poetry, church music, and liturgical dancing of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian tradition.

Afewerq was related to Empress Taytu Betul, wife of Emperor Menilek (1844–1913 on account of which he was brought to the palace to continue what he had started in Zage He was later sent to Italy to further his studies at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti in Turin Upon his return from Italy he began to produce mural paintings by order of the palace and decorated the churches at Entotto then the capital city However he soon ...

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Susan B. Iwanisziw

commercial painter, artist, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only known child of Jeremiah Bowser from Maryland and Rachel Bustill, daughter of the prosperous black abolitionist and educator Cyrus Bustill. The intermarriage among the region's free black Quaker families headed by Cyrus Bustill, Robert Douglass Sr., Jeremiah Bowser, and David Mapps created a dynamic force that benefited all African Americans and particularly spurred David s personal growth and accomplishments Jeremiah a member of the Benezet Philosophical Society served as a steward on the Liverpool lines and later it seems he was the proprietor of an oyster house near the intersection of 4th and Cherry Streets where David Bowser first hung up his sign as a commercial painter Later the Bowser family moved to the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia into a house at 481 North 4th Street where Bowser remained for the ...

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Kimberly Curtis

visual artist, educator, and activist, was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, the second of the seven children of Dana C. Chandler Sr., a longshoreman, and Ruth Chandler. At age five Dana Chandler Jr. and his family moved to Roxbury, Massachusetts, a predominantly African American community. Chandler's parents, who had not attended school beyond the ninth and eleventh grades, raised their children to recognize the importance of completing high school and earning a college degree. Chandler grew up in a poor, working-class family and attended Boston's public schools throughout childhood and adolescence. He received primary and elementary education at the Asa Gray and Sherwin schools. After a six-month hospital stay to treat rheumatic fever, he transferred from Boston Latin School to J.P. Timility Junior High School. At Boston Technical High School his art teachers Ralph Rosenthal and Gunnar Munnick inspired him to become an artist. In 1959 Chandler graduated ...

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David C. Driskell

Edwin A. Harelston was born in Charleston, South Carolina. His father was a seaman, Captain Edwin Guillard Harleston, who became one of Charleston's leading undertakers and died at age seventy-six on April 21, 1931, shortly before his son's death. Edwin Agustus's early education did not prepare him for the career of an artist, even though he expressed interest in art at an early age. Instead he earned a B.A. degree in 1904 from Atlanta University in Georgia where he excelled in several sports From Atlanta he went with the blessings of his family to Harvard University in Massachusetts hoping to become a physician The urge to gain creative expression in the visual arts outweighed his interest in medicine however and he spent seven years studying at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts During his stay in Boston he pursued with distinction the study of anatomy ...

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Mary Anne Boelcskevy

painter and civil rights activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina. “Teddy,” as he was called, was one of six children of Edwin Gailliard Harleston and Louise Moultre. Harleston's father, born in 1852, was one of eight children of the white plantation owner William Harleston and his slave Kate. Edwin Gailliard Harleston had worked as a rice planter but returned to Charleston and his family's Laurel Street home in search of a better living for his-wife and children. There he ran a produce-transporting business for a few years and then brought his nickname “Captain” along when he left boating in 1896 to set up the Harleston Brothers Funeral Home with his brother Robert Harleston a former tailor The segregated funeral business meant they would have no competition from whites Most of Captain s sons were uninterested in joining the business after their uncle Robert left however ...

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Pamela Lee Gray

musician, activist, author, painter, and sculptor, was born Richard Pierce Havens in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of nine children. He grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. His father, Richard Havens, worked as a metal plater and dreamed of becoming a professional pianist, eventually learning to play a number of instruments. Richie's mother Mildred a bookbinder and casual singer at home encouraged her young son when he started singing background vocals at the age of twelve for local groups All kinds of music were played in the Havens home Richie s grandmother listened to Yiddish gospel and big band music his mother enjoyed country music and his father loved jazz He joined the doo wop singing group the Five Chances at age fifteen and performed the next year with the Brooklyn McCrea Gospel Singers a group that sang hymns for neighborhood churches Havens ...

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Lawana Holland-Moore

artist, was born in Los Angeles, California, the younger of two daughters of Lovie Honeywood; information about her father is unavailable. Her regular visits to relatives in rural Progress, Mississippi, and Louisiana would provide a foundation for her artwork, as would the teachers and her close-knit family who encouraged her artistic talent. Her sense of identity was honed in her youth as her family experienced prejudice upon their move into a mixed Los Angeles neighborhood. In the 1960s, she became active in civil rights protest demonstrations and rallies.

Originally aspiring to become a history teacher, Honeywood was a history major at Spelman College before switching to art. Her years at Spelman were influential to her development as a painter. Spelman's all-female atmosphere was nurturing and had a long-standing reputation for producing African American scholars and artists. While there she networked with artist-professors such as Kofi Bailey and Samella ...

