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John C. Gruesser

Born a slave in Maryland, John Edward Bruce grew up in Washington, D.C. Developing an interest in journalism, he worked as a general helper in the office of the Washington correspondent for the New York Times in 1874. By the time Bruce was twenty he was writing for newspapers, using the pen name “Rising Sun”, and in 1879 he started his own paper, the Argus, in Washington, D.C. In 1884 Bruce began writing under the name “Bruce Grit” in the Cleveland Gazette and the New York Age, eventually becoming one of the most widely read and influential African American journalists of his era. In his writings and speeches, Bruce decried mixed-race marriages, denounced Euro-American imperialism, aggressively promoted race pride and solidarity, championed self-help, and advocated the study of black history to combat the anti-Negro rhetoric of the post-Reconstruction period.

Bruce served as a conduit linking people ...


Frances Richardson Keller

Cooper, Anna Julia Haywood (1858?–27 February 1964), author, educator, and human rights activist, was born, probably on 10 August 1858, in Raleigh, North Carolina, the daughter of Hannah Stanley, a slave. Though her paternity is uncertain, she believed her mother’s master, Dr. Fabius J. Haywood, to have been her father. She later described her ancestry: “The part of my ancestors that did not come over in the Mayflower in 1620 arrived … a year earlier in the fateful Dutch trader that put in at Jamestown in 1619… . I believe that the third source of my individual stream comes … from the vanishing Red Men, which … make[s] me a genuine F.F.A. (First Family of America).”

In 1867 Anna entered the new St Augustine School in Raleigh Because there were then few teachers for African American pupils she became a student teacher at age nine Functioning ...


Sondra O’Neale

Jupiter Hammon gave birth to formal African American literature with the publication of An Evening Thought, Salvation, by Christ, with Penitential Cries (1760). Hammon was born on 17 October 1711 at the Lloyd plantation in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. He was almost fifty years old when he published his first poem, “Salvation Comes by Christ Alone,” on 25 December 1760.

Hammon was a slave to the wealthy Lloyd family. It is evident that he received some education, and he was entrusted with the family's local savings and worked as a clerk in their business. There is no record of his having a wife or child.

By the time he was eighty, Hammon had published at least three other poems— “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatly [sic], Ethiopian Poetess”, “A Poem for Children with Thoughts of Death”, and A Dialogue Entitled the Kind ...


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 ...


Ernest Emenyonu

Nigerian scholar, administrator, educator, publisher, novelist, playwright, and essayist, was born Promise Ogochukwu Onwudiwe in Enugu, Nigeria, on 16 July 1970. Her father, P. D. I. Onwudiwe, was a civil servant who worked in the Ministry of Education. Her mother, Janet, worked as a schoolteacher. Under her married name, Promise Okekwe, she published extensively in virtually every genre for two decades. Divorced in 2008, she changed her name to Ogochukwu Promise, using it both in remarriage and her writings. This extremely prolific writer and artist settled down in Lagos, Nigeria, with her family, including a daughter, Angel Ogochukwu-Promise. Her earliest works were published under her maiden name, Promise Ogochukwu Onwudiwe (Soul-Journey into the Night [1992]; Marry Me to the Rain God [1993]), but occasionally she wrote under a pen name, Ada Iloekunanwa (Rubble [2000]; The Street Beggars [2001]).

Okekwe was educated at Queens High School Enugu Nigeria ...


Charles E. Wilson

James William Charles Pennington was born into slavery on the eastern shore of Maryland. At the age of four, he, his brother, and his mother were given to the son of his master, who moved to Washington County in the western part of the state. In his slave narrative, The Fugitive Blacksmith, or Events in the History of James W. C. Pennington (1849), Pennington is particularly attentive to the effects of slavery on black children. Using the special abuses (lack of consistent parental attention, abusive white children, and brutal overseers) that slave children must endure as a gambit for his narrative, Pennington charted his development into an activist minister who witnessed, through word and deed, against slavery in the South and racism in the North.

Pennington escaped slavery in 1828 The next year he moved to Long Island where he pursued an education in night school Between ...


Peter Hinks

radical abolitionist and political writer, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, the son probably of a free black woman and possibly of a slave father. Almost nothing is known about either parent; only a little more is known about Walker's years in the South. Walker was born in a town where by 1800 African Americans predominated demographically over whites by more than two to one. Their influence on the town and the region was profound. Most labor—skilled or unskilled—was performed by black slaves who were the foundation of the region's key industries: naval stores production, lumbering, rice cultivation, building construction, and shipping. The Methodist church in Wilmington was largely the creation of the local black faithful. The skill and resourcefulness of the African Americans amid their enslavement deeply impressed Walker.

Sometime between 1815 and 1820 Walker left Wilmington and made the short journey south to Charleston South Carolina He ...


Charles Rosenberg

pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago (1915–1940), president of the National Baptist Convention from 1922 until his death in 1940, and president of Victory Mutual Life Insurance Co., was born in Eufala, Barbour County, Alabama, to Levi Shorter and Elizabeth Hill. His parents had previously been enslaved on opposite sides of the Alabama–Georgia state line. Williams, whose father adopted that surname as a new family name after marrying Hill, moved in 1877 with his family to Brazos Bottom, Texas, where his father saw better economic opportunity.

Converted and baptized in 1884 at Thankful Baptist Church, which numbered his parents among its founders, he was awarded a second-grade certificate in 1890, authorizing him to teach in public schools of Burleson County. He taught at River Lane School, eventually becoming the principal; on 16 August 1894 he married Georgia Lewis one of his former ...