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Abu-Jamal, Mumia  

April Taylor

Born Wesley Cook in Philadelphia, Mumia Abu-Jamal was a political activist from adolescence. At the age of fourteen he was arrested and beaten for demonstrating against segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace. He was a founding member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968 and worked on the party's newspaper in California during the summer of 1970.

Returning to Philadelphia, Abu-Jamal became a radio journalist with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and had his own talk show on station WUHY. He was highly critical of Philadelphia's police department and of the city's “law and order” mayor, Frank Rizzo. He provided coverage of the police treatment of MOVE, a Philadelphia black militant group, which further alienated the authorities. Forced to leave his position as a journalist, Abu-Jamal took a job as a taxi driver.

While Abu Jamal was driving his cab on the ...

Article

Abu-Jamal, Mumia  

Todd Steven Burroughs

radical prison journalist and author. Mumia Abu-Jamal was born Wesley Cook in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a teenager in the 1960s he was attracted to the Black Panther Party (BPP). Cook—christened “Mumia” by one of his high school teachers—helped form the BPP's Philadelphia chapter in spring 1969 and became the chapter's lieutenant of information. He wrote articles for the Black Panther, the party's national newspaper, and traveled to several cities to perform BPP work. He left the party in the fall of 1970 because of the split between Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton.

After attending Goddard College in Plainfield Vermont Cook now calling himself Mumia Abu Jamal the surname is Arabic for father of Jamal Jamal being his firstborn returned to Philadelphia and began a radio broadcasting career in the early 1970s Abu Jamal was part of the first generation of black journalists to become professional newscasters for ...

Article

Batrell Oviedo, Ricardo  

Mark A. Sanders

In 1912 Batrell published his memoir Para la historia: Apuntes autobiográficos de la vida de Ricardo Batrell Oviedo, the only account of Cuba’s final war for independence written by an Afro-Cuban. Poor and uneducated, Batrell taught himself to read and write, then composed his memoir to document the participation of Afro-Cubans in the war (approximately 60 percent of the Liberation Army was black; see Ferrer, 1999, p. 2), and to present the war from the perspective of a black soldier.

Born on the Santísima Trinidad de Oviedo sugar plantation near Sabanilla, in the province of Matanzas—Cuba’s largest sugar-producing province—Batrell worked as a field hand until the age of 15. On 2 February 1896 he joined the Liberation Army that had months earlier crossed the Spanish fortified ditch (la trocha at Puerto Píncipe and invaded the western provinces Matanzas La Habana and Pinar del Rio Serving in ...

Article

Bradley, Wallace “Gator”  

SaFiya D. Hoskins

former gang enforcer, social and political activist, was born Wallace Bradley in Chicago, Illinois, the third of eleven children of Wallace Sr. and Eddie Mae Bradley. His father was a general labor foreman, and his mother was a homemaker. Bradley grew up in the Racine Courts housing project on Chicago's Southside in the Morgan Park community made famous by Lorraine Hansberry in her play, A Raisin in the Sun. He earned the moniker “Gator” from close friends and family, after the cartoon character “Wally Gator,” a name he preferred to Wallace. Bradley attended John D. Shoop Elementary School (now John D. Shoop Academy of Math, Science, and Technology) and had early aspirations of becoming an attorney. Upon graduating from Shoop he enrolled at Morgan Park High School, but was expelled in 1968 when, after the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ...

Article

Brown, H. Rap  

W. S. Tkweme

militant political activist and religious leader, was born Hubert Geroid Brown in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the youngest child and second son of Eddie C. Brown, a laborer for Esso Standard Oil, and Thelma Warren, a teacher. According to his own account, Brown was a rebel from the earliest days against the color biases of his community as well as the authoritarianism and Eurocentric curricula of the schools in Baton Rouge. He identified with youth street culture and its heroes, whose verbal and physical jousting he extolled in his 1970 memoir Die Nigger Die! His facility at signifying or “playing the dozens” earned Brown the “Rap” sobriquet that he was to carry throughout the first phase of his public career.Brown attended Southern University in Baton Rouge from 1961 to 1963 but dropped out to pursue his growing interest in the civil rights movement Following his brother Ed whose ...

Article

Brown, H. Rap  

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

civil rights activist and religious leader. Hubert Gerold “H. Rap” Brown was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1943. He attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, studying sociology from 1960 to 1964. He then relocated to Washington, D.C., where he became chairman of the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), a civil rights organization. During his brief tenure with the NAG, Brown attended a high-profile meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson. Much to the chagrin of more moderate black leaders, Brown refused to show deference to the president, instead rebuking him for the state of American race relations.

In 1966 Brown joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), becoming director of the Alabama Project. In 1967 at the age of twenty three he was elected chairman of the organization Brown led SNCC in a transition away from the nonviolent philosophy of the early days of the civil ...

Article

Brown, Hubert G. (“H. Rap”)  

Alonford James Robinson

Hubert Brown was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 1962 he dropped out of Southern University to join the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG) at Howard University. In 1965 he became chairman of NAG. Labeled an extremist by the media for his nationalist views, Brown was an outspoken advocate of Black Power in the United States. In May 1967, when Stokely Carmichael stepped down, Brown was elected national chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

That same year, Brown was charged by the states of Maryland and Ohio with inciting violence. He was harassed by the police and targeted by the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). While under indictment, Brown was arrested for transporting weapons across state lines. He resigned as SNCC chairman in 1968 Later that year he was sentenced to five years in prison on federal weapons charges ...