Article

Nicola Cooney

Jorge de Lima was the son of José Mateus de Lima, a wealthy businessman, and Delmira Simões Lima. He studied humanities at Maceió, the seaport capital city of Alagoas State, Brazil, and earned a degree in medicine, which he practiced in Maceió and Rio de Janeiro. He went on to become a university professor and local politician in Rio de Janeiro.

Lima's talent for writing emerged at an early age. He published his first poems, including “O Acendedor dos Lampiões” (The Street Lamp Lighters, 1907 in a small literary paper he produced while still in secondary school He spent his childhood living either at the stately house of a sugar plantation or the family s second home in the city These experiences inspired much of his literary work Both his father and his maternal grandfather were white abolitionists who refused to accept slave labor on ...

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Evan Mwangi

is a Kenyan writer, publisher, painter, graphic designer, musician, philosopher, numerologist, and politician. With an extensive canon of over sixty books, David Maillu is undoubtedly East Africa’s most prolific writer, but his works have not been taken seriously by academia, because of the sexual explicitness of the pocket-size, he published himself in the 1970s.

Although the unrecorded date of his birth remains uncertain to him, Maillu has made 19 October 1939 his birthday based on numerological estimation and interviews with his mother Born as what he has described as an extra ordinarily dark child to Mulwa Kioko and Esther Kavuli his father s fifth wife the writer was given the name Maillu which is a derivative of the Kikamba word for black or dark His biological father died when Maillu was very young and Esther Kavuli returned to her parents home before marrying Joseph Mulandi an orphan with ...

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Justin J. Corfield

An Afro-Brazilian scholar and writer, Abdias do Nascimento was born on 14 March 1914 in Franca, in Sao Paulo State, Brazil. His grandparents were slaves from Africa. After slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888, his father worked as a cobbler and musician and his mother made sweets and candy for sale to local children. Abdias Nascimento left school at the age of sixteen and joined the military, but only remained with them for a few years, gaining a discharge on account of disorderly behavior. He then decided to complete his education and in 1938 he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and began a career in the arts.

During his time in Rio de Janeiro Nascimento became involved in a group of poets called Santa Irmandad Orquidea Holy Brotherhood of the Orchid and with them he toured parts of Latin ...

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Aaron Myers

Abdias do Nascimento grew up in Franca, São Paulo, Brazil, where his father was a shoemaker and his mother worked as a sweetmaker, cook, and seamstress. Very early he distinguished himself as an excellent student, and by the age of thirteen he was teaching primary school and working as an accountant for local farmers. Nascimento served in the army from 1930 to 1936, during the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas. At this time Nascimento began his career as a black activist by joining the Frente Negra Brasileira (United Black Front). In 1937, when Vargas established the Estado Novo dictatorship, the Frente Negra was shut down, along with all other political organizations.

Nascimento's first major Afro-Brazilian project was the theater group Teatro Experimental do Negro (TEN), which he founded in 1944 For the next twenty four years he worked as its director and as a playwright Nascimento created ...

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Jean Mutaba Rahier

When Adalberto Ortiz was only three months old, his mother and grandmother abruptly fled the city of Esmeraldas with him to escape from the civil war launched by the Esmeraldian colonel Carlos Concha against the national government in Quito, Ecuador. Leaving Ortiz's father behind, the family found refuge in the city of Guayaquil, where Ortiz's mother joined a convent and the boy grew up with his maternal grandmother. He discovered his father in Esmeraldas when he was eleven years old. Due to family financial constraints, Ortiz had to work at a young age. An assiduous reader, he soon developed a taste for literature. In 1928 he obtained a scholarship to study in the Colegio Normal Juan Montalvo in Quito, which was one of the most exclusive schools in the country. He spent most of his academic holidays in Esmeraldas. He obtained his diploma as a schoolteacher in 1937 ...

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C. M. Winston

artist, curator, art historian, filmmaker, writer, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only child of Howard Pindell and Mildred, both educators. By the age of eight Pindell already aspired to be an artist, and she attended Saturday drawing classes at the Fleischer Art Memorial.

Pindell graduated cum laude with a BFA from Boston University and earned an MFA from Yale University's School of Art and Architecture in 1967. She moved to New York City in 1967 after graduating from Yale and she worked primarily as a painter of nonobjective and figurative works during the early years of her career That year she landed a job at the Museum of Modern Art MoMA as an exhibition assistant in the department of national and international circulating exhibitions At MoMA she rose through the ranks from curatorial assistant to associate curator in ...

