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Article

Alonford James Robinson

Initially called the American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Color in the United States, the American Colonization Society (ACS) was formed by a group of Presbyterian ministers. The organization's chief objective was to encourage free blacks (and later manumitted slaves) to emigrate to West Africa.

To its audience of free blacks, the organization depicted emigration as an opportunity for African Americans to introduce education and Christianity to their African brethren. In contrast, to Southern whites reading its official newsletter, the African Repository (1825–1909), the ACS portrayed black emigration as a solution to the growing prevalence of free blacks, a population that many Southern whites feared would disrupt the system of slavery. As the ACS grew, the prominence of its members and supporters also grew. Among them were Presidents Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, and James Monroe and United States Supreme Court Justice Bushrod Washington ...

Article

Douglas R. Egerton and Judith Mulcahy

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the American Colonization Society from its establishment in1817 through 1895. The first article discusses reactions and controversy related to the society until1830, while the second article includes discussion of debates within the free black community and attacks on ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

The roots of Americo-Liberian society can be traced to modern Liberia's settlement by free American blacks. From their arrival on the coast of West Africa in 1821, the settlers and their sponsors at the American Colonization Society (ACS), a white abolitionist group, had a complex relationship with the people who were already living there. The settlers brought with them American social, political, and economic values (as expressed in the first constitution of the Commonwealth, later the Republic, of Liberia). They were also strongly influenced by the ACS's ties to the Christian missionary movement. The motives of both white abolitionists and African American colonizers were challenged by critics such as the nineteenth-century African American writer Martin Delany, who charged that the ACS, in “deporting” free blacks, was helping to sustain the practice of Slavery in the United States Furthermore these critics noted the black settlers were establishing a ...

Article

Asians  

Bruce Tap

The first Asians to arrive in the United States in significant numbers were Chinese laborers attracted to the country after the discovery of gold in California. By the early 1870s nearly sixty-five thousand Chinese immigrants had entered the United States and had settled principally in California. The Chinese presence in the United States was facilitated by the Burlingame Treaty, negotiated in 1868, which established a mechanism for free and unfettered immigration to the United States.

Although the Burlingame Treaty was negotiated in part to secure the steady flow of Chinese to supply laborers for the American West many Americans were suspicious of the new arrivals and more than willing to accept European immigrants The mysterious appearance clothing food and customs of Chinese immigrants made them unwelcome in the United States particularly in areas with large concentrations of Chinese workers In California for instance anti Chinese opinions and actions were ...

Article

Gayle T. Tate

When most people, regardless of age, sex, or race, are asked to identify black nationalists, they may mention Marcus Garvey, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X), or, more recently, Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. To others, who are aware of the back-to-Africa movements of the late nineteenth century, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner frequently comes to mind. Rarely however, have black women nationalists such as Maria W. Stewart, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Henrietta Vinton Davis, Audley “Queen Mother” Moore, or Amy Jacques Garvey been recognized for their contributions to the history of the black nationalist movement and ideology Other black women through mass movements political organizations church groups female societies and the early women s club movement fueled the movement s growth at different times in African American history Although African American men were in the foreground of the ...

Article

Kathleen Thompson

Black women have been the cultural, social, and economic support of black towns in America for centuries. There were Senegalese enclaves in Louisiana in the 1700s. In the late eighteenth century, Star Hill, Delaware, was created by free blacks on land they acquired from the Quaker community in Camden. Brooklyn, Illinois, was founded by free blacks and fugitive slaves in 1820. As early as 1830, Frank McWhorter, or “Free Frank,” had founded the town of New Philadelphia, Illinois. Sandy Ground, New York, was created by black oyster fishermen fleeing the restrictions on free blacks in Maryland.

In 1825Elijah Roberts and his wife Kessiah led a group of free African Americans, many of whom were part Cherokee, from North Carolina to Hamilton County, Indiana, to start a settlement. Many of the settlers were members of the Roberts family, which had been free since 1734 ...

Article

Jane Poyner

Passenger on the Empire Windrush (1948) and key figure in London's growing immigrant community. Oswald ‘Columbus’ Denniston was the first African‐Caribbean trader in Brixton market London where he became central to a vibrant community Born in St James Montego Bay Jamaica Denniston left school at 14 to work on a sugar plantation He then trained to become a signwriter and decorator and by the time he left on a one way ticket bound for England had established his own business Arriving in Britain he publicly thanked government officials for assisting in the resettlement of the Caribbean migrants Almost straight away he was offered work as a signwriter in Balham London In the first few weeks he met his future wife Margaret at a church tea party He became a founder member of the Association of Jamaicans and the Lambeth Community Relations Council and was active in a ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and pilot, was born Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr. into a middle-class home in Washington, D.C., to Muriel and Benjamin Drew Sr. Drew attended local schools and one day in class was inspired by viewing the launch of Apollo 7 (1968), the first manned space flight after the Apollo 1 disaster (1967) killed all three members of the crew. Drew later reported that from that day on, the path of his life was set. Everything he did in his education was aimed at flying in outer space. That was no simple goal. Applicants to the astronaut-training program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were legion, but NASA selected only a tiny fraction of them to participate. The number of successful African American applicants was fewer still.

