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Article

Abane, Ramdane  

Jeremy Rich

was born in the village of Azouza, Tizi Ouzou province, Algeria on 10 June 1920. He came from a prosperous merchant family of the Kabyle ethnic minority. Abane’s mother was Fatima Meradi, and Abane was her second child, whom she doted on. She died in 1957 and Abane saw her for the last time in the fall of 1956. His father, Farhat, was a trader who had traveled far more than most Algerians, and had even gone to North America twice in 1908 and 1912 on business matters. The family business flourished until World War II, and collapsed during the Algerian war for independence. Ultimately, Abane’s father outlived his son by over twenty years and died in 1979 at roughly 103 years of age.

Abane had a rebellious streak even as a child However the young Abane adored learning He excelled in his French primary school and his ...

Article

Aboulker, José  

Jeremy Rich

was born on 5 March 1920 in Algeria. Both his parents were Jewish and were notable figures in their own right. Aboulker’s father, Félix, was a surgeon and the leader of the centrist Radical Party in Algiers. Berthe Bénichou-Aboulker was one of the first Algerian women to publish a novel and the author of numerous poems. Because after 1879 Algerian Jews became French citizens by an act of the French parliament, Aboulker had the opportunity to receive an advanced education, unlike other Algerians. After completing his primary and secondary education, Aboulker planned to continue in the family profession of medicine, but the outbreak of World War II in Europe in 1939 forced him to postpone his education. He enlisted in a French regiment of spahis at Miliana in Ain Delfa province in northwest Algeria. However, the French government surrendered to the Germans in 1940.

The establishment of a pro ...

Article

Abranches, Henrique  

Jessica Falconi

Angolan anthropologist, writer, and political activist, was born Mário de Carvalho Moutinho in Lisbon on 29 September 1932. Portuguese by birth and Angolan by nationality, Henrique Abranches also used the pseudonyms “Mwene Kalungo” and “Mwene Kalungo-Lungo.” In 1947 he and his family left Portugal to settle in Luanda, where he attended the Liceu Salvador Correia, a pioneering institution of secondary education in Angola whose students included several names that were later important in Angolan literature. After five years in Luanda, Abranches moved to the city of Sá de Bandeira (now Lubango) in the Huíla Plateau in southern Angola, where he became interested in the customs and traditions of the people of the region. He returned briefly to Portugal, where he finished secondary school and attended the Society of Fine Arts. He returned to Lubango on his own and began working for the Bank of Angola. In 1952 he ...

Article

Alexander, Neville Edward  

Crain Soudien

South African intellectual and political activist, was born in Cradock, Eastern Cape, South Africa, on 22 October 1936. His father was David James Alexander, a carpenter, and his mother, Dimbiti Bisho Alexander, a schoolteacher. His maternal grandmother was one of sixty-four Oromo children who were enslaved in Ethiopia in 1888 and subsequently brought to Lovedale in the Eastern Cape. His maternal grandfather was a Presbyterian Church pastor.

Alexander grew up in Cradock where he was also educated at the Holy Rosary Convent. After completing his schooling at the age of sixteen he enrolled at the University of Cape Town where he excelled in German and History, graduating with a BA in 1955, a BA (Hons) in 1956, and an MA in 1957. Both of the latter degrees were in German. In 1958 he was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellowship to study for a ...

Article

Amado, Jorge  

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

Anderson, Charles William  

Carolyn Wedin

internal revenue collector and Republican politician. Charles Anderson was the black Karl Rove of his day; he was Booker T. Washington's most trusted confidante and an activist in Washington's cause from his location in New York City. There is some dispute as to whether Anderson was born in Oxford, Ohio, or in Tennessee, as census records seem to suggest. Though for the most part self-educated, he did attend public schools in Oxford and Middleton, Ohio, as well as Spencerian Business College in Cleveland and the Berlitz School of Languages in Worcester, Massachusetts. Moving to New York City in 1886, he immediately became involved in Republican politics, stumping in the Negro wards. In 1890 he became president of the Young Men's Colored Republican Club of New York County, and by 1895 he was considered a “prominent” black New Yorker by the Times which reported him among members of the ...

Article

Aptheker, Herbert  

Charles Orson Cook

one of the most prolific white scholars of African American history in the twentieth century. Herbert Aptheker was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915 and was educated at Columbia University in the 1930s, where he took an undergraduate degree in geology and an MA and a PhD in history. His first important publication, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), was based on his doctoral dissertation and challenged the prevailing wisdom that slaves were largely passive victims of white masters. In part an outgrowth of Aptheker's master's thesis on Nat Turner, American Negro Slave Revolts immediately became a controversial work and has remained so since. He was befriended by the influential African American historian Carter G. Woodson and the legendary black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, both of whom encouraged his interest in Negro history. Aptheker's other writings include a seven-volume Documentary History of the Negro People ...

