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Ariel Bookman

Nigerian novelist, poet, dramatist, educator, and political activist, was born Christopher Uchechukwu Andrew Abani, on 27 December 1966, in Afikpo, Nigeria. Abani’s life has been dramatically shaped but not defined by the political violence associated with the Nigerian state. Born in the Igbo heartland of southeast Nigeria to an Igbo father and British mother, Abani was six months old when the Biafran War began. His mother fled to Britain with him and his siblings, an experience that he would later narrate in poetic form in Daphne’s Lot (2003). Returning to Nigeria after the war, Abani demonstrated precocious literary talent, publishing his first short story at age ten and finishing his first novel, Masters of the Board (1984), at sixteen. The novel, a political thriller, imagines a Nazi plot to return to power by using unwitting Third World governments as its pawns.

Abani was arrested in ...

Article

Ann Biersteker

Kenyan poet, is East Africa’s most renowned contemporary Kiswahili poet, even though he has published only one collection of poetry and one epic poem. He is a political activist and scholar and teaches Swahili at Leipzig University in Germany.

Abdilatif ʿAbdalla was born in 1946 in Mombasa, Kenya. He was raised by his grandfather Ahmad Basheikh bin Hussein, who was a poet and teacher. ʿAbdalla attended primary school in Faza and Takaungu and did secondary studies through the British Tutorial College. He worked briefly as an assistant accountant for the Mombasa City Council. In the late 1960s Abdalla wrote and distributed a political pamphlet, Kenya Twendapi? (Kenya, Where Are We Headed?), in support of the opposition party the Kenya People’s Union (KPU). During the government crackdown on KPU activities, ʿAbdalla was arrested on 20 December 1968 and detained for three years He was held first in Kamiti prison ...

Article

The well-known white Cuban Creole author Cirilo Villaverde (1812–1894) published a first version of Cecilia Valdés in 1839 (thirteen years before Uncle Tom's Cabin, in 1852) at the urging of the abolitionist editor and journalist Domingo del Monte. Del Monte had commissioned the novel to be read at his famous tertulia, social gatherings in Havana, where intellectuals presented works to one another and to supporters who would gather to listen. There was the potential of sending the works to England as part of the 1838 dossier that del Monte was preparing for Richard Madden. Madden was the British representative to the International Tribunal of Justice, which oversaw the ban on slave trading and the protection of freedpeople. The purpose of del Monte's circle of liberal planters and professionals was to embarrass Spain into granting abolition and other reforms including Cuban representation in ...

Article

April Taylor

Born Wesley Cook in Philadelphia, Mumia Abu-Jamal was a political activist from adolescence. At the age of fourteen he was arrested and beaten for demonstrating against segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace. He was a founding member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968 and worked on the party's newspaper in California during the summer of 1970.

Returning to Philadelphia, Abu-Jamal became a radio journalist with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and had his own talk show on station WUHY. He was highly critical of Philadelphia's police department and of the city's “law and order” mayor, Frank Rizzo. He provided coverage of the police treatment of MOVE, a Philadelphia black militant group, which further alienated the authorities. Forced to leave his position as a journalist, Abu-Jamal took a job as a taxi driver.

While Abu Jamal was driving his cab on the ...

Article

Todd Steven Burroughs

radical prison journalist and author. Mumia Abu-Jamal was born Wesley Cook in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a teenager in the 1960s he was attracted to the Black Panther Party (BPP). Cook—christened “Mumia” by one of his high school teachers—helped form the BPP's Philadelphia chapter in spring 1969 and became the chapter's lieutenant of information. He wrote articles for the Black Panther, the party's national newspaper, and traveled to several cities to perform BPP work. He left the party in the fall of 1970 because of the split between Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton.

After attending Goddard College in Plainfield Vermont Cook now calling himself Mumia Abu Jamal the surname is Arabic for father of Jamal Jamal being his firstborn returned to Philadelphia and began a radio broadcasting career in the early 1970s Abu Jamal was part of the first generation of black journalists to become professional newscasters for ...

