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Article

Allan D. Austin

a military leader in Africa, a slave in Mississippi, was born into the rising Bari family of the Fulbe people in the fabled but real African city of Timbuktu. His name is sometimes written as Abdul Rahahman and Abder Rahman. The Fulbe people were prominent leaders in West African jihads from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries and, though enslaved, the most persistent adherents to Islam in the Americas. Abd al-Rahman's father and family had moved south to territory soon to be called Futa Jallon in the highlands of present-day Guinea after he and non-Muslim allies wrested power from their animist opposition between 1776 and 1778. Well into the twentieth century the military Bari-Soriya and religious Karamoko Alfiya families, usually peacefully, traded rule over their people and lands.

For about a century Futa Jallon was the strongest nation in the area. In its capital Timbo, Abd al-Rahman ...

Primary Source

After nearly ten years of working as an itinerant preacher throughout the colonial South, the former slave George Liele (c. 1750–c. 1828) left the American colonies during the British evacuation of Savannah in 1782. Liele had fought with the Loyalists, and traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, to found the first Baptist church in that country. By 1784, Liele’s congregation was large enough for him to purchase property and construct a new building. However, because the church was made up almost entirely of slaves, Liele faced constant difficulties raising funds, and had to assure local elites that his assembly of servants was not somehow fomenting a rebellion.

The passage below is taken from the Baptist Annual Register, for 1790, 1791, 1792, and part of 1793 in which the church official John Rippon of gives an account of Liele s progress in the early 1790s Rippon gives the preacher the opportunity to ...

Article

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.

Article

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

Adam W. Green

baseball player and manager, was born Felipe Rojas Alou, in Haina, Dominican Republic, to Jose Rojas, a carpenter/blacksmith and grandson of a slave, and Virginia Alou, a homemaker and Caucasian daughter of a Spanish migrant. The second Dominican-born player in major league baseball, Alou was one of three baseball-playing brothers and became the first Dominican to manage in the big leagues.

Alou grew up with five younger siblings in a fifteen-by-fifteen-foot house his father had built in the village of Haina. For much of his childhood, food came from where Alou and his family could scavenge it: using bamboo poles and construction wire to fish in the Haina River or climbing coconut trees and scouring for other fruit. Baseball equipment was scarce in the poor village, and Alou and his brothers would play with lemons or coconut husks for balls and their hands for bats.

Alou traveled to ...

Article

Adam W. Green

was the second of three children born to two freed slaves, Eben Tobias, a farmer, and Susan Gregory, a mixed-race Pequot Indian, in Derby, Connecticut. An education proponent and political activist, Bassett became America's first black diplomat when he served as Resident Minister in Haiti for eight years, helping pave the way for those seeking opportunities in international diplomacy and public service.

Along with his mixed race birth and royal lineage that his family claimed from Africa Bassett whose surname came from a generous white family close to his grandfather s former owners also had elected office in his blood His grandfather Tobiah who won his freedom after fighting in the American Revolution had been elected a Black Governor as had Bassett s father Eben The largely nominal honorific was bestowed upon respected men in various locales via Election Days sometimes by a voice vote these Black Governors ...

Article

Bilali  

Allan D. Austin

Muslim leader and plantation manager, was born in Africa, sold into slavery, and transported to the Bahamas and then to Sapelo Island, Georgia. His name is also given as Bilali Mahomet and Bul‐Ali. Almost nothing is known about Bilali's life in Africa, but his fellow Fula or Peul (originally Malian) friend, Salih Bilali, who was enslaved on the neighboring island of Saint Simons, said that Bilali came from the village of Timbo, in Futa Jallon (later Guinea). This was an important Muslim educational and political community and the homeland of another Fula, Ibrahima abd al‐Rahman, who was enslaved in Mississippi. Bilali's strict adherence to Muslim ways and the book he wrote in Arabic show that he paid attention to his teachers in Africa. In the Bahamas Bilali married at least one of his four known wives before being brought to Georgia around 1802 He had a ...

Article

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.

Article

Donald Altschiller

historian, author, and university professor, was born in Clinton, Alabama, to Ed Walton and Alice Blakely, sharecroppers. When Blakely was young his mother moved north to secure better employment, and he was raised by a great aunt in the coal‐mining town of Preco, near Birmingham. In 1946 his mother returned to Alabama and moved him and his older sister to Oregon, where Alice Blakely had worked as a seamstress and in the Portland shipyards during World War II.