Article

Arboussier, Gabriel d’  

David E. Gardinier

politician and anticolonial activist in French West Africa and French Central Africa, is important for his role in the emancipation of the territories of French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa from colonial rule between 1944 and 1960. He was born on 14 January 1908 in Djenné in the French Sudan now Mali His father Henri d Arboussier was a French colonial administrator serving at the time as the territory s governor His mother Djavando was a descendant of Al Hajj Umar a Muslim conqueror who had resisted the extension of French rule in West Africa Gabriel spent his early years in Ouagadougou in Upper Volta now Burkina Faso There at a public primary school he began the mastery of the French language that contributed to his later reputation as one of the finest political orators of his time Thereafter he went to France to complete his studies ...

Article

Bailey, Herman “Kofi”  

Amalia K. Amaki

graphic artist, painter, printmaker, and political activist, was born in Chicago in 1931. An only child, he attended Chicago public schools, moving briefly to Washington, D.C., to study at Howard University with Alain Leroy Locke, Sterling Allen Brown, and James Amos Porter. After one year he then enrolled at Alabama State College (later Alabama State University) to study under the sculptor, painter, and printmaker Hayward Louis Oubre, and he received a bachelor of arts degree. Bailey continued study at the University of Southern California (USC) as a student of Charles White and the Hungarian-born Francis de Erdely. He earned the bachelor of fine arts degree in 1958 and the master of fine arts degree in 1960. At USC he worked as a graduate assistant for two years, introducing the students Mel Edwards and Calvin Burnett to the work ...

Article

Bakary, Djibo  

Klaas van Walraven

prime minister of Niger, was born in Soudouré, west of the capital, Niamey. Although he was the son of a village chief, Bakary was a talaka (a commoner), since his father did not hail from a noble family. Bakary was related by blood to Hamani Diori, Niger’s later president. Although he was a member of the Zarma ethnic community, many people in western Niger regarded Bakary as a Songhay, a closely related ethnic group. Later, he used this to mobilize political support along the Niger River valley.

At the age of 7 Bakary was taken by his uncle to the city of Tahoua central Niger where he was enrolled in a colonial primary school A diligent student he learned to speak Hausa before continuing his education in the capital It was here that his political consciousness began one day he met his father who had been sentenced to forced labor ...

Article

Ballinger, Margaret  

Meghan Elisabeth Healy

liberal historian and politician active in South Africa, was born Violet Margaret Livingstone Hodgson on 11 January 1894 in Glasgow, Scotland. Her father, John Hodgson, emigrated to the Orange Free State, South Africa, shortly after Margaret’s birth, working as a merchant while Margaret’s mother, Lillias, raised their three young children in Scotland. After fighting against the British with the Irish Brigade in the Anglo-Boer War, John Hodgson went to the Atlantic island of Saint Helena as a prisoner of war. When war ended in 1902, officials repatriated him, but he was ostracized in his community. Six months after his return, he illegally boarded a ship bound for Port Elizabeth, where he worked as a bookkeeper. In 1904, John Hodgson’s family joined him in the Cape. He harbored liberal political beliefs, supporting legal equality and the extension of a nonracial franchise in southern Africa.

After attending the Holy Rosary ...

Article

Bambara, Toni Cade  

Aisha X. L. Francis

(b. 25 March 1939; d. 9 December 1995), author, activist, essayist, film critic, and educator. Bambara was born in New York City and raised in and around the New York–New Jersey area. Her given name was Miltona Mirkin Cade, which she shortened to Toni at age five. As an adult she added Bambara to her signature after discovering that one of her grandmothers had used the name in her sketchbooks. In 1970 she had her name legally changed to Toni Cade Bambara. Her mother, Helen Brent Henderson Cade Brehon, to whom Bambara's first novel, The Salt Eaters (1980) is dedicated, encouraged her love of learning and her appreciation for oral history. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater arts from Queens College in 1959 she became a social worker with the Colony Settlement House ...

Article

Bangoura, Hadja Mafory  

Kathleen Sheldon

leading activist in the anticolonial movement in Guinea, was born in Bramaya-Ouassou. She went to Conakry in 1936, where she eventually joined the Foyer de la Basse Guinée, a mutual aid association for people from Lower Guinea. She worked as a tailor in Conakry before she was involved in a group that supported Sekou Touré during the nationalist struggles of the 1950s. She is remembered as the woman who approached Touré during the general strike of 1953 which was a key event in the Guinean nationalist struggle He asked her to help mobilize women to support the strike At a meeting of the strike committee where the women s wing was present for the first time Bangoura spoke for the women saying they would defend the men s activities and if the men were afraid the women were prepared to take their places at the front of the ...

Article

Baraka, Amiri  

James Smethurst

Amiri Baraka was a highly productive writer who has written poetry, drama, novels, Jazz operas, and nonfiction. He also played a crucial role as an organizer, editor, and promoter of the avant-garde literary movements of the 1950s and early 1960s and the Black Arts Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Often controversial, Baraka became the center of a political firestorm in his home state of New Jersey in 2003 when a poem he had written was criticized as anti-Semitic.