Article

Mpalive Msiska

Nigerian novelist, was born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe on 15 November 1930 at Saint Simon’s Church, Nneobi, near Ogidi, in British colonial Nigeria. His father, Isaiah Okafo Achebe, was a teacher and evangelist and his mother, Janet Anaenechi Iloeghunam, was from the Awka area of eastern Nigeria. Until the age of five, Achebe was brought up at a church school, where his father taught. When his father went into semiretirement in 1935 in Ogidi, Achebe became a child of two worlds, the modern world and the world of indigenous tradition. He began primary school at Saint Philip’s Central School at Akpakaogwe, Ogidi, moving on to Nekede Central School near Owerri in 1942. Achebe developed into a studious young man, passing entrance examinations for two prestigious secondary schools.

It was at Government College Umuahia which had a good library and extremely able and dedicated teachers that Achebe cultivated his love of ...

Article

Wilbert H. Ahern

John Quincy Adams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Henry Adams, a prominent minister and educator, and Margaret Corbin. Both his parents were free persons of color. Following private schooling in Wisconsin and Ohio, Adams graduated from Oberlin College. After a brief teaching stint in Louisville, in 1870 he followed his uncle, Joseph C. Corbin, to work in Arkansas in the Reconstruction. By 1874 he had risen from schoolteacher to assistant superintendent of public instruction. His lifelong activism in the Republican Party began in Arkansas; there he twice served as secretary to Republican state conventions, was elected as justice of the peace on the party ticket, and held the offices of engrossing clerk of the state senate and deputy commissioner of public works. The defeat of the Arkansas Republican Party in 1874 and the racial repression that followed led Adams to return ...

Article

Michael Niblett

Newspaper first published in Liverpool in April 1903 as the West African Mail. The paper was founded by Edmund Dene Morel (1873–1924). Born in Eastbourne, Sussex, Morel became a journalist and prominent campaigner against colonial abuses in Africa, and played a significant role in the movement against misrule in the Congo. After publishing a series of articles in 1900 on Belgian atrocities in the region, Morel was forced to resign from his job as a clerk in a shipping firm. He subsequently established his own illustrated weekly journal, through which, with total editorial control, he could continue his campaign.

Always insistent upon absolute veracity Morel used his newspaper to publish the many letters and copies of documents sent to him by whistle blowers including damning official reports that revealed how Congolese women and children were being kidnapped and held hostage to compel their husbands to work without ...

Article

Paul Nugent

Newspaper founded in London in November 1914 by John Eldred Taylor, a Sierra Leonean businessman and journalist. In 1911Taylor travelled to London, where he conceived the creation of a magazine to be concerned with West African issues. Three years later he had established the African Telegraph, with himself as editor. During the war, the paper remained loyal to British foreign policy. Once hostilities were over, however, it became a harsh and vocal critic, particularly as regards the treatment of Africa. Taylor formed the Society of Peoples of African Origin, which, with the Telegraph as its official news organ, called for an end to racial discrimination, the promotion of racial unity, and sociopolitical reforms in the colonies. In December 1918 it published an eyewitness account of the public flogging of two naked women in northern Nigeria The officer who sanctioned the punishment Captain Fitzpatrick sued for libel ...

Article

Michael Niblett

The first political journal produced by and for black people ever published in Britain. It was founded in London in July 1912 by the Egyptian‐born Duse Mohamed Ali in partnership with John Eldridge Taylor. From 1883 to 1921Ali lived mainly in Britain. Inspired by the ideas of Pan‐Africanism, he began as a freelance writer, penning a series of anti‐imperialist articles. Following the Universal Race Congress, held in London in 1911, Ali decided to launch his own, militant magazine. As he wrote in the journal's first issue, the Congress had shown the need for ‘a Pan‐Oriental, Pan‐African journal at the seat of the British Empire which would lay the aims, desires, and intentions of the Black, Brown, and Yellow Races—within and without the Empire—at the throne of Caesar’.

