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Boxing  

Michael Ezra

Perhaps no sport has influenced African American culture and society more than boxing. Long before the sport was formalized, slaves worked as prizefighters, sometimes gaining their freedom if they earned their masters enough money and prestige through their exploits in the ring. The first American to compete for the world heavyweight championship was Bill Richmond, a black man and former slave, who took on and lost to England's Tom Cribb in 1805. The former slave Tom Molineaux, who gained his emancipation through pugilism, also challenged Cribb for the crown, losing bouts in 1810 and 1811. Long before their official participation in other professional sports, African Americans were making their mark in the prize ring.

Although boxing was the most popular spectator sport in the United States from the late 1840s until the Civil War blacks were excluded from the big money contests that captured the public ...

Article

Robert Stepto

professor of English, poet, and essayist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Sterling Nelson Brown, a minister and divinity school professor, and Adelaide Allen. After graduating as valedictorian from Dunbar High School in 1918, Brown matriculated at Williams College, where he studied French and English literature and won the Graves Prize for an essay on Molière and Shakespeare. He graduated from Williams in 1922 with Phi Beta Kappa honors and a Clark fellowship for graduate studies in English at Harvard University. Once at Harvard, Brown studied with Bliss Perry and, most notably, with George Lyman Kittredge the distinguished scholar of Shakespeare and the ballad Kittredge s example as a scholar of both formal and vernacular forms of literature doubtlessly encouraged Brown to contemplate a similar professorial career though for Brown the focus would be less on the British Isles than on the United States and on ...

Article

Highly regarded for her science-fiction novels and short stories, Octavia Butler was born in Pasadena, California. A shy and dyslexic child, Butler was raised in Pasadena and attended John Muir High School. She then studied for two years at Pasadena City College before completing additional coursework at California State College and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Butler read avidly as a youth and began writing short works of fiction at the age of ten. Her first novel, Patternmaster, was published in 1976 as part of a series that includes Mind of My Mind (1977), Survivor (1978), Wild Seed (1980), and Clay's Ark (1984). Though best known for her novels, Butler has won awards for her short stories, including a Hugo for “Speech Sounds” (1983) and both a Hugo and a Nebula for “Blood-Child” (1984 ...

Article

Alice Ross and Mark H. Zanger

The Caribbean influence on American food has been continual for hundreds of years, initially in coastal areas of similar climate, from Texas to the Carolinas. The early Spanish involvement in the Caribbean brought Caribbean foods to Europe and Africa, from whence they quickly returned to North America. Spanish gold shipments attracted other Europeans to the area and brought about the colonization of eastern North America. Cheap Caribbean sugar, coffee, cocoa, and spices have influenced the palates and tables of all Americans. The peoples of the Caribbean islands have developed multicultural cuisines that have been affecting American cooking at all levels since colonial times.

Influence of the Caribbean on contemporary American food may predate Columbus, because there is some possibility that Caribbean Indians reached Florida and introduced tropical tubers, or chilies. The chain of influence began in 1492 as the varieties of maize beans chilies squash peanuts and cassava collected ...

Article

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was the most well-known African American of the nineteenth century. His legacy as an antislavery and human rights activist persists well into the twenty-first century. During his lifetime, Douglass embodied the famed self-made man. Beginning his life at the very bottom of American society, Douglass became a celebrated abolitionist and humanitarian, a somewhat less successful bank president, and a Republican politician. Although his antebellum era activities are the most well known, after 1865 Douglass held office as marshal and later recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia. In 1889 he became the second African American appointed as U.S. minister to Haiti. Because he was an eloquent writer and orator, he gained much public attention during his lifetime and provided subsequent generations with a chance to better know and understand him.

Born on a Talbot County, Maryland, plantation in February 1818 Douglass spent his ...

Article

Mary C. Carruth

Although Angelina Weld Grimké's writings appeared in many leading publications of the Harlem Renaissance, such as Alain Locke's The New Negro (1925), Countee Cullen's Caroling Dusk (1927), and Charles S. Johnson's Ebony and Topaz (1927), she was not a highly visible member of the literary movement, perhaps because of her retiring personality. The product of a biracial marriage, Grimké grew up in the progressive, aristocratic society of old Boston. Named for her white great-aunt, Angelina Grimké Weld, the famous abolitionist and advocate of women's rights, young Angelina was reared by her devoted but demanding father, Archibald Grimké, the son of Charleston aristocrat Henry Grimké, and his slave, Nancy Weston. Angelina's white mother, Sarah Stanley Grimké separated from her father in Angelina s early childhood presumably because of mental and physical illness Angelina s family background informed ...