An avid reader since his early years, Blakely particularly enjoyed Russian literature and studied the Russian language in both high school and college. His interest in revolutions and popular democracy further stimulated his interest in Russian history. He received a BA from the University of Oregon in 1962 where he majored in history and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa He also graduated as a Distinguished Military Graduate in the ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

a modernist painter, was born in Guyana. Bowling shaped his art to insert a black cultural sensibility into forms such as abstract painting, generally viewed as “Western,” insisting that art should not be stereotyped by race or national identity. Working on both sides of the Atlantic, his solo exhibits since 1962 number well over eighty.

Little has been written about Bowling's childhood. His mother owned a variety store in Bartica, Guyana, which he looked after when it was being built. At age fifteen, he was sent to England, where he joined the British Library to research Guyana's history and culture. He enrolled in 1957–1959 at Regent Street Polytechnic, Chelsea School of Art, and in 1959–1962 at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, and the Royal College of Art. During this period he was a founder of the Young Commonwealth Artists Group, working with Billy Apple ...

Article

Brazil  

Mohammed Bashir Salau

Compared with other countries in the Americas Brazil has the largest number of people of African descent This demographic reality dates back to the era of the slave trade and it largely ensured that African cultural practices survived relatively more intact and institutionalized in Brazil than in other areas of the Americas In earlier times African Americans viewed Brazil despite its relatively longer history of involvement in the Atlantic slave trade as a desirable racial paradise where people of all colors lived together in harmony with equal opportunities This perception stemmed from several factors including the strong show of African Brazilian culture that brings Brazilians of all backgrounds together especially during carnivals The image of Brazil as a racial paradise however has been challenged and ultimately rejected by scholars who increasingly note the contradictions in Brazilian society Even though a growing number of African Americans no longer view Brazil s ...

Article

David Simonelli

“The Caribbean” refers to the island nations located in the Caribbean Sea that contain numerous African-derived populations who are often in the majority. Caribbean nations with significantly large Afro-Carib populations include the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Martinique, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago. All of these islands have seen migrations of Afro-Carib populations to the United States, and their peoples have contributed significantly to African American culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Among Afro-Caribbeans, Jamaicans have had a disproportionately large influence on African American history, but the people of other nations have had their effect as well.

Most Caribbean island nations began the twentieth century in colonial servitude to European powers Great Britain in particular Those that did not Haiti the Dominican Republic and Cuba were subject to U S invasion and occupation under the provisions of ...

Article

Dorsia Smith Silva

physician, politician, and delegate to the U.S. Congress, was born Donna Marie Christian in Teaneck, New Jersey, to Virginia Sterling Christian and retired Chief District Court Judge Almeric L. Christian, from St. Croix. Christian-Christensen's parents wanted their daughter to understand her cultural connections to the Virgin Islands, so she spent part of her adolescence in St. Croix. This time in St. Croix had a profound influence on Christian-Christensen's career and commitment to helping others.

Christian-Christensen returned to the United States to graduate from St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where she earned a B.S. degree in 1966. After reading a United Negro College Fund booklet about the lack of minorities in health care, she decided to enter the medical field. She attended George Washington University Medical School and earned an M.D. degree in 1970. From 1970 to 1971 Christian Christensen worked an as ...

Article

Christopher Williams

scholar and activist, was born John Henry Clark in Union Springs, Alabama, the first of five children to John Clark and Willella (Willie) Mays, sharecroppers. Later Clarke changed the spelling of his name, dropping the “y” in Henry and replacing it with “ik” after the Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen. He also added an “e” at the end of Clarke.

Clarke s great grandmother Mary who lived to be 108 inspired him to study history The young Clarke sat on her lap listening to stories and it was through her he later said that he first became aware of the word Africa Clarke grew up in the Baptist church and wanted to satisfy his intellectual curiosity regarding the Bible and its relationship to African people Like a detective he searched the Bible looking for an image of God that looked like him His dissatisfaction with what he found later ...

