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Article

Leyla Keough

Diane Abbott, a working-class Cambridge University graduate, made history on June 11, 1987, by becoming the first black female member of the British Parliament. Her outspoken criticism of racism and her commitment to progressive politics have made her a controversial figure in Britain's Labour Party.

Diane Abbott was born in 1953 in the working-class London neighborhood of Paddington. Her mother (a nurse) and father (a welder) had moved there in 1951 from Jamaica. Later they moved to lower-middle-class Harrow, where Abbott was the only black student at the Harrow County School for Girls. Graduating among the top in her class, she applied and was accepted into Newnham College at Cambridge University, despite a high school teacher's comment that attendance there would give her ambitions that were above her social status.

She began work after graduation at the home office a government department responsible for a broad range ...

Article

Ellis Goldberg

Egyptian jurist, government official, and author of one of the most important and controversial books of the twentieth century on Islam and politics, Islam and the Foundations of Governance. This short book, published in 1925, caused a storm of protest, and ʿAbd al-Raziq was arraigned before a jury of Egyptian religious leaders (including the grandfather of the late-twentieth-century al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri) and officially stripped of his status as a religious scholar (ʿalim).

Abd al-Raziq was born in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya to a well-known and relatively well-off family. He studied at Al-Azhar University. Although he was too young to have known the prominent Egyptian ʿalim Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), his work appears to have been influenced by Abduh’s break with prevailing orthodoxy. Abduh was the highest jurisconsult (mufti) in Egypt at the time of his death. In 1915 ʿAbd al Raziq became a ...

Article

On June 12 1993, the popular businessman Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola won a long-awaited presidential election in Nigeria, only to have the country's military leader, Ibrahim Babangida, annul the election results. When Abiola declared himself the country's legitimate leader a year later, Babangida's successor, General Sani Abacha, jailed him for treason. As a political prisoner, Abiola became the rallying symbol for Nigerians’ democratic aspirations.

Abiola was born into a poor, polygamous household of Yoruba-speaking Muslims in the ancient town of Abeokuta None of his parents first twenty two children had survived past infancy so Abiola the twenty third was given the middle name Kashimawo meaning Let s see if he will survive He began his education at the Islamic Nawar Ud Deen School and then transferred to the Christian run African Central School As an indigent student at the Baptist Boys High School Abiola ...

Article

Grantley Herbert Adams was born in Government Hill, Barbados, then a British colony. His father, Fitzherbert Adams, was a black man and the head teacher of one of the island's largest primary schools, Saint Giles. His mother, Rosa Frances Adams, was a coloured woman (of mixed African and European descent). By West Indian standards, the Adams family was part of the lower middle class, removed from the endemic poverty that engulfed the disenfranchised black majority.

Like his father, Adams attended Harrisons College, the colony's premier secondary school. In 1919 he won a prestigious island scholarship to Oxford University in England, where he studied law. In England he met intellectuals from the colonized world, many of whom, like himself, had joined the Fabian Society, a socialist movement that supported decolonization and the end of the British Empire. In 1925 Adams returned to Barbados working as a lawyer ...

Article

Howard Schweber

The phrase affirmative action was first used by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, in an executive order that prohibited federal government contractors from discriminating on the basis of “race, creed, color, or national origin,” and required them “to take affirmative action” to prevent such discrimination. The concept and its primary justification were further developed by President Lyndon Johnson, most famously in a speech at Howard University in 1965 F reedom is not enough You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying Now you are free to go where you want do as you desire and choose the leaders you please You do not take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and liberate him bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say You are free to compete with all the others and still justly ...

Article

Joseph Wilson and David Addams

Affirmative action, a legal and social policy intended to foster equal opportunity in America, accelerated during the political and social ferment in the 1960s as a highly controversial concept and array of programs developed in response to the accumulated and lingering inequality that especially afflicted African Americans.

In a sense, affirmative action can be said to have begun when the idea was put forth in the post–Civil War era that formerly enslaved individuals should be accorded “forty acres and a mule,” that is, given compensation for their years of deprivation in the form of help in starting a new life. Or it could be argued that the executive order issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the eve of World War II which called for steering government contracts away from businesses that chose to discriminate racially gave rise to a form of affirmative action in that these businesses often ...

Article

Paul S. Boyer and Matthew Dallek

The term “affirmative action” first appeared in a legislative context in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act and was later written into state laws prohibiting racial discrimination in employment. But the phrase, implying simply that government agencies should try to prevent discrimination against African Americans, initially attracted little notice. Prior to the 1960s, virtually no one saw affirmative action as a way of giving minorities preferential treatment in hiring, promotions, and admissions.

More than anything else, the civil rights movement helped change the meaning of affirmative action. In 1964, after years of black protest, Congress passed the landmark Civil Rights Act, which among other things created new agencies run by officials eager to bring minorities into the mainstream of American life. By 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act the legal barriers to integration began to crumble and government and civil rights leaders began to ...

