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Carlos Franco Liberato and Martha I. Pallante

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the African diaspora, from the origins of slave trade through nineteenth-century America. The first article focuses on the evolution and criticism of the diaspora, while the second article focuses on the cultural effects of this forced transatlantic migration.]

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Lucy Terry Prince was probably born in 1730 in Africa. Brought to the colonies while still very young, she was purchased at the age of five by Ebenezer Wells of Deerfield, Vermont, who had her baptized in 1735 and taught her to read and write. At fourteen she became a member of Wells's church. On 25 August 1746, when she was sixteen, Indians raided the town of Deerfield, in an area known as “The Bars.” The young enslaved woman wrote a poem commemorating the event, and it is clear from the tone that Lucy Terry's affection for her neighbors was not marred by a sense of racial inferiority or even self-consciousness. The poem itself was treasured in Deerfield and handed down from generation to generation. It was published in 1855 in History of Western Massachusetts by Josiah Gilbert Holland This is the only extant poem by Terry but there ...

Article

Kristal Brent Zook

journalist and historian of the early West, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the eldest of five children of Daniel Beasley, an engineer, and Margaret (Heines) Beasley, a homemaker. Although little is known about her childhood, at the age of twelve Beasley published her first writings in the black-owned newspaper, the Cleveland Gazette. By the time she was fifteen she was working as a columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, becoming the first African American woman to write for a mainstream newspaper on a regular basis.

Beasley lost both parents as a teenager and was forced to take a full-time job working as a domestic laborer for the family of a white judge named Hagan. Her career then took several unusual turns as Beasley, who was described by biographer Lorraine Crouchett as short well proportioned and speaking in a shrill light voice perhaps because of a chronic hearing ...

Article

Trevor Hall

His father, Giovanni da Ca’ da Mosto, and mother, Giovanna Querini, married in 1428, and the couple had four sons and two daughters. Cadamosto came from a Venetian family of some standing. His reason for renown is that he was the first European to sail from Portugal to West Africa and back, to write a long travel narrative of his maritime voyages. He also described the Islamic West African kingdoms he visited during the the 1450s. Cadamosto wrote his narrative many years after the voyages to West Africa, and there is evidence that later historical events where incorporated into his narrative—a process historians call “feedback.” Thus, Cadamosto’s dates and chronology have been called into question by scholars. However, the Venetian must be taken seriously because he presented some of the first eye-witness descriptions of West Africa and Portuguese voyages to the tropics during the fifteenth century.

Since the Middle ...

Article

Jim Mendelsohn

According to Potawatomi Indians in the early nineteenth century, “The first white man to settle at Chickagou was a Negro.” Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable, an Afro-French trader, began the settlement of Chicago in approximately 1790.

In only fifty years, as Chicago became an important center of commerce for the grain and livestock trades, a vital African American community developed along the banks of the Chicago River. Composed of fugitive slaves fleeing the South and a small number of free blacks, the community acted in defiance of the Illinois Black Code, which required all African Americans to carry a certificate of freedom and post a $1,000 bond. Together with white abolitionists, the black community vigorously protested against slavery, resettled more fugitive slaves from the South, and established important links on the Underground Railroad. By the outbreak of the Civil War (1861–1865 approximately 1 000 blacks ...

Article

legendary founder of the Chadian kingdom of Baguirmi, was apparently born in the early sixteenth century. Given the wealth of legends about his life and the lack of documentary evidence, it may be that stories involving Dala Birni Bisse may refer to events linked to several early mbang kings of Baguirmi Many oral traditions collected about Dala Birni Bisse claim that his grandfather ʿAbd al Tukruru was the great grandson of ʿAli son in law of the prophet Muhammad Supposedly ʿAbd al Tukruru s father Muhammad Baguirmi was a black child of two Arabian parents who was nearly killed by his angry relatives ʿAbd al Tukruru advised his twelve sons and twelve of their friends to leave Yemen and establish a kingdom somewhere to the west They brought with them bellows made of stone from the holy city of Medina three drums three trumpets and three lances carried by ...