Despite limited resources Ali kept the journal alive Aside from its exposure of various colonial injustices for example nude public ...

Article

Anani Dzidzienyo

Afro-Latin America encompasses a broad geographical, cultural, and linguistic area of Latin America—from Brazil in South America to the Caribbean islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola, which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, and Mexico in Central America. There is no agreement among scholars or other observers about which countries may be correctly designated as Afro-Latin American. A generally accepted yardstick emphasizes the presence of people of African descent from the time of the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the present. How many Afro-Latin Americans there are today is a difficult question to answer. Throughout Latin America, definitions of race, color, and origin are extremely varied. In Brazil, for example, the four official racial categories are black, brown (or pardo), yellow, and white. Yet census takers in 1980 counted some 140 terms ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

Afrocubanismo, an expression of Cuba's national identity in the arts, arose during the late 1920s and the 1930s. Afro-Cubanist representatives, such as the composer Amadeo Roldán and the poet Nicolás Guillén, sought to recognize and promote the value of popular black musical, artistic, and literary forms. They also depicted Cuban blacks as central to the Cuban nation and a symbol of exploited Cubans in general. White Creole novelist Alejo Carpentier thus merged Afro-Cuban traditions with European avant-garde literary techniques to decry the social and political marginalization of Afro-Cubans in his first novel, Ecué-Yamba-O (1933). Wifredo Lam, an artist of Afro-Chinese descent, employed cubist techniques in paintings inspired by Afro-Caribbean religions. In their creative work, these artists focused on Cuba's urban black music and culture, which also became a source of inspiration for many middle-class white composers, such as Ernesto Lecuona As a result Afro Cuban ...

Article

Frances Smith Foster

Octavia Victoria Rogers Albert was born in Oglethorpe, Georgia, the daughter of slaves. Details of her life are sketchy. Little is known of her parents or her childhood beyond the date and place of her birth and the fact that she was born into bondage; thus, it is particularly intriguing that in 1870, only five years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery and one year after Atlanta University opened, seventeen-year-old Octavia was among the 170 students enrolled at that institution. Further details of her life are equally sketchy. Most of what we know is culled from information in The House of Bondage, the book that made her famous. From that source we learn that in 1873 she was teaching in Montezuma, Georgia, when she met fellow teacher A. E. P. Albert. They were married in 1874 and had one daughter.

Sometime around 1877 Albert s ...

Article

Christine Matzke

Eritrean lawyer, writer, and researcher, was born on 19 October in the southern Eritrean market town of Adi Quala. His father was Tesfai Gebremichael, a government employee, his mother, Hiwet Tesfabruk, a housewife. Alemseged was the sixth of seven siblings, four boys and three girls. From the age of six he attended various elementary and secondary schools in Eritrea and Ethiopia before matriculating in 1962 from Haile Selassie Secondary School in the Eritrean capital, Asmara. After a nine-month work experience as a junior clerk with Ethiopian Airlines in Asmara (to avoid forced conscription into the Ethiopian military academy), he joined the Faculty of Law at Haile Selassie I University in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, graduating in September 1969 with an LLB (bachelor of laws). Thereafter Alemseged was briefly employed as a legal expert in the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance, a post he left in May 1970 to pursue ...

Article

The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) is a unique document, a classic American autobiography on a remarkable twentieth-century life. Published posthumously, the Autobiography covers Malcolm's life from his childhood in East Lansing, Michigan, through his time as a street hustler, prison inmate, Nation of Islam minister, and finally, independent Muslim minister and black nationalist. As in many autobiographies, the life described is both representative and unique. The work presents a valuable view of an African-American's experience in the urban underworld of the 1930s, and it also tells the story of how a strong, brilliant individual escaped that life and remade himself. Extremely well received by both whites and African Americans, it helped give voice to the emerging black power movement of the 1960s, offered a spectacular example of dedication and accomplishment, and presented an indictment of racism in the United States.