Article

For information on

Decolonization: See Colonial Rule; Decolonization in Africa: An Interpretation; Nationalism in Africa; Cold War and Africa.

Independence in French colonies: See Algeria; Front de Libération Nationale; Burkino Faso; Cameroon; Chad; Congo, Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Mauritania; Togo.

Independence in Belgian-controlled colonies and territories: See Congo, Democratic Republic of the; Ethnicity in Rwanda: An Interpretation; Rwanda.

Independence in Portuguese colonies: See Angola; São Tomé and Príncipe.

Independence in British colonies: See Ghana; Kenya; Mau Mau Rebellion; Malawi; Nigeria; Somalia; Swaziland; Tanzania; Zimbabwe.

Politics of newly independent countries: Chad; Organization of African Unity; Warfare in Africa before Independence; Warfare in Africa since Independence.

Article

Kate Tuttle

In the history of South Africa, no group is more identified with the struggle against Apartheid—the system of racial segregation instituted by the country's former white-minority government—than the African National Congress (ANC). Many groups participated in the country's Antiapartheid Movement, but it was the ANC’s Nelson Mandela who, through negotiations with the ruling National Party, finally brought about apartheid's demise. In South Africa's first free elections in 1994, the ANC won the majority of legislative seats and the presidency. From its founding in 1912 by middle class college educated black South Africans the ANC has grown from an interest group to a protest movement and finally to the instrument of freedom for South Africa s black majority Although the organization has undergone periods of considerable internal dissent it has proven capable of compromise and growth and has consistently embraced a vision of equality for ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

During the independence era, some of Africa's most prominent statesmen supported a political philosophy that they labeled African socialism. Among the proponents of this philosophy were Léopold Senghor of Senegal, Sékou Touré of Guinea, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Modibo Keita of Mali. These leaders advocated African socialism as a means of promoting rapid economic development in independent Africa without generating the inequality and injustice characteristic of Western capitalism.

Article

David P. Johnson

As a leader of the largest rebel force in Eritrea's independence struggle, Isaias Afwerki strove to unify peoples of diverse cultures and religious beliefs. Since assuming office, he has been widely praised for his pragmatism and modesty and for maintaining a regime free of corruption. Like Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, and Ethiopia's Meles Zenawi, Afwerki belongs to what has been called Africa's “new generation” of leaders, all of whom are known for their military backgrounds and for their tactical rather than ideological approach to leadership.

Isaias Afwerki was born in Asmara, Eritrea, at a time when the fate of the former Italian colony was in limbo. By the time he graduated from the elite Prince Makonnen Secondary School in Asmara in 1965, Ethiopia had annexed Eritrea, and Eritrean opponents to the despotic rule of Emperor Haile Selassie were preparing for all out warfare ...

Article

Eric Young

Born and raised as a Muslim in the northern administrative center of Garoua, Ahmadou Ahidjo attended secondary school and college in Yaoundé. After working for several years as a radio operator, Ahidjo turned to politics. His 1949 election to the Cameroon representative assembly was followed by election in the 1950s to the territorial and union assemblies. He built a strong power base among the northern elite, composed of Fulbé notables and Hausa merchants. As head of the northern Union Camerounaise (UC), Ahidjo became vice prime minister in the pre-independence coalition government with the Union of the Population of Cameroun (UPC). When the coalition collapsed in 1958, Ahidjo formed a new government, calling for immediate independence while reassuring France that close ties would be maintained.

On the first day of 1960, Cameroon became independent with Ahidjo as president He ruled Cameroon for the next twenty two years Realizing ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

Mohamed Farah Aidid was born in Italian Somaliland and trained in the military in Rome and Moscow. After returning to independent Somalia, Aidid served in the army under General Mohamed Siad Barre. When Siad Barre assumed the presidency in 1969, he appointed Aidid chief of staff of the army. Later that year, however, he began to suspect Aidid's loyalties and imprisoned him without trial for seven years on charges of treasonous conspiracy.

In 1977 Siad Barre released Aidid and welcomed him back to the administration, no doubt seeking his help for the ongoing border war against Ethiopia. The loyalties of Aidid to his former jailer are unclear, but he served Siad Barre's military administration until the late 1980s. In 1989 Aidid broke with Siad Barre and joined the United Somali Congress USC an organization dominated by the Hawiye clan The USC was one of several groups ...