Article

Felix Macharia Kiruthu

pioneer white settler in Kenya, settled in the country in 1903. At the time he first visited the country during a hunting expedition in 1897, he had inherited the family title, as Third Baron Delamere, and the family estate, bringing him a fortune at the age of seventeen. Using his family wealth, he traveled widely, visiting Corsica, New Zealand, Australia, India, and Somaliland before settling in Kenya. Benefitting from a land grant from the colonial government in Njoro, between the Mau escarpment in the west and the Aberdare Ranges in the east in 1903, he named his parcel of land the Equator Farm in 1904. In due course, he acquired additional land in the country’s Rift Valley Province, and subsequently relocated to the Soysambu Farm near Lake Elementeita in 1910 Together with the East African Syndicate Delamere owned one fifth of all the alienated land ...

Article

Allan D. Austin

Martin Robison Delany's haphazard education began clandestinely before his family's escape from slave-state Virginia in 1822. By 1832, in Pittsburgh, Delany, always proudly black and Africa-respecting, had joined the local African Education, Antislavery, Temperance, Philanthropic, Moral Reform, and Young Men's Bible societies. Further, he cofounded the Theban Literary Society—named after the Egyptian city.

By 1836 he began studying medicine, insisting upon civil rights, and preaching professional training for African Americans rather than barbering or manual labor suggestive of servant or second-class status. When black suffrage was rescinded in Pennsylvania in 1838, Delany, alone, passed through slave territory to then independent Texas to test its potential as a home for free blacks (1839–1840), his first adventure in emigration and exploration. Disappointed, but with scenes and dialogues he would use later in Blake, his only novel, he returned to Pittsburgh.

In 1843Delany married ...

Article

George Boulukos

slave, sailor, writer, and activist (widely known in his time as Gustavus Vassa), became the most famous African in eighteenth-century Britain as the author of his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789 While the scholar Vincent Carretta has found some evidence placing his birth in South Carolina Equiano identifies his birthplace as Essaka a small ethnically Igbo town in present day Nigeria His parents remain unknown but Equiano s family was prominent he expected to undergo a scarification ritual but was kidnapped by slavers as a young boy He experienced slavery in a variety of West African communities until he was brought to a seaport and sold to European slavers Neither Essaka nor the name Equiano has been definitively identified although both have plausible Igbo analogs such as Isseke and Ekwuano Both his African origin and his exact ...

Article

Sharon Harrow

the first English woman to write and publish a narrative of her travels to West Africa, was born Anna Maria Horwood to Grace Roberts and Charles Horwood in Bristol.

In 1788 she married the physician and abolitionist Alexander Falconbridge; friends and family disapproved of the match. Alexander’s vehement abolitionist views resulted from his service as surgeon on four slave ships. The year of their marriage, he published An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa in order to publicize the horrors of the Middle Passage. He worked with Thomas Clarkson’s abolitionist campaign and was subsequently contracted by the St. George’s Bay Company (later renamed the Sierra Leone Company) to rescue the ailing colony of Sierra Leone. Earlier in the century, it had been a trading site for the Royal Africa Company, and it remained a country of economic interest to England. In 1787 the abolitionist Granville ...

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

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

Cynthia Staples

world traveler and writer, was born in Mississippi. Little is known of her early childhood except that her formal education ended at age ten. Like many African American girls of her generation, Harrison found employment as a domestic in the homes of white families. At age sixteen she left the South, traveling as far north as Canada and even making her way deeper south to Cuba, where she learned Spanish and French. Sometime during these years of work and travel, Harrison saw a magazine article depicting temple spires in a foreign land. That image fueled her lifelong desire to travel around the world.

While working in Denver, Colorado, Harrison managed to save $800 toward fulfilling her dream. Unfortunately the bank holding her savings failed. Harrison was left with just enough money to travel to California. There she secured a position with the family of George Dickinson a real ...

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

Moroccan writer and explorer, was born in Tangier, Morocco, into a well-respected Berber family of judges who adhered to the Maliki school of jurisprudence. Toward the end of his life he recounted his journeys in a book entitled A Gift to the Observers Concerning the Curiosities of Cities and the Marvels Encountered in Traveling. The work is one of the principal sources available to modern researchers for the social, economic, and political conditions of the fourteenth-century Islamic world. Although not as well known, Ibn Battuta’s travels were more extensive than the journeys of his younger European contemporary, Marco Polo. Over a period of twenty-eight years, he crossed the breadth of Africa and Asia and visited the equivalent of approximately forty-four modern countries. He combined his travels with scholarly pursuits, or with professional posts such as that of judge (qadi in cities along the way A native speaker ...

