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Brad S. Born

Benjamin Banneker was born 9 November 1731in Baltimore County, Maryland, the first child of free African American parents Mary Banneker and Robert, a former slave whose freedom she had purchased and who took her surname upon marriage. Growing up on their tobacco farm, Benjamin received little formal schooling, learning to read and write from his grandmother and attending for several seasons an interracial school where he first developed his lifelong interest in mathematics. Following his parents’ deaths and three sisters’ departures from home, Banneker remained on the farm, working the crops and cultivating his intellect in relative seclusion.

In 1771, he befriended George Ellicott a Quaker neighbor whose family had developed a large complex of mills on the adjoining property With astronomical texts and instruments borrowed from Ellicott he trained himself to calculate ephemerides tables establishing the positioning of the sun moon and stars for each day ...

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John Gilmore

Writer, art collector, and owner of plantations in Jamaica. He was the son of William Beckford, on whose death in 1770 he inherited an enormous fortune. This came under his control when he attained his majority in 1781 and for many years enabled him to travel extensively in Europe, to fund his enthusiasm for building Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire as a Gothic extravaganza to house himself and the books, pictures, and works of art that he collected on a prodigious scale. In the 1790s his income was estimated at well over £100,000 a year, and in 1809 the poet Lord Byron hailed him as ‘England's wealthiest son’. From the 1820s the income from his Jamaican estates declined significantly, and he was forced to sell Fonthill and major parts of his collections. Beckford is remembered as the author of the novel Vathek an Orientalist fantasy published in ...

Article

Adam Jones

traveler and writer from what is now southern Ghana, was born c. 1827 in or near the Asante capital of Kumasi. In contemporary documents, his name often appears as Aquassie Boachi. His father Kwaku Dua (c.1797–1867) was Asantehene (King of Asante) from 1834 to 1867. According to the “History of Ashanti,” prepared in the mid-twentieth century under the chairmanship of Asantehene Prempeh II (1892–1970), Kwasi Boakye belonged to the village of Atomfuo, 8 miles (13 km) east of Kumasi. This suggests that on his mother’s side he came from the lineage of royal blacksmiths, which may explain why, in 1837 in accordance with his father s wishes he and a close relative of the same age Kwame Poku were chosen to accompany a Dutch embassy under Major General Jan Verveer on its return to Elmina on the coast They were subsequently brought to ...

Article

Christopher Campbell

Northamptonshirepoet and labourer whose support for the Anti‐Slavery Movement was consistent with his consideration for the plight of the disfranchised within society. He corresponded with the literary editor and publisher Thomas Pringle secretary of the Anti Slavery Society on the subject of the colonial trade in trafficking humans I have a feeling on the broad principle of common humanity that slavery is not only impiety but disgracful to a country professing religion and there is evidence to suggest that Clare considered contributing to poetic anthologies on the subject He later utilized the language of abolition to describe his own wretched state in the asylum which he termed a slave ship from Africa While Clare expresses little condemnation for the machinery of imperialism as a system in the Blakean sense his account of meeting a black beggar outside St Paul s Cathedral London and his resolve to return with ...

Article

Mark Allan Jackson

songwriter and labor activist, was born to George and Vinna Handcox on their farm near Brinkley, Arkansas. Unlike many African Americans in the rural South at this time, the Handcox family owned their own land. However, it was not very productive, so they had to rent land on which to grow cotton, the area's dominant crop.

Because of his responsibilities, young Handcox could not devote much time to education. Five months a year were all that most farm children in Arkansas could spare to attend school, a schedule dictated by the cotton-growing season. But Handcox thrived there, mainly because of his interest in poetry. His father bought him a book by the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar who became Handcox s model for his own writing Often he was asked to recite his work during school events and when he graduated from the ninth grade the end to his ...

Article

Marsha C. Vick

Dori Sanders, the popular storyteller and lifelong peach farmer in Filbert, South Carolina, made her literary debut with Clover (1990), a novel about a ten-year-old black farm girl whose widowed father dies only hours after marrying a white woman. Clover Hill and her stepmother, Sara Kate, build a life together in rural South Carolina while coming to terms with their grief, with Clover's extended family, and with their cultural differences. The child's perceptive and humorous first-person narrative depicts their experiences as they learn to live with and love each other.

Her Own Place (1993), Sanders's second novel, traces fifty years in the life of Mae Lee Barnes a World War II bride who raises five children and runs her own farm in South Carolina after her husband abandons the family She finds inner strength and meaning through her love of family community and the land ...

Article

Richard Pankhurst

Ethiopian Minister of Posts, Telephones and Telegraphs, musician, singer, poet, and wit, was born in Minjar in eastern Ethiopia in 1876. He was the son of Ato Eshete Gobe, a servant of Ras Mekonnen, Emperor Menilek II’s governor of Harar, and Weyzero Woleteyes Habtu. Young Tesemma spent his early childhood in Harar, where he learned reading and writing in a church school, but upon his father’s death he moved to Addis Ababa. Later in 1908, at the age of thirty-one, he was chosen by Menilek to go to Germany with two other Ethiopians. They accompanied a departing German visitor, Arnold Holz, who in the previous year had driven to Addis Ababa in a Nache motor car, the second car to reach the Ethiopian capital—the first, a Wolseley driven by Bede Bentley, had arrived in the Ethiopian capital only a few months earlier.

While in Germany where he spent ...

Article

John Gilmore

Poet born in Jamaica, the son of John and Dorothy Williams, who were free black people. John Williams was a former slave who had been freed by the will of his master, Colonel John Bourden (a prominent local figure who died in 1697), and who subsequently became a successful merchant, whose activities included moneylending on an extensive scale, and trade between Jamaica and Britain.

As a young man, Francis Williams lived in Britain, possibly for several years, and may have been entrusted with the British end of his father's business concerns. On 8 August 1721 he was admitted as a member of Lincoln s Inn while there is no evidence to suggest that he was ever called to the Bar or practised as a lawyer the Inns of Court often functioned in this period as a sort of finishing school for young men of gentlemanly status who ...