Article

Ebenezer Ayesu

lawyer, chief judge, and president of Ghana, was born at Dodowa in the Greater Accra region of the Gold Cost (now Ghana) on 26 June 1906. His father was William Martin Addo-Danquah of Akropong, Akuapem. His mother was Theodora Amuafi, also from Akropong, Akuapem. After receiving his elementary education at the Presbyterian primary and middle schools at Dodowa, he enrolled in Achimota College in 1929, from where he was awarded scholarship to study mathematics, philosophy, and politics at Saint Peter’s College, Oxford University. Akuffo-Addo was one of the first students at Saint Peter’s College, matriculating in 1930, a year after the college was established. He went on to graduate with honors in philosophy and politics in 1933. He was later made an honorary fellow of the college, and in 1971 he was made a doctor of civil law at Oxford University.

In 1940 Akuffo Addo ...

Article

Alabama  

Wesley Borucki

In 1819 Alabama was the twenty-second state admitted to the Union. Alabama has long been a hub of the African American struggle for civil rights. After the Civil War, the formerly enslaved faced intimidation at the polls despite the assurances of the Alabama supreme court chief justice Elisha Woolsey Peck that the rights promised them in Alabama's 1868 constitution would be enforced. Robert Jefferson Norrell opens his book Reaping the Whirlwind with an account of how the African American Republican state legislator James Alston saw his house fired upon twice; he left Tuskegee in 1870 (pp. 3–4). Even under these hostile circumstances, however, the African Americans Benjamin Turner, James Rapier, and Jeremiah Haralson served in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 1870s.

When Democrats regained control of Alabama's legislature and governorship in 1874 public schools were separate but far from equal As Horace Mann Bond demonstrated ...

Article

Bertis English

Like most historically black colleges and universities in the United States, Alabama State University was created in the wake of the Civil War. In 1865, a convalescing Union soldier from the North began to educate former slaves outside Marion, the county seat of Perry County, in the racially divided and often violent Black Belt subregion of Alabama. The following year, the soldier contacted the Congregationalist-headed American Missionary Association (AMA), whose leaders wanted to found black common schools in several Southern states. Consequently, AMA officials sent an agent and minister from New York named Thomas Steward to the Alabama Black Belt.

Reverend Steward arrived in Perry County in January 1867 By this time several leading blacks and a handful of prominent whites in the county had already tried to erect a black common school in Marion Following their lead Steward created a small school in a partly finished Methodist ...

Primary Source

If the forces of racism and segregation lauded the U.S. Supreme Court's 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson as the final word on the status of black people living in America, their reaction to another Supreme Court holding, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas from 1954 and 1955, was sharply different. After Brown segregationists had only objections to, or excuses for delaying compliance with, or wanted deferrals from the high court's orders. Federally mandated integration plans were either indefinitely stalled or defied outright. Some districts simply closed down their public school systems, adopting instead a system of “private academies” (whites-only, of course), which in some cases forced African American students either to find schools in other states or forgo their educations entirely.

Though the Supreme Court heard numerous cases and issued numerous decrees seeking to ameliorate this situation (notably Griffin v County School Board of Prince Edward County ...

Article

André Willis

Clifford L. Alexander Jr. was born in New York, New York. He graduated from Harvard University in 1955 and Yale Law School in 1958. Alexander worked on a number of community development initiatives in Harlem, New York, before being appointed to a series of political positions in Washington, D.C., in the 1960s and 1970s.

Alexander served as a National Security Council foreign affairs officer under President John F. Kennedy in 1963. He was appointed to three high-ranking advisory positions between 1964 and 1967, including deputy special counsel to the president, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1967 Johnson named Alexander chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), a position he filled until Richard Nixon took office in 1969.

After a brief return to private practice in Washington D C Alexander resumed a role in public life as host and producer of ...

Article

André Willis

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Alexander graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1920 and Harvard Law School in 1923, a time when very few African Americans gained admittance to Ivy League schools. Alexander enjoyed a successful career in private practice, directly challenging racism and discrimination and helping end segregation in a number of Philadelphia institutions, before becoming counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Between 1933 and 1935 Alexander served as president of the National Bar Association and sought a federal appointment. Although the prevailing racial climate made it difficult for him to break into national politics, Alexander was appointed honorary consul to the Republic of Haiti in 1938. He was considered for an ambassadorship to Ethiopia in 1951, but although he had President Truman's support, he was not confirmed. From 1951 to 1958 Alexander committed himself to ...

Article

Sadie Mossell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a prominent black Philadelphia family. Her father, Aaron Mossell, was the first African American to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Her grandfather, Benjamin Tucker Tanner Tanner, edited the first black scholarly journal in the United States, the A.M.E. Church Review.

Mossell received her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1921. She worked as an actuary in North Carolina, then left to marry Raymond Pace Alexander, a graduate of Harvard Law School. With her husband's encouragement, she returned to the University of Pennsylvania, earning her law degree in 1927. The two entered law practice together. Their civil rights work began in 1935 when husband and wife fought to end racial segregation in Philadelphia The Alexanders visited segregated city theaters hotels and restaurants to demand rightful admittance under law and agitated for ...