Article

Barbara Worley

Like the majority of North Africans, Ibn Battutah (whose full name was Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn’Abd Allah al-Lawati at-Tanji ibn Battutah) was ethnic Berber, and his family traced its ancestry to the nomadic Luwata ethnic group originating in Cyrenaica west of the Nile Delta. Born into the Muslim religious elite in Tangier, Morocco, he would have received a classical literary education in addition to rigorous studies in Islam.

Ibn Battutah wrote poetry in addition to traveling across Africa, Arabia, Asia Minor, India, and China. Most important of his works are his descriptions of the life and culture of peoples of the Niger Basin and Central Sahara, among the earliest and by far the most detailed. After Ibn Battutah returned from his voyages he recounted his observations to Ibn Juzayy, who recorded and edited them at Fès, in Morocco.

At the age of twenty-one, Ibn Battutah set out on ...

Article

Charles C. Stewart

traveler, travel writer, and historian, was born in Wadan (in present-day Mauritania). Talib Ahmad al-Mustafa, whose father’s name, translated literally, makes him the “son of the little bird of paradise” (ibn Twayr al-Janna), was the author of Mauritania’s most widely known example of nineteenth-century travel literature (rihla), but he was also an historian and widely versed author on diverse subjects, including his hometown of Wadan. His name in full is Ahmad al-Mustafa ibn Twayr al-Janna ibn ʿAbd Allah ibn Ahmad Sa’im al-Hajji al-Wadani or, in a shortened version, Ibn Twayr al-Janna.

In Wadan he became a student of the highly acclaimed scholars Sidi ʿAbd Allah ibn al Hajj Ibrahim al ʿAlawi d 1818 Ahmad Salim ibn al Imam al Hajji al Wadani d 1823 al Salik ibn al Imam al Hajji d 1830 Muhammadhan Fal ibn Mbarik al Yadmusi al Shamshawi d 1848 and Abu ʿAbd Allah Muhammad ...

Article

James McCarthy

Scottish explorer and geographer of Africa, was born in Edinburgh in 1844. Alexander Keith Johnston was the son of the eminent geographer and cartographer of the same name, who had established the highly respected engraving and mapmaking firm of W. & A. K. Johnston with his brother William. Although the young Keith was educated at prestigious schools in the Scottish capital, he was also tutored carefully by his father, and learned those European languages in which significant geographical material was published. Like his father, Keith’s interest extended well beyond conventional cartography, and he made important contributions to oceanography, hydrology, and global climatic influences. Both were influential figures in the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), itself the most important national institution in the promotion of worldwide discovery and the development of the nineteenth-century British Empire, not least in Africa.

After a period as superintendent of drawing and engraving at the prestigious ...

Article

Jim Mendelsohn

African Americans were slaves in area farm fields and on boats plying the Missouri River well before Kansas City was incorporated in 1853. While Kansas City grew around its stockyards and grain depot, a black community developed in the West Bottoms and North End. By 1880 African Americans numbered 8,100 in Kansas City, or 14.5 percent of its population. By the turn of the century, migration from the South and the Southwest had more than doubled that number. By then the growth of industry had forced most of the African American community to the north side of Kansas City. The black community would compose 10 to 12 percent of the city's population for the next seventy years.

Segregation had been unofficially present since the 1870s but in the twentieth century it became overt and still more devastating African Americans were barred outright from many hotels and theaters At the ...

Article

David C. Conrad

also known as Mari Djata I was credited in oral tradition with founding of the Mali Empire and acknowledged in an Arabic source as ruler of his western sudanic state Sunjata s place of birth has often been identified as the village of Niani on the Sankaran River but there are convincing arguments against this Recently presented etymological and oral evidence points to the no longer extant village of Farakoro in the chiefdom of Konfara a region of modern day northeastern Guinea near the Mali border The oral sources identify Sunjata s father by various names associated with his chieftaincy including Maghan Konfara Naré Maghan Konaté and Farako Manko Farakonkèn Oral tradition recalls Sunjata s most distant paternal ancestor as Mamadi Kani in a genealogy that continues with other ancestral names recognizable in a score of variants but it is not clear if the earliest ones represent sons of Mamadi ...