Article

Jon-Christian Suggs

Between 1880 and the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910, African Americans lived through a time of increasing oppression and disenfranchisement, a time that the black sociologist Rayford Logan called “the Nadir.” Nevertheless, African American literature regained some of its antebellum vitality during this time, moving gradually away from the autobiographical narrative and toward a wider range of literary and cultural production.

Article

Sika Alaine Dagbovie

Black/white mixed-race women have been alternately praised and defiled in American racial discourse, literature, and film. For centuries in the United States, black people were classified according to the amount of their “black blood.” This “one-drop rule” emerged from the South, constructing social and legal definitions of who was black. Quadroon and octoroon described someone who was one-fourth black and one-eighth black, respectively. The term mulatto (mulatta, feminine) originates from the Latin word mulus meaning mule and from the Spanish word for young mule The word was originally used for someone who was the offspring of a pure negro and a pure white During and after slavery most whites thought that mulattoes were intellectually superior to and more attractive than pure blacks while simultaneously classifying them as hopelessly confused and psychologically unstable So called scientists compared mulattoes to mules claiming that mixed race people could not procreate ...

Article

Anthony Edwards

An essential tool for researchers and historians, oral histories are powerful instruments that preserve the past and give voice to marginalized groups, among them African American women. As a methodological process, oral history transcends academic disciplines and constitutes a multifaceted approach not only to preserving an individual’s spoken recollections but also to providing an enduring and lively memory of the past. While written records have traditionally afforded only the most educated and affluent an opportunity to shape their own histories, the uneducated and the poor are often denied that chance. Oral records reshape and redefine the methodological approach, blurring class lines and equalizing the contributions and influences of even the most marginalized.

Article

María de Lourdes Ghidoli

of his family since slavery, was born in the city of La Plata in the province of Buenos Aires in 1928. He was the son of Tomás Nemesio Platero, a historian of African descent, and Ana Francisca Prola, of Italian descent, who had five other children: Ana María, Rodolfo, Sara, María Isabel, Susana and Carmen. He was also the grandchild of Tomás Braulio Platero, a prestigious notary and one of the first African-descended people to obtain a university degree in Argentina. At the end of the 1950s Platero married his first wife, Dalila Manganiello. From this first marriage he had at least three children, two of whom survived him. His second wife, Marta Susana Gutiérrez, died in 2008 and was the library director of the Central Bank of the Republic of Argentina.

For the Platero family it was essential that their sons and daughters attend university This emphasis ...

Article

The black press did not become established until the early nineteenth century in Latin America and the Caribbean. This was due to the oppressive system of slavery and to extremely high illiteracy rates. Indeed, learning to read and write was a punishable offense under some slave codes. Even after abolition, blacks and mulattoes (persons of African and European descent) encountered numerous obstacles to opportunities that involved writing, such as exclusion from higher education. Many of the most celebrated early black poets and journalists were largely self-taught. Those who did publish before the nineteenth century—notably Rosa María Egipcíaca da Vera Cruz in Brazil and José Manuel Valdés in Peru—were exceptions to the rule.

Materials published by the black community during the nineteenth century included abolitionist pamphlets chapbooks newspapers and periodicals During most of the century romanticism was the predominant literary ethos and poetry was the genre of choice in newspapers ...

Article

Mason I. Lowance

Slave narratives written by women occupy a special place in the long history of antebellum slave narration because female slaves suffered additional burdens based on gender. As the emancipated slave Harriet Jacobs noted, those qualities of beauty and femininity long honored in all cultures became a special curse for the female slave, because these attributes often led to sexual abuse by slave owners and overseers and male slaves. In Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), this problem is examined in several episodes in which a vulnerable female slave is forced into sexual relationships with men. These incidents, related by Cassy in Chapter XXXIV, “The Quadroon’s Story,” can be considered a slave narrative in microcosm, one that exhibits the essential characteristics of the slave narrative genre. And in Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of an American Slave (1845 a young and attractive female ...

Article

John Martin Taylor

The South is often defined as the eleven states that lie south of the Potomac River, or those of the Confederacy (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee), but many inhabitants of Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, and Oklahoma consider themselves southerners because of shared history and culture if not geography. Though not separated from the rest of the country by dramatic natural borders, the South has, from its beginnings, been a separate region that is divided into several geographical areas with distinct histories. As the population of the South increases at twice the national rate, mostly from interstate immigration, the region no longer resembles the mid-twentieth-century South with its shared bond of the Confederacy.

The distinctive regions within the South include the Tidewater of Virginia and North Carolina the low country Atlantic coastal plain of South Carolina Georgia and northeastern Florida the ...