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Jeffrey A. Fortin

The idea of Africa changed dramatically from antiquity to the era of European exploration and colonization; European and African views of each other continually transformed as a result of the evolving nature of their interaction. The Atlantic slave trade, perhaps the most significant event in the history of Africa, forever changed the manner in which Africans and Europeans intermingled. Perceptions of Africa were fluid, shifting according to geographic, economic, political, racial, and religious factors stemming from within as well as outside the continent. By 1830 the most broadly held notion of Africa had transformed from one of reverence, by the peoples of antiquity, to one of contempt and apprehension, by early modern Europeans. For Africans in the diaspora, the land of their ancestors' birth remained a symbol of guidance, hope, and spirituality.


Frank A. Salamone

Africa has meant many different things to many different people. The word “Africa” may have come from a Greek word meaning “without cold” or from a Latin reference to the “land of the Afri,” probably a Berber tribe. There is also a similar Latin word meaning “warm.” Whatever the origin of the word itself, “Africa” has certain meanings for African Americans and other meanings for white Americans. Within each of these groups, of course, there are many subdivisions, ranging along the entire spectrum of political and cultural opinions.

For some time, it was common for Europeans and white Americans to refer to Africa as the Dark Continent, with a derogatory connotation. The word “Africa” carried with it the meaning of lack of civilization, intellect, and sophistication. As Dorothy Hammond and Alta Jablow observe in The Myth of Africa the West defined Africa as that which the West was not ...


John Herschel Barnhill

The African diaspora is the movement of people of African descent to other parts of the world; participants in the diaspora are diasporans. Struggle and resistance and the impulse to freedom inform the African diasporan memory, religion, and culture. The transatlantic African diaspora began in the fifteenth century. Earlier, Africans had moved individually and voluntarily to the Middle East, Europe, and Asia; their descendants merged with the dominant population, and only their DNA showed their African ancestry. The 1 to 11 million northern and eastern Africans taken by the Arab slave trade to Islamic countries in Asia and the Middle East intermarried, blended, and left only their DNA as physical evidence. The transatlantic slave trade relocated 10 to 12 million Africans, too many for the white populations of the Americas to absorb, particularly given the nature of the slavery and the assumptions underlying it.


The urban uprisings of the late 1960s in the United States brought together black intellectuals and the urban masses, producing a new generation of militant organizations. The 1970s witnessed a resurgence of Pan-Africanism in the Black Power movement. A key group dedicated to the civil rights movement in the United States and the liberation struggle in Africa, the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC), was a united front of black nationalist, Pan-Africanist, and Marxist groups.

At a 1963 meeting, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) declared 25 May African Liberation Day (ALD). In 1971, the African American educator Owusu Saduakai Howard Fuller led a delegation of black nationalists to Africa They met with leaders of the fight against Portuguese colonialism in Angola Guinea Bissau and Mozambique Upon the group s return Saduakai announced the establishment of the African Liberation Day Coordinating Committee whose purpose was to generate support among ...


Joseph Wilson and David Addams

Afrocentricity is a concept that blossomed in the late twentieth century and was derived from the intellectual movement with the same name. Although Molefi Asante, the former chairman of the Department of African American Studies at Temple University—the first doctoral-degree-granting department of its kind—is most closely identified with Afrocentricity, the Afrocentricity movement is also closely identified with Maulana Karenga, the founder of Kwanzaa, a widely observed African American cultural holiday that occurs in late December. Afrocentricity is an intellectual outgrowth of a number of concepts: black nationalism, most commonly associated with Marcus Garvey of the Universal Negro Improvement Association Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad s and Louis Farrakhan s Nation of Islam Négritude the cultural ideology of Blackness originated by the Senegalese president Léopold Sédar Senghor Pan Africanism with its goal of promoting the political and economic unity of Africa and people of African descent an ...



Courtney Q. Shah

Scientists have debated the origins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) since they first recognized them in 1981 when clusters of homosexual men in California and New York were found to have suppressed immune systems. Since then HIV has become pandemic, affecting all segments of the population in every corner of the globe. Scientists believe that the disease originated in Cameroon, where a related virus called simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) has been found in chimpanzees. The theory is that SIV jumped from chimpanzees to humans sometime in the twentieth century. A retrospective study of preserved blood samples done in 1998 confirmed that the earliest known case of HIV was in a Congolese man who died in 1959.

AIDS was first labeled gay related immune deficiency GRID by the U S government s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC The earliest studies in ...


L. Diane Barnes

Founded in December 1816, the American Colonization Society (ACS) was the first national organization to take on the problem of slavery in the United States. The ACS proposed an expatriation scheme to rid the nation of slavery and of free African Americans. The prominent founders Charles Fenton Mercer, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and others secured federal funding and in 1822 founded the colony of Liberia on Africa's west coast as the destination for America's blacks.

