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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

Kate Tuttle

The son of an Ethiopian father and a mother of French and African descent, Peter Abrahams was considered “Coloured” in the South African racial classification scheme. He grew up outside Johannesburg and began working at the age of nine, never having attended school. He later enrolled, however, after he was inspired by hearing Othello read to him by a coworker. As a teenager Abrahams discovered works by African American writers such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer in the library at the Bantu Men's Social Centre.

Abrahams began publishing his own poems in local newspapers while studying at a teachers’ training college. While enrolled at St. Peter's Secondary School—a fertile political environment—Abrahams became a member of the Communist Party of South Africa (later renamed the South African Communist Party After his failed attempt to start a school for poor African ...

Article

Michael Niblett

Bulletin of the International African Service Bureau (IASB). The IASB was founded in London in 1937 by the Trinidadian activists C. L. R. James and George Padmore, the Sierra Leonean I. T. A. Wallace‐Johnson, the Kenyan Jomo Kenyatta, and the Guyanese radical Ras Makonnen. All were leading figures within Pan‐Africanism, and their decision to establish the IASB was prompted in part by the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.

The aim of the organization was to help enlighten the British public by distributing literature and holding talks on the issue of colonialism. Africa and the World was introduced in early 1937 to further these ends, the driving force behind it being the Marxist activist and trade unionist Wallace‐Johnson, who became its editor as well as General Secretary of the IASB. By the autumn of 1937 the bulletin had developed into a journal, the African Sentinel which ...

Article

When Africa is regarded as part of the cultural and political history of the African diaspora, it is usually recognized only as an origin—as a past to the African American present, as a source of survival in the Americas, as the roots of African American branches and leaves, or, at the most dialectical, as a concept conjured up by New World blacks as a trope of racial unity.

Yet, in truth, the cultures of both Africa and the Americas have shaped each other through a live dialogue that continued beyond the end of the slave trade. In ways easily documented since the eighteenth century, travel by free Africans and African Americans (by which I mean people of African descent throughout the Americas) has continued to shape political identities and cultural practices in North and South America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Since the eighteenth century enslaved or free black seamen have ...

Article

Following Cuba's independence in 1902, many Afro-Cubans were frustrated in their expectations of fully participating in the new nation. This frustration stemmed from government policies and from massive, subsidized immigration of Europeans, which dramatically weakened Afro-Cubans' position in the labor market. Afro-Cubans increasingly mobilized, and in 1908 some founded the first black party in the Western Hemisphere: the Independent Party of Color (Partido Independiente de Color). The party demanded full equality and proportional representation in public service for Afro-Cubans as well as social reform to improve the conditions of all lower-class Cubans. To counter this challenge, the Cuban Congress banned the party in 1910. In 1912 the Cuban army and white volunteers massacred between 2,000 and 6,000 black men, women, and children in the province of Oriente, where a protest against the ban had been organized. This tragedy marked the end of separate large-scale Afro-Cuban political organization.

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 ...

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George Reid Andrews

Afro-Latin Americans helped forge a history of nation- and state-building, democratization, and social and political reform that transformed the life of the region. As we look ahead, what new challenges are likely to confront Afro-Latin Americans?

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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 ...

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

Carlos Dalmau

A passionate speaker and outspoken critic of United States imperialism and the 1898 invasion and occupation of Puerto Rico, Pedro Albizu Campos spent many years in prison for his role in the pro-independence nationalist movement, during the turbulent years of the 1930s through the 1950s. He opposed the annexation of Puerto Rico by the United States when the island was ceded by the Spanish after the Spanish-Cuban-American War (1895–1898). For Albizu, Puerto Ricans—ethnically mixed and culturally different—were not, and should not be, Americans. Independence was the only legitimate and anti-imperialist solution to the island's status.

From an early age Albizu stood out as an excellent student He grew up in the city of Ponce a municipality in southern Puerto Rico where he received a grant that gave him the opportunity to study chemical engineering at the University of Vermont He later graduated from the Harvard Law School where ...

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

José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva is best known for helping Brazil achieve independence in 1822. It is less often recognized that the year after independence he authored a plan for “the slow emancipation of the blacks.” In this plan he argued: “It is time, and more than time, for us to put a stop to a traffic so barbaric and butcherlike, time too for us to eliminate gradually the last traces of slavery among us, so that in a few generations we may be able to form a homogeneous nation, without which we shall never be truly free, respectable, and happy.”

Andrada e Silva argued that slavery was morally wrong and economically inefficient a violation of God s laws and the laws of justice and a corrupt influence over Brazil s inhabitants Slave labor he believed resulted in the slaveholders idleness and gave ordinary Brazilians little incentive to ...

Article

Gregory Freeland

Jean-Bertrand Aristide turned from his original goal of becoming a priest to serve as a reform-minded leader of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Driven from the Haitian presidency by a military coup in 1991, Aristide returned to power in 1994 to finish his term, then took office for a second time in 2001.