Article

African American painter and sculptor. Born in Harlem, Jones studied art at the City College of New York beginning in 1950. By 1955 she had completed her degree in Fine Arts and Education, and had two daughters, Michele Faith Wallace and Barbara Faith Wallace. From 1955 to1973 Ringgold taught in the New York City public schools. She spent many summers in Provincetown, MA, painting landscapes. In 1959 she completed a Masters degree in fine arts at City College of New York. Two years later Ringgold made her first trip to Europe, where she visited museums in Paris, Florence, and Rome. In 1962 she married Burdette Ringgold and began using his name professionally. Her first political paintings, including The American People series (1963–7), were inspired by the writings of James Baldwin and Amiri Baraka (then Leroi Jones) and included the powerful imagery of The Flag Is Bleeding ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

artist and writer, was born Faith Willie Jones at Harlem Hospital in New York City, the youngest of three children of Willi(e) Edell (Posey) and Andrew Louis Jones Sr., a truck driver for the city sanitation department. The Joneses separated in the early 1930s and divorced in 1942, by which time Willi Jones had begun work as a seamstress in the garment district. By the 1950s, using the name Madame Willi Posey, she had established a small dressmaking and design business in Harlem. Faith, who suffered from severe asthma and missed kindergarten and much of first grade because of her illness, enjoyed an especially close relationship with her mother, who organized creative projects to occupy her curious daughter. After graduating from Morris High School (she spent the first three years at George Washington High School) in 1948 Faith Jones began studying art at the City ...

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Painter and sculptor Faith Ringgold has spent her artistic career breaking boundaries and opening opportunities for African American creativity, especially that of women. Born in New York City and raised in Harlem, Ringgold earned a bachelor's degree in art and education in 1955 and a master's of fine arts degree in 1959 from The City College of New York. Dissatisfied with the traditional art training she received in New York and later in Europe, Ringgold studied African art, reading the work of Black Arts Movement authors and participating in the Civil Rights Movement. Paintings from this period—including The Flag Is Bleeding (1967), US Postage Stamp Commemorating the Advent of Black Power (1967) and Die (1967)—blend the geometric shapes and flat perspective of African-inspired artistic traditions with powerful political and social protest.

Ringgold has been an outspoken critic of racial and gender prejudice ...

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Michele M. Humphrey

Faith Ringgold is recognized as one of the leading artists of the twenty-first century. Her work appeared in many major museums around the world and resides in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Faith Jones Ringgold was born in Harlem, New York. She was the third child of Willi Posey Jones, a dressmaker and professional fashion designer, and Andrew Louis Jones Sr., a sanitation worker. She was troubled with asthma at an early age and found herself drawn to art as a way to pass the time. Inspired by her mother’s career and determined to pursue her own dream of becoming an artist, she enrolled at the City College of New York in 1948 Her first social barrier presented itself when she learned that women were not allowed to major in art at the ...

Article

Frank Martin

artist, educator, and community activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Edward Rose Sr. and Mary Marshall. Arthur Rose attended the segregated public schools in Charleston. In 1942 Rose enlisted as a ship serviceman in the U.S. Navy; he served until 1945. A member of Company 1621, 18th Regiment, 28th Battalion of the U.S. Naval Reserve Corps, Rose entered basic training in Chicago and was later stationed at the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, for the duration of the war, and did not see combat. He returned to Charleston and graduated from Burke High School in 1946. He later matriculated at Claflin University, South Carolina's oldest historically black institution of higher learning, established in 1869.

Rose was among the first students in Claflin s history to major in fine arts During his college tenure Rose met and married fellow ...

Article

Luther Brown

artist, illustrator, and activist, was born Dolphus Smith Jr. to Dolphus Smith Sr., a construction worker, and Lottie Hall, a schoolteacher, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dolphus Sr. and Lottie had met and married in their native Georgia and migrated north for better jobs and greater opportunity. Dolphus Jr. was the eldest of their four children: he had two brothers, Ronald Earl (deceased) and Thomas, and a sister, Raziyah.

The family established itself in a working-class community in North Philadelphia, and they took advantage of all that the city had to offer. Lottie, who had been keenly interested in literature and the arts, gave up teaching and devoted herself to her family. She kept abreast of cultural events, poetry (especially the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar and art exhibits that might interest and inspire her children They attended dance performances by the Dance Theatre of ...

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J. Deborah Johnson Sterrett

painter and sculptor, was born in Gloster, Mississippi, the fourth of six children to Reverend James W. Washington, a cabinetmaker and an associate minister at the Gloster Baptist Church, and Lizzie, a homemaker. The birth year for Washington has been reported between 1909 and 1911 Washington made a futile effort to obtain a birth certificate and is reported to have rejected the notion of chronological age In the rural segregated town of Gloster Washington endured poverty unequal education and racially fueled terrorism that propelled him into a lifetime fight for social justice As a boy of six he saw his father under threats from the Ku Klux Klan forced to flee town in the trunk of a white friend s car Wasington never saw him again Without his father Washington forged a greater bond with his mother whom he credits for nurturing his natural talents in the ...