Even before the founding of the ACS, the colonization of African Americans was an issue that divided both whites and blacks. Some African Americans supported colonization, arguing that free blacks would never be fully included in the white-dominated society of the United States. Others argued just as forcibly that blacks were entitled to full rights as American citizens and should remain to fight on behalf of their race.

The ACS drew ...


Jeremy Rich

was born in the state of Delaware in the United States in 1833. Not much is available about Anderson’s early life. He was from a free black family and was a barber in Burlington, New Jersey, prior to moving to Africa. Barbering was a prosperous occupation for African Americans before the Civil War. He belonged to the Episcopal Church. In 1853 Anderson moved to the Liberian capital of Monrovia. He soon became a planter. His uncle J. M. Richardson of New York had established an agricultural concession. When Richardson drowned, Anderson inherited the plantation.

Like other aspiring Americo-Liberian entrepreneurs in the mid-nineteenth century, Anderson moved out of Monrovia to establish his agriculture ventures up the Saint Paul River. He wrote an article in 1863 that provided an overview of his successful operation Relying on steam mills to process raw sugar cane Anderson s primary customers were in the ...


Joseph Wilson and David Addams

The term “antiapartheid” describes the concept of opposition to the racially oppressive apartheid government in South Africa—from the passage of the first apartheid laws in 1948 to the abolition of apartheid in 1994 and the global movement that developed to express and act on that opposition Apartheid was a social and political structure of racial hierarchy and segregation imposed by the brutal military and police state dictatorship of a minority white government in a predominantly black nation Black South Africans had struggled against the European colonization of their land by the British Empire and against the military and economic domination of the native people by white settlers of Dutch and British origin from the outset in the seventeenth century Nevertheless the promulgation of apartheid or the doctrine of apartness in the language of the Afrikaaners or descendants of the Dutch settlers was an acceleration of a preexisting racism that ...


Jesse Benjamin

Africa is the second-largest continent on earth and home to the longest continuous human occupations. It is the site of both hominid and human origins and the location of perhaps the earliest known Neolithic civilizational social complexes as well. Although most modern historical accounts have downplayed Africa and Africans, a wide range of research and evidence from across the social and physical sciences has overturned such omissions and begun to restore Africa to its proper place in the annals of human history. Many longentrenched theories have been called into question or become the subject of vociferous debate as the result of new evidence.


Margaret Wade-Lewis

linguist educator early computer language translator Africanist scholar of Arabic and Berber was born in Wildwood New Jersey to Joseph Henry Applegate and Nancy Berkley Applegate His father was a second generation New Jersey resident whose father was a Native American from Maine Applegate s mother whose father was also Native American migrated from Virginia to Philadelphia where Applegate s parents met around the time of World War I Neither parent had more than an elementary school education Hardworking and ambitious they held high aspirations for their children Applegate and his sister enjoyed the advantages of a small town working class upbringing along with direct contact with black artists and entertainers who frequented the seaside summer boarding house their parents operated in Wildwood New Jersey Although the family was not affluent Applegate s environment was sophisticated and urbane He recalled awakening to the sounds of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington ...


Daniel Douglas

(b. 14 August 1942), scholar. One of the foremost contemporary scholars in the field of African American studies, Asante was born Arthur Lee Smith Jr. in Valdosta, Georgia, one of sixteen children of Arthur Lee Smith and Lillie Smith. In 1964 he graduated cum laude from Oklahoma Christian University with a BA in communications. The next year he earned his MA, also in communications, from Pepperdine University. Three years later, in 1968, he earned his PhD in communications from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

After spending a year at Purdue University, Asante returned to UCLA as a faculty member. With the 1969 publication of his first major work, Rhetoric of Black Revolution he was named director of the university s Center for Afro American Studies He helped create the African American Library at UCLA and helped establish its MA program in Afro ...


The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) is the world's oldest learned society dedicated to the promotion, research, preservation, interpretation, and dissemination of information about the life, history, and culture of Africans, African Americans, and the African diaspora. Founded in Chicago on 8 September 1915 as the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History by Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950) and four other people, the association was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia on 3 October 1915. Its stated purposes were to collect sociological and historical data, to publish books on Negro life and history, to promote the study of the Negro through clubs and schools, and to bring about harmony between the races by interpreting the one to the other.

In the beginning the association had very little moral or financial support and its longevity must be ...

