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Robin G. Schulze

and influential critic who strived to reanimate and draw attention to American verse in the early twentieth century. Born and raised in Boston, William Stanley Braithwaite began life in a prosperous, cultured home but, on the death of his father, was forced to quit school at the age of twelve to help support his family. Lacking formal instruction, Braithwaite rigorously educated himself. He eventually found work as a typesetter in a Boston printing firm. Setting poems by John Keats and William Wordsworth, Braithwaite developed a love of lyric poetry that inspired his own writing. He began to publish poems and reviews in the Boston Journal and Transcript and eventually produced his first book of poetry, Lyrics of Life and Love, in 1904, followed by The House of Falling Leaves (1908). In 1906 Braithwaite started his critical career in earnest with a regular feature in ...


Trevor Hall

including the Voyages of Marco Polo, who lived in Lisbon, Portugal from 1494 until his death around 1519. There are no data about his parents, siblings, or wife. He is said to have lived in Seville, prior to settling in Lisbon. His reason for renown is his printing and publication of fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century manuscripts about West Africa, the early Atlantic slave trade, and the first Portuguese maritime expeditions and interactions with black Africans. Although there is no information about Fernandes interacting with the thousands of free and enslaved Africans who lived in Lisbon, he could easily have spoken to Africans if he were so inclined.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Fernandes printed and published his compendium O Manuscrito Valentim Fernandes, containing The Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea by the Portuguese royal chronicler Gomes Eanes de Zurara who described the ...


James A. Miller

editor and literary critic, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Thomas Fuller and Lillie Beatrice Ellafair Thomas. A member of the African American middle class, Fuller was raised in Detroit, Michigan, and came of age against the backdrop of the violent race riots in that city in 1943.

Fuller attended Wayne State University in Detroit, where he received his BA in 1950. As a student, he was deeply influenced by Fred Hart Williams, a historian who specialized in the experiences of blacks in the Michigan-Ontario area and who founded what would later be known as the Hackley Memorial Collection of Black Arts at the Detroit Public Library. Williams introduced Fuller to regional black history and to African history, beginning Fuller's deep and abiding commitment to African affairs.

Fuller worked as a reporter for the Detroit Tribune from 1949 to 1951 and as ...


was born at East Dry River, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad on 28 April 1924. When he was ten, his family relocated to the west Port-of-Spain suburb named New Town close to a place named Calvary Road or “The Big Yard,” at the corner of Tragerete Road and Woodford Street.

New Town in 1934 was mainly populated by the lower classes and characterized by barrack yards, high unemployment, poor housing and sanitary facilities, and crime. A form of musical expression, induced by the colonial ban on the Africans and their descendants from playing drums, was emerging. The first recorded stage of this development was “tamboo-bamboo.”

Aware of tamboo bamboo before New Town Goddard encountered a similar but different type of musical expression musical instruments fashioned out of discarded biscuit and paint drums and automobile hubs the latter of which gave it its distinctive sound and name the steel band His parents ...


Kimberly M. Curtis

historian and activist, was the sixth child born to Willis Hamilton Greene, a teamster, and Harriett Coleman Greene in Ansonia, Connecticut. Lorenzo Johnston Greene attended Ansonia's public schools and participated in his high school's debate team and German club. In 1917 he became Ansonia High School's first African American graduate and the first recipient of the school's History Prize.

After working several jobs to earn money for college, Greene began undergraduate studies in medicine at Howard University in Washington, D.C. During his senior year, however, he enrolled in Greek and English history courses, which inspired him to become a historian. In 1924 he received an AB from Howard and returned to New York City to attend Columbia University's Graduate School. Greene received an MA in history from Columbia in 1926 and continued graduate studies there in pursuit of a PhD in history.

From 1928 to 1933 Greene ...


Hans P. Hahn

The life of Janheinz Jahn was dedicated to the support and dissemination of African literature in German-speaking countries. He was a pioneer in that pursuit—to impart African literature—with restless engagement and consequence. After studying the history of arts and the Arabic language in the 1930s, he was a soldier during World War II and became a prisoner of war. After his release in 1946, he worked as a freelance writer and journalist. Throughout the rest of his life, he never had an academic position and made his living from publishing books.

In 1950 he met Leopold Senghor when the latter was in Frankfurt am Main at the invitation of the Institut Culturel Français This meeting and the conversations with Senghor left such deep and lasting impressions that a short time later Jahn himself started to give public lectures on African literature At the same time he initiated ...