Drew graduated from Gonzaga College High School in 1980 and from there he matriculated in the U ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw

French colonial administrator in Ubangi-Shari and governor-general of French Equatorial Africa, was born Adolphe-Félix-Sylvestre Éboué on 26 December 1884 in Cayenne, French Guyana. The fourth of five children of Yves Urbain Éboué (1851–1898) and Aurélie Léveillé (1856–1926), his maternal and paternal great grandparents were brought as slaves from Africa in the early nineteenth century to work at Roura, close to Cayenne, but they were manumitted in 1848.

Éboué attended primary school at Cayenne, started secondary school at the College of Cayenne, and obtained a diploma to teach primary school in 1901. Governor Émile Merwart of Guyana then granted Éboué a half-scholarship that allowed him to attend the Lycée Montaigne in Bordeaux until 1905, after which Éboué studied at the Colonial School in Paris and graduated in 1908 Éboué was then sent to Ubangi Shari where he served off and on for twenty years Merwart the governor ...

Article

Lynne Macedo

Ship that brought the first large group of Caribbean immigrants to the United Kingdom in 1948. The Empire Windrush actually started life in 1931 as a German liner, the Monte Rosa. During the Second World War she was commandeered by the Third Reich and in 1947 was transferred to the British as one of the spoils of war. Renamed the Empire Windrush in March of that year, she then served as troopship, carrying servicemen to and from parts of the British Empire. In both 1947 and 1948 she voyaged to the Caribbean and on that latter trip stopped over in Jamaica. An advertisement was placed in the Daily Gleaner newspaper to say that 300 passage berths to England would be available for the sum of £28 10s each Because of the depressed economic situation that existed in Jamaica at that time there was great competition for ...

Article

Elizabeth P. Stewart

Arctic explorer, science teacher, and newspaper correspondent, was born Herbert Milton Frisby in South Baltimore, the oldest of the seven children of Ida Frisby (née Henry) and Joseph S. Frisby, a keeper of grain tallies in the port of Baltimore. Born into poverty, young Herbert Frisby worked his way through school by selling peanuts, working as a butler, and playing jazz piano. He graduated from Baltimore Colored High School in 1908 and earned his BA in Liberal Arts from Howard University in 1912. He received an MA in Education from Columbia University in 1936. Frisby married Annie Russell in 1919; they had one son, H. Russell Frisby Sr.

As a sixth-grader Frisby was inspired by the accomplishments of the explorer Matthew Henson, the first African American to reach the North Pole in 1909 with Admiral Robert E. Peary. When Henson ...

Article

Barbara Bair

pan-African activist, was born 18 January 1897 in Port Antonio, Jamaica. She was raised in Panama, where her father operated a print shop, but returned to Jamaica to attend the Baptist Westwood High School for Girls. Class conscious and politically involved, she also identified strongly with her Asante heritage. She met Marcus Garvey while participating in a debating society in Kingston, and she helped him found the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914.

In 1916 Garvey traveled to the United States, where he intended to raise funds to start a UNIA vocational school in Jamaica modeled on Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. Instead he began to build the grassroots Pan-African movement for which he would become famous, receiving mentorship from radical West Indian intellectuals, editors, and labor organizers in Harlem. Ashwood joined Garvey in New York in 1918 She served as UNIA secretary organized the ladies division ...

Article

Since the arrival of Africans on slave ships in the early seventeenth century, migration has been an enduring theme in African-American history. The advent of World War I, moreover, inspired blacks to make a fundamental break with their rural past and move to cities in increasing numbers. Since the early twentieth century, the nature, causes, and consequences of that momentous population movement have engaged the labors of scholars from a variety of disciplines. This essay explores the diverse and changing modes of treating the mass migration of blacks to American cities between the two World Wars.

The literature on black migration during the early twentieth century unfolded within the larger context of three distinct but interrelated conceptual orientations in black urban history The first of these the race relations model emerged at the turn of the twentieth century peaked during the early 1930s and persisted in varying degrees through ...

Article

Gullahs  

Caryn E. Neumann

The Gullahs were African Americans who settled in slave communities along the Atlantic coastal plain and on the chain of Sea Islands; in Georgia these people were known as Geechees. Geographical isolation and strong community life permitted the Gullahs to preserve their African cultural heritage through their skills, language, arts, gestures, and foods.