Aristide was born in Port-Salut, Haiti. Soon after he was born his father died, and with his mother and sister he moved to Port-au-Prince At the age of five he became a student in a Roman Catholic school run by the order of the Salesian Brothers He learned to speak French which Haitian authorities of the time preferred to the native language known as Haitian Creole He also learned Latin Greek English Spanish and Italian When Aristide was fourteen years old he began preparation for the priesthood at the Notre Dame seminary ...

Article

Francisco Ortega

Jorge Artel, whose real name was Agapito de Arcos, was born in Colombia, in the colonial city of Cartagena de Indias, once the major entryway for slaves into the Spanish colonies in South America. He grew up surrounded by the drumbeats of the cumbia music, slavery's violent legacies, and the history of resistance embodied in the many maroon communities that dotted the city's borders. In his poetry he evokes those images, especially, as Lawrence Prescott has noted, using the symbol of the drum as the unifying thread essential to the black experience in the Americas. Like other black poets in Spanish America, such as the Afro-Peruvian Nicomedes Santa Cruz (1925–1992) and the Cuban Nicolás Guillén (1902–1989 Artel does not single out race alone as the defining element that has shaped his life and his aesthetic vision For him as for the others class ...

Article

Liliana Obregón

Albuino Azaredo was elected governor of Brazil's state of Espírito Santo (1991–1995). An Afro-Brazilian engineer and successful businessman, Albuino, along with Alceu Collares of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, became one of the first black governors to be elected in Brazil.

Azeredo ran for governor of Espírito Santo as a member of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT). Election patterns have not indicated that voters in Brazil vote along racial lines, but the PDT has an active and militant tradition of speaking about racial issues as part of its political platform. In 1982, for example, its electoral campaign emphasized its commitment to the black population. In addition, influential black leaders have been prominent members of the PDT, including famous black activist Abdias do Nasciamento.

Espírito Santo's Afro-Brazilian population makes up around half of the state's voters. Azeredo did not base his 1991 campaign ...

Article

Article

Joaquín Balaguer was born in Villa Bisono in the Dominican Republic, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. After studying law in the capital city of Santo Domingo, he earned a doctorate at the University of Paris. In 1930 he became involved in a conspiracy that resulted in Rafael Leónidas Trujillo seizing the presidency. During Trujillo's long and dictatorial regime, Balaguer served in various ambassadorial posts abroad and also served as the Dominican Republic's minister of education and vice president. After Trujillo's oppressive rule officially ended, the country was led by a series of puppet leaders, with Trujillo pulling their strings. Balaguer began his presidency in 1960 as one such puppet. Trujillo, however, was assassinated in 1961. Balaguer remained president but faced massive popular protests for a return to democratic rule. In 1962 a general strike forced Balaguer from power He spent the next three years ...

Article

Quintín Banderas's parents were free but poor. To help support his family, Banderas began to work in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba as a bricklayer at the age of eleven. Dissatisfied with the profession, he left home when he was thirteen years old and enlisted as a sailor on a Spanish merchant ship. After he was in Spain for a few months, his mother filed a petition before the merchant for his return because he was a minor. Banderas was returned to Santiago and went back to working as a bricklayer.

During the Ten Years' War (1868–1878), Cuba's first major war of independence, Banderas joined the revolutionary army led by the black military leaders Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo and the white Creole Carlos Manuel Céspedes. Due to his bravery and military achievements, Banderas soon attained the military rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1879 ...

Article

Mayda Grano de Oro

José Celso Barbosa played a key role in the politics of the Spanish-American War, denouncing the Creoles' political aspirations. At the same time, his involvement reflected the complexities and contradictions in race issues confronted by black Puerto Ricans at the time. Barbosa's achievements were not typical of blacks in Puerto Rico at the turn of the century. He represented the “self-made man” that came from humble origins. He had the opportunity to study at the only institution of secondary education on the island, thanks to the determination of his aunt. He completed his studies in the Jesuit seminary before going to the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, where he graduated in 1880. His experience in the United States made him an admirer of republican ideals for social equality and justice.

When Barbosa returned to Puerto Rico he started his medical practice and became a member ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Born in Salvador, Bahia, Rui Barbosa de Oliveira studied at the law academies of Recife and São Paulo, where he met Antônio de Castro Alves, the “Poet of the Slaves,” and future abolitionist Joaquim Nabuco. Barbosa's abolitionist campaign began in 1869, when he organized the conference “O Elemento Servil” (The Servile Element). Although the slave trade had been outlawed on November 7, 1831, slaves who had entered Brazil before that time remained in bondage, and many Africans had since been illegally enslaved. At the Elemento Servil conference, Barbosa condemned slavery on legal grounds by invoking this 1831 law.

In the following years Barbosa frequently challenged the proslavery Conservative Party. During the provincial elections of 1874 he criticized the Free Womb Law, which freed the children of all female slaves, as “a superficial improvement.” In 1884 he joined a reform cabinet led by Manoel Dantas ...