Primary Source

Henry McNeal Turner 1834 1915 a prominent bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church AME became attracted by the idea of black Americans returning to Africa at a time when the civil rights gains of the Reconstruction Era were slowly being chipped away replaced with Jim Crow policies that would continue for almost a century Turner had lived an active life before his appointment as bishop in 1880 After serving as a pastor in several communities he became a chaplain in the Civil War and participated in nine battles Following the war he organized for the Republican Party and was elected to the Georgia state legislature When the Democrats voted to expel all black members Turner responded with a powerful speech on the floor of the legislature rebuking the racist decision Although Congress restored the seats Turner lost the election of 1870 due to rampant voter fraud by his opponents ...


Charles Orson Cook

African “Pygmy” who was put on display at the Bronx Zoo. In 1904, the white missionary Samuel Phillips Verner brought Ota Benga whose freedom he had purchased with a bribe to Belgian Congo officials and seven other Congolese Pygmies to the Saint Louis World s Fair as part of an ethnological exhibit of primitive peoples which included among others the Native American Apache chief Geronimo Verner s agreement with the World s Fair required him to bring several Africans and as much of their village intact as possible He actually brought fewer tribesmen than his contract required and many fewer artifacts but the exhibit was one of the most popular attractions at the fair The Africans were the objects of constant public attention and they also drew the interest of professional and academic ethnologists who measured the physical and mental characteristics of the Pygmies concluding that they were ...


Karen Backstein

dancer, choreographer, and educator, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to a theatrical and musical family. One of New York's most superb and demanding jazz teachers, as well as an excellent choreographer, Benjamin began his career at the age of four, studying with Elma Lewis at her well-respected School of Fine Arts. Two years later, he started studying ballet, a requirement for all of Lewis's students, no matter which style they chose to focus on. When peer pressure led Benjamin to stop dancing briefly—a not uncommon situation for young male dancers—he shifted to acting, taking classes at Boston Children's Theatre. Two years later he returned to Lewis's school and found something new: George Howard, a teacher of Haitian dance. Still a child, Benjamin knew instantly that “that's the thing I wanted to do, with the drums and everything. It was so exciting to me” (Hall, 3).

Lewis ...


Jeffrey O. Ogbar and Jeffrey O. G.

Black nationalism is the belief system that endorses the creation of a black nation state It also supports the establishment of black controlled institutions to meet the political social educational economic and spiritual needs of black people independent of nonblacks Celebration of African ancestry and territorial separatism are essential components of black nationalism Though not fully developed into a cogent system of beliefs the impulse of black nationalism finds its earliest expression in the resistance of enslaved Africans to the Atlantic slave trade from the sixteenth century Various groups of Africans who felt no particular organic connection as black people were forced into a new racialized identity in a brutal and dehumanizing process of enslavement The transportation and forced amalgamation of hundreds of different African nationalities resulted in Creolized communities in the Americas enslaved Africans revolted and established new societies which functioned autonomously on the outskirts of colonial towns and ...


Ronald Eniclerico

Founded by the black leader Marcus Garvey, the Black Star Line was projected to be a group of transatlantic ocean liners that would help achieve Garvey's dream of repatriating blacks to Africa. Garvey conceived the company as a complement to the British White Star Line of luxurious cruise ships. The Black Star Line's first ship, Yarmouth, was active between 1919 and 1922.

Born in Jamaica in 1887, Garvey was a labor organizer when he was in his teens. He left Jamaica in 1910 and traveled throughout Central America and Europe, eventually forming the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which called for blacks throughout the world to return to Africa. Garvey moved to the United States in 1916, settling in Harlem, New York, where he founded a string of businesses, including the successful newspaper the Negro World.

In 1919 Garvey began calling for blacks ...


Claudine Michel

Black studies and its variants, African American studies, Afro-American studies, African and African American studies, Africana studies, Pan- African studies, diaspora studies, or the more recent Africology, Africa New World studies, and black women diaspora studies, have emerged since the 1960s as full-fledged academic departments in colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. Black studies is the systematic study of the knowledge, thoughts, and modes of being of African people in both their current and historical manifestations. It intersects various methodologies and perspectives; its unit of analysis is the black world, but it also engages white hegemonic powers and their history of exclusion and dominance. Reviewed here are its historical lineages and stages of development as well as the directions and trends of contemporary scholarship.


Boyd Childress

professional basketball player and humanitarian activist, was born in Gogrial, Sudan. Born to Madut and Okwok Bol, his father was a herder in the Sudan. Legend has it that Bol, who shared this task, once killed a lion with a spear while tending the family's cattle. Members of the Dinka tribe, noteworthy for their height, Bol's parents were tall—his mother was 6 feet 10 inches. Bol grew to an extraordinary 7 feet 7 inches. When he was a teenager with such height, a cousin suggested he take up basketball. Playing for a team in the larger city of Wau and later in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, Bol was discovered by Don Feeley, a coach from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. He came to the United States in 1983 and although he weighed only 180 pounds and lacked athleticism Bol was drafted by the then ...