The homeland of the Gullahs is a coastal strip about 250 miles long and 40 miles wide running through South Carolina and Georgia Low flat islands along the coast are separated from the mainland by saltwater streams This geographic isolation was combined with a steady influx of Africans and a relatively small population of whites to create a culture that was heavily African Even after the official ban on the importation of slaves blacks continued to be smuggled into the coastal areas thereby providing fresh reinforcements of African culture and customs With a higher ratio of Africans ...

Article

James Jankowski

Egyptian politician, athlete, and explorer, was born in Bulaq on 31 October 1889. He was the son of Shaykh Muhammad Hasanayn of al-Azhar and the grandson of Admiral Ahmad Pasha Mazhar Hasanayn. Hasanayn received his early education in Cairo, then at Balliol College, Oxford. A skilled fencer, in 1920 he captained the Egyptian team at the Olympic Games in Brussels. In the early 1920s, he was commissioned by King Fuʾad to explore Egypt’s Western Desert. The Lost Oases (1925) is his own account of his expedition of 1923 on which he traveled from Egypt’s Mediterranean coast through the Libyan Desert, discovering the “lost” oases of Arkenu and Ouenat, and for which he received the Founder’s Medal of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society. In the hope of establishing a long-distance flight record, in 1929 he learned to fly; plagued by malfunctioning aircraft, he eventually abandoned the effort.

Somewhat out ...

Article

Katherine G. Morrissey

Henson, Matthew Alexander (08 August 1866–09 March 1955), arctic explorer, was born in Charles County, Maryland, the son of Lemuel Henson, a sharecropper, and Caroline Gaines. Contradictory information exists about the details of his early life, but most accounts, including his autobiography, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole (1912), agree that Henson was orphaned at an early age, spent several years at the N Street School in Washington, D.C., and went to sea on the three-masted sailing vessel, Katie Hines, from Baltimore, when he was twelve or thirteen.

Henson who signed on as a cabin boy and later became an able bodied seaman spent six years on the ship under a Captain Childs After Childs s death Henson held several jobs ashore including that of a stock clerk for B H Steinmetz Sons a hatter and furrier in Washington D C In 1887 the store ...

Article

Born in Charles County, Maryland, Matthew Alexander Henson began his career as a traveler when he was just a teen. He ran away from home after his parents' death and sailed around the world for six years as a hand aboard the merchant vessel Katie Hines.

Henson was working as a hat store clerk in Washington, D.C., in 1897 when Peary hired him as a valet. He traveled with Peary on a survey expedition to Nicaragua in 1897 and accompanied him on seven polar expeditions. Henson quickly proved indispensable to Peary as a navigator in the Arctic and as a translator among the Inuit (also known as Eskimos).

On April 6, 1909 an expedition made up of Peary Henson and four Inuit claimed to be the first to reach the North Pole Henson who usually broke trail while pulling a sled may have reached the Pole ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

astronaut, was born Joan Elizabeth Miller Higginbotham in Chicago, Illinois, to Inez and William Higginbotham. She graduated from Chicago's highly selective Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in 1982, one year after future First Lady Michelle Obama. Higginbotham, who had excelled in math and science in high school, then entered Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering in 1987. She had not grown up dreaming of becoming an astronaut, or even of working in the space industry. Indeed, it was not until 1983, when Higginbotham was an undergraduate, that the first American woman, Sally Ride, and the first African American man, Guion S. Bluford, entered space. (Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet Cosmonaut, was the first woman in space, twenty years earlier, in 1963 while the first person of African descent in space was Arnaldo Tamayo Ménde ...

Article

The Inland Empire (which 27,000 square miles of Riverside and San Bernardino counties) has long sat in Los Angeles's historical shadow. In 1983 scholar Byron Skinner produced Black Origins in the Inland Empire, which was one of the first academic books to investigate the region. Skinner's work explored the lived experiences of African Americans who had made their way—both voluntarily and in bondage—to the region. In addition Quintard Taylor's In Search of the Racial Frontier (1998) helped to put the Inland Empire in the larger context of the American West and scrutinized racial fluidity throughout the region. Although local history books have been published, there is still so much more to explore, especially in regard to the people of color who inhabited the region before and after statehood.

Article

Idaho  

Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor

From the outset, Idaho Territory drew small numbers of African American fur traders and miners. Attracted by quick riches in the mines or services to the miners, many were transients. Beginning in the late 1800s, black Mormon homesteaders acquired land under the Desert Land Act of 1877 and settled along the state's southeastern border. Some descendants remained in the state in the twenty-first century. Black cowboys and ranch hands worked in the ranch country of Owyhee County. Buffalo soldiers from the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Infantry policed mining labor troubles near Coeur d'Alene in 1892 and 1899. In 1910 the Twenty-fifth Infantry returned to fight wildfires near Avery, where they provided protection to those fleeing the flames. Still, the black population remained less than one thousand until 1950.

A few black farmers homesteaded successfully in scattered isolated areas Others chose small towns where they found work and achieved partial ...