Furthermore, the Autobiography demonstrates the ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanjournalist and nationalist born in Egypt of Egyptian and Sudanese parentage. At the age of 9 or 10 Ali was sent to England to be educated. He never returned to Egypt and spent most of his time between 1883 and 1921 living in Britain. During this period, he was poverty‐stricken, attempting to earn a living through his pen and tour acting. Ali published Land of the Pharaohs in 1911, an anti‐imperialist book that became a significant contribution to the decolonization efforts in the United States and West Africa.

In 1912Ali and John Eldred Taylor, a journalist from Sierra Leone, inaugurated the African Times and Orient Review (1912–20), a magazine that sought to deal with anti‐colonial issues that not merely embraced Pan‐African matters, but incorporated Pan‐Oriental topics as well. The journal was inspired by the Universal Races Congress in London in 1911 which advocated ...

Article

Gerald Early

world champion boxer and political activist, was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky, the eldest of two sons raised by Cassius Clay Sr., a sign painter and something of a frustrated artist, and Odessa Grady, a domestic. Young Clay began to take boxing lessons at the age of twelve because someone had stolen his bicycle and he was determined to exact revenge against the perpetrators. He never discovered who stole his bike, but he did blossom as a young fighter, taking instruction from the Louisville policeman Joe Martin. His brother, Rudolph Arnette Clay (Rudolph Valentino Clay in some sources and later Rahaman Ali), also took up boxing, but, lacking his brother's talent, never became a significant presence in the sport.

Clay became a gym rat feeling that he could succeed in boxing as he never could in school Although he showed no special ability in his ...

Article

Jorge Amado, who wrote more than thirty novels during his career, played a significant role in representing African culture in Brazilian literature. Among his subjects are the blacks of Salvador, in Amado's home state of Bahia, and the African religious rituals that sustain them. Although Amado's approach to Afro-Brazilian traditions is sympathetic and exceptionally detailed, his Bahian novels have met with much controversy. A younger generation of Brazilian and non-Brazilian critics have accused Amado of creating overly exotic portraits of black culture and creating simplistic, class-bound character types.

Amado the son of a plantation owner in Bahia attended a Jesuit college at age 12 However after just one year he rebelled against the strict lifestyle at the school and left to live with his grandfather During the 1930s Amado joined the Brazilian Communist Party and his writings from this period reflect his ideological commitment to communism These works such ...

Article

Emad Abdul-Latif

Egyptian social activist and writer, was born in Alexandria on 1 December 1863 to an Ottoman-Kurdish father, who served as an administrator in Kurdistan before working in the Egyptian army, and an Upper Egyptian mother, the daughter of Ahmed Bek Khattab, who belonged to a prestigious family in Egypt. Amin attended Raʾas Al Tin primary school in Alexandria and high school in Cairo, after which he studied at the School of Law and Administration in Cairo and was there granted his BA degree in 1881. Four years later, he received another degree in Law from the University of Montpellier in France. He worked as a lawyer shortly after his graduation and then traveled on a scholarship to France, where he enrolled in the University of Montpellier. In 1885 he completed his four year study in law with distinction upon returning to Egypt he worked in the judiciary He ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

spent his childhood and early adulthood in Pennsylvania, and may have been born in Philadelphia. Various censuses suggest his year of birth may have been 1818, 1820, or 1824, but a likely 1850 census entry shows his age as thirty-two.

Anderson’s parents have yet to be identified, and little is known about his life growing up in Pennsylvania. Contemporary accounts in California refer to him having worked as a waiter, and a Peter Anderson referenced as mulatto, who worked as a waiter, was recorded in the 1850 federal census living in Philadelphia’s Spruce Ward. Living with him were a woman named Mary Anderson—possibly his wife, or maybe his sister—two boys named Peter and George Anderson, and an unidentified nineteen-year-old named Elizabeth Purnell.

Anderson arrived in California in 1854, as the Gold Rush of 1849 was declining and established a tailor shop described in some directories ...