Article

CanadianFootball League player, coach, sports executive, and philanthropist, was born Michael Lutrell Clemons in Dunedin, Florida, to Anna O'Neal and Willy James Clemons. The diminutive Clemons earned his nickname in the CFL because, according to Bill O'Billovich, the Toronto Argonauts' head coach, he resembled a pinball when bouncing off of would-be tacklers. His parents never married; Anna raised Michael, while Willy stayed largely at the periphery of his son's life. Later, Anna married and gave birth to Kelli, while her new husband added two children of his own to the family.

Clemons grew up in the projects of a predominantly black working class community His family and neighbors struggled economically at one point Clemons an excellent student and math whiz even helped his mother s boyfriend run a numbers racket Still Clemons and his mother were devout attendees of the local Baptist church ...

Article

On October 27, 1841, the brig Creole left Hampton Roads, Virginia, for New Orleans with 135 slaves. In early November off the coast of Florida about twenty slaves, led by Madison Washington, commandeered the ship, killing one white crew member. One slave was also killed during the revolt.

The likeliest destination for the fugitives was the free settlement of Liberia, in Africa, but since the Creole was unlikely to withstand such a journey, Washington ordered the crew to sail for the British port of Nassau in the Bahamas. On arrival, the slaves asked for asylum from Great Britain, which in 1807 had banned the trade of slaves and in 1833 had outlawed slavery altogether. Except for several men detained for mutiny and murder, the slaves of the Creole were granted their freedom.

Relations between the United States and Britain had been tense for several years before ...

Article

Creoles  

Eric Bennett

Linguists generally refer to dialect with the lower-case creole, while historians refer to Creole peoples with the upper-case spelling of the term. Historically, the word carries political as much as racial meaning, having denoted, at various times, people of both African and European descent, as well as their racially mixed offspring.

The word Creole derives from the Spanish criollo, meaning “native to the locality.” In the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries it referred to American-born children of Spanish parents. With the settling of North America and the onset of the slave trade, créole, a French cognate, became in many places a name for all nonindigenous but locally reared inhabitants—including the descendants of both African slaves and European colonialists, and even, in some cases, new breeds of plants and livestock.

In most Caribbean communities where ethnicity shaped social relations Creole also became a loaded and divisive term The ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

physician and diplomat, was born near Bennettsville, South Carolina, to parents whose names are not recorded, and who may have been slaves or freed slaves. At an early age, he moved with his parents to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he was educated in that city's public schools.

A gifted student, Crossland later graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, before completing his medical studies at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He practiced medicine and surgery for twelve years in both Missouri and Kingstree, South Carolina, where he also served for a brief period as assistant postmaster. He also served as city physician for several years in St. Joseph.

Crossland also became active in Republican Party politics in Missouri, and by 1901 had become a member at large of that state s Republican central committee He was also elected president of the Negro Republican State League As ...

Article

Kevin R. Gutzman

The annexation of the Dominican Republic was a goal of President Ulysses S. Grant from 1869 to 1871. When the issue became controversial, Frederick Douglass's willingness to serve as a commissioner to that Caribbean country provided a kind of cover against the accusations of the Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner that the real issue was subjugation of a black nation to the United States. Sumner railed against the project in the Senate and eventually won enough support to kill the idea.

Grant imagined adding Dominica to the Union as an all black state He believed annexation of Dominica would spur commercial relations with the Caribbean and give Americans greater access to Hispaniola s mineral resources while blacks who were discontented with their situation in America would have been invited to migrate there Thus the racial concerns of both the blacks and their white neighbors would have received a kind ...

Article

Phillip Luke Sinitiere

As part of an extended trip to Europe and the Mediterranean world, Frederick Douglass visited Egypt in 1886. Though his time in Africa was short, Douglass often thought, wrote, and spoke about the importance of Africa to blacks in nineteenth-century America. As shaped by nineteenth-century American Christianity, Romanticism, the Enlightenment, and scientific inquiry, Douglass's thoughts about and relation to Africa were filtered primarily through ethnology. In a July 1854 address at Western Reserve College in Ohio, "The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered," Douglass displayed some of his most important thoughts on the relationship between culture, race, and black American identity with Africa.

Douglass summarized two major nineteenth-century theories surrounding race and human origins: Polygenesis, championed by the American ethnologist Samuel G. Morton, posited that races originated separately and thus formed separate species. Monogenesis, supported by the British physician Robert Gordon Latham espoused a unitary origin of ...