Born Everett Leroy (later LeRoi) Jones in Newark, New Jersey, Baraka attended Newark public schools and studied chemistry at Howard University in Washington, D.C., before turning to literature and philosophy. In 1954 he left Howard and joined the United States Air Force. He became increasingly interested in literature, immersing himself in the work of American poet Ezra Pound, Irish novelist James Joyce and other modern ...

Article

Baraka, Amiri  

Henry C. Lacey

One of the most influential and prolific African American writers of the twentieth century, Amiri Baraka first came to the attention of readers and critics as LeRoi Jones. He was born Everett LeRoy Jones on 7 October 1934 in Newark, New Jersey. His solidly middle-class upbringing figures prominently in his creative work and must be considered one of the major distinguishing features in any comparative treatment of Baraka and other seminal African American literary artists. The son of postal employee Coyt LeRoy Jones and social worker Anna Lois (Russ) Jones, Baraka articulates the angst of the African American middle class with unsurpassed effect in works from every phase of his artistic development. This concern is most apparent in such relatively early works as the Beat-inspired Preface to a Twenty-Volume Suicide Note (1961), the theatrical triumph Dutchman (1964), the barometric essays collected in Home Social ...

Article

Baraka, Amiri  

Magda Romanska

playwright, poet, writer, and one of the leaders of the black revolt of the 1960s. Imamu Amiri Baraka was born Everett Leroy Jones during the Great Depression in Newark, New Jersey. He is credited as one of the most outspoken advocates of a black cultural and political revival in the 1960s. He attended Barringer High School and Rutgers University, where he pursued philosophy and religious studies, before enrolling in Howard University in Washington, D.C. It was then that he changed his name to LeRoi Jones. Baraka graduated from Howard University in 1953, and in 1954 he joined the U S Air Force in which he served for three years When an anonymous tipster suggested that he was a communist sympathizer Baraka s belongings were searched for subversive literature Because some of his books were deemed socialist Baraka was discharged from the military Shortly thereafter he ...

Article

Baraka, Amiri  

Sholomo B. Levy

poet, playwright, educator, and activist, was born Everett Leroy Jones in Newark, New Jersey, the eldest of two children to Coyette Leroy Jones, a postal supervisor, and Anna Lois Russ, a social worker. Jones's lineage included teachers, preachers, and shop owners who elevated his family into Newark's modest, though ambitious, black middle class. His own neighborhood was black, but the Newark of Jones's youth was mostly white and largely Italian. He felt isolated and embattled at McKinley Junior High and Barringer High School, yet he excelled in his studies, played the trumpet, ran track, and wrote comic strips.

Graduating from high school with honors at age fifteen, Jones entered the Newark branch of Rutgers University on a science scholarship. In 1952 after his first year he transferred to Howard University hoping to find a sense of purpose at a black college that had ...

Article

Baro, Tumsa  

Mohammed Hassen Ali

pharmacist, lawyer, and Oromo nationalist and political activist in Ethiopia, was mainly responsible for the formation of the Oromo Liberation Front, which in turn transformed Oromo cultural nationalism to political nationalism. He was born in the region of Wallaga. He lost both his parents while very young, and it was his elder brother, the Reverend Gudina Tumsa, who brought him up and provided him with the best education.

While at Haile Selassie I University, Baro Tumsa immersed himself in student politics as well as risky underground Oromo political activities. From 1964 to 1966 he served as secretary and president of the union of the university students in Addis Ababa It was under his leadership that university students were radicalized and energized More than many of his contemporaries Baro Tumsa realized that the Oromo and other conquered people of southern Ethiopia were landless subjects without rights who were exploited economically ...

Article

Barry, Marion Shepilov, Jr.  

Caryn E. Neumann

four-time mayor of Washington, D.C., was born on a cotton plantation near the Delta hamlet of Itta Bena in northwestern Mississippi to sharecroppers Marion Barry Sr. and Mattie Barry. In 1940 Barry Sr. died, and in 1944 Barry, his mother, and his sister moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where Mattie worked as a maid and married Dave Cummings a butcher The combined family which eventually included nine members lived in a narrow wooden shotgun house in South Memphis one of four black enclaves in the city Barry slept on the couch and rose early each morning to chop wood for the stove He stuffed cardboard in his shoes to fill the holes and sold his sandwiches to other kids at school for pocket money A bright industrious child he eventually became one of the first African American Eagle Scouts in Memphis In the summer he traveled with his mother ...

Article

Bearden, Bessye Jean  

Tiana Wilson

was born Bessie Jeanne Johnson in Goldsboro, North Carolina, to Carrie Olcott Johnson. Her father’s name is unknown. In 1897, Carrie married George T. Banks, a farmer native to Virginia. By the age of eleven, Bessie and her family were living in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where she received her formal education. After high school, she attended Hartshorn Memorial College in Richmond, Virginia, and she graduated from Virginia Normal Industrial Institute in Petersburg. She continued her post-graduate education at the University of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh and studied journalism at Columbia University in New York City. During this period, she met Richard Howard Bearden, and the two married in 1911, then briefly moved to his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. Around this time, she changed the spelling of her name to Bessye. On 2 September 1911, Bessye Bearden gave birth to their only son, Romare Bearden ...