Yvette Walker

poet, essayist, critic, publisher, and educator. Don L. Lee was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was raised in Detroit by his mother, Maxine Lee, who died of a drug overdose when he was sixteen years old. He has attributed his early race consciousness and self-awareness to his upbringing by his mother and his time as an apprentice and curator at the DuSable Museum of African History in Chicago in 1963. Influenced by the poets Amiri Baraka and Gwendolyn Brooks, Don L. Lee emerged as a major literary artist of the 1960s. His formal education includes undergraduate studies at various universities in Chicago and graduate school at the University of Iowa. Lee took a Swahili name, Haki R. Madhubuti, in 1973.

Madhubuti is one of the defining artists of the Black Arts Movement a cultural phenomenon of the 1960s and 1970s ...


Frances Smith Foster

scholar, teacher, editor, and author, was born Nellie Yvonne Reynolds in New York City, the daughter of Harry, a taxi driver, and Nellie Reynolds, a homemaker. Graduating cum laude from Queens College in 1969 with a BA in English, McKay was accepted into the PhD program at Harvard University for British and American Literature.

McKay was part of the first cohort of African American graduate students determined to include the literatures, histories, and religions of African Americans in their research and study. However, McKay often reminisced about Harvard not having any black literature class and how her graduate colleagues taught one another. Not only did they have to teach one another but they also had to create their own bibliographies and share the few extant copies of the books. McKay dedicated her life to filling this void.

In 1973 she began teaching at ...


Alejandro Gortázar

in the first half of the nineteenth century, was born on 15 October 1766 in Rio Grande de San Pedro, a city in Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil). His mother was Juana de Sacramento, a Benguela woman from Angola. His father was Ventura, a Mina Dajome man (from Dahomey, currently Republic of Benin). Molina was born on the ship that brought his family to Brazil to be sold as slaves. His parents married in 1765 in Rio Grande.

Molina’s parents were both personal servants to José de Molina (1707–1782), a Spanish military man who came in 1759 to Banda Oriental with the Cevallos expedition to delimitate the Spanish imperial territory in Banda Oriental. Ventura saved José de Molina’s life in 1765 and was rewarded his freedom in return but he preferred to remain with his master Juana his mother was enslaved in Portuguese territory and became a ...


Lynn Orilla Scott

Among contemporary African-American writers, Ishmael Reed is one of the most innovative, prolific, and controversial. To date he has published nine novels, five collections of poems, four collections of essays, and four plays. He has also authored three television productions, an opera, and a “gospera.” Some of his poetry has been set to music and produced on record. A sampling of his fiction, poetry, and essays has been collected in The Reed Reader (2000). As a teacher, a cultural activist, and especially an editor and publisher, Reed has been an advocate of multiculturalism in American literature since the early 1970s. His experimental work, which draws from myth, history, popular culture, and African-American oral culture, can be classified as “populist postmodernist.” The most characteristic attribute of his work is its aggressive, provocative, and sometimes outrageous humor.


Sarah Buckner

was born in Oakland, California and raised by her mother and stepfather, Janelle and Reginald Jones. She has one younger sister, Raquel, and two step-siblings, Nicole and Keith. Smith shared a particularly close-knit relationship with her younger sister whom she lived with for a good portion of her twenties and whose companionship helped inspire her first novel.

Smith’s love for writing sprouted early on. As a preteen she began to keep a regular journal and in the fifth grade she created The Fifth Grade Daily Arrow a single issue newspaper detailing the goings on of her neighborhood Rookie At ten years old Smith moved to East Los Angeles Although her first few years in Oakland were spent in relatively segregated neighborhoods her new community in East LA was rich in diversity In multiple interviews Smith has credited the multiculturalism of her neighborhood with shaping her thoughts about race and ...


James Jankowski

Egyptian teacher, scholar, and publisher, was born on 2 April 1885 to a peasant family in the village of Kafr Dumayra, Daqahliyya Province. His educational background was unusually diverse. He received his early education at his village kuttab, from which he moved on to study at al-Azhar. While working as a teacher of Arabic at the École des Frères in Khoronfish from 1907 until 1914, he also studied at the new Egyptian University in Cairo and at the Law School in Cairo, from which he received a license in 1912. He later continued his legal studies in Paris, where he received his license en droit in 1925. Fluent in French and Arabic and with experience in both the indigenous and the western educational systems, Zayyat was well situated to serve as a cultural commentator and interpreter.

From 1922 to 1929 Zayyat headed the Arabic Department at ...