Article

Camara, M’Balia  

Elizabeth Schmidt

Guinean political activist, was born into a farming family in the Lower Guinea village of Posseya in 1929. She was a political activist in the town of Tondon in the mid-1950s. A member of the Guinean branch of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA), Camara led the local RDA women’s committee. Toward the end of World War II, she married Thierno Camara, a military veteran who was later elected president of the Tondon RDA subsection.

A hotbed of opposition to government- appointed canton (administrative district) chiefs, Tondon attracted the attention of the French colonial authorities on 9 February 1955 when Thierno Camara and other RDA militants were arrested for undermining chiefly authority When villagers tried to thwart their leader s arrest Chief David Sylla attacked the crowd with his saber and gun seriously wounding several demonstrators He then entered the Camaras house and attacked M Balia Camara who was ...

Article

Newton, Huey P.  

Marian Aguiar

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Huey Newton grew up in Oakland, California, a place that would become the West Coast center of the American Black Nationalist movement. While attending Merritt College in Oakland, he met Bobby Seale, and the two began to work together on a project to diversify the school's curriculum. Inspired by nationalist struggles in the Third World and revolutionaries such as Fidel Castro and Mao Zedong, Newton became critical of the racist oppression of blacks in the United States and the capitalist system he saw as underpinning that exploitation.

As a response to the condition of black America, Newton and Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense later simply called the Black Panther Party We want land bread housing education clothing justice and peace concluded the organization s ten point program which Newton coauthored Patrolling black neighborhoods with shotguns which were ...

Article

Newton, Huey P.  

Kathleen N. Cleaver

leader of the Black Panther Party, was born Huey Percy Newton in Monroe, Louisiana, the son of Amelia Johnson Newton and Walter Newton, a sharecropper and Baptist preacher. Walter Newton so admired Louisiana's populist governor Huey P. Long that he named his seventh and youngest son after him A proud powerful man Newton defied the regional convention that forced most black women into domestic service and never allowed his wife to work outside the home He always juggled several jobs to support his large family Like thousands of black southerners drawn to employment in the war industries the Newtons migrated to California during the 1940s Settling in Oakland the close knit family struggled to shelter young Huey but could not stop the mores of the ghetto from shaping his life Years later those same ghetto neighborhoods became the springboard of the Black Panther Party that thrust Newton ...

Article

Newton, Huey P.  

Todd Steven Burroughs

a leader of the Black Power movement and a scholar. As one of the cofounders of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP), Newton became an internationally recognized leader of America's left-wing political forces and a symbol of black radicalism. While he was in jail, the BPP grew into an organization of local chapters and branches across the United States.

Huey Percy Newton was born in Monroe, Louisiana. He attended college part-time in Oakland, California, between 1959 and 1965, studying psychology and philosophy. He was inspired by Malcolm X, whom he had heard speak at a local high school in the early 1960s, and as a result became a student activist.

The BPP, which Newton came to symbolize, formed after the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965. Asking permission to use the black panther symbol from the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, Newton and his friend Bobby Seale ...

Article

Tosh, Peter  

Norman Weinstein

Born Peter McIntosh, Tosh's entrance into music began during his teenage years in the Trenchtown ghetto of Kingston, where he and his friends Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer imitated the vocal harmonies of Curtis Mayfield. Tosh's early recordings as part of a Ska/Reggae trio with Marley and Wailer (who became known as “The Wailers”) made clear that his singing and songwriting talents were strongly flavored by rage against hypocritical individuals and institutions. Songs like “400 Years” and “Downpressor” are prime examples of his mastery of political protest songwriting. His first recordings as a solo artist in the early 1960s include a wry commentary on sexual mores (“Shame and Scandal”) and a boastful declaration of Rastafarian identity (“Rasta Shook Them Up”).

After quitting The Wailers in 1972 Tosh pursued a performing and recording career as a solo artist marked by the cultivation of a persona ...

Article

Turner, Jack  

Mamie E. Locke

political activist, Republican party organizer, and lynching victim, was born a slave in Alabama. His parents' names are unknown. He lived on the Choctaw County farm of Beloved Love Turner, from whom he acquired his surname after emancipation. Jack Turner had no formal education but was described as articulate, perceptive, and courageous, with a commanding physical presence. He married Chloe (maiden name unknown) in the late 1860s, and they had four children. He remained in Choctaw County after being freed, working as a farm laborer around Mount Sterling and Tuscahoma.

After the Civil War, Turner became active in Reconstruction politics in Choctaw County. He was one of the organizers in 1867 of the county Republican Party which was composed of local blacks and a few whites including Turner s former owner Turner took an active role in helping former slaves make the transition from slavery to ...

Article

Turner, Jack  

Mamie E. Locke

Turner, Jack (1840?–19 August 1882), political activist and party organizer, was born a slave in Alabama. His parents’ names are unknown. He lived on the Choctaw County farm of Beloved Love Turner, from whom he acquired his surname after emancipation. Turner had no formal education but was described as articulate, perceptive, and courageous, with a commanding physical presence. He married Chloe (maiden name unknown) in the late 1860s, and they had four children. He remained in Choctaw County after being freed, working as a farm laborer around Mount Sterling and Tuscahoma.

After the Civil War Turner became active in Reconstruction politics in Choctaw County He was one of the organizers in 1867 of the county Republican party which was composed of local blacks and a few whites including Turner s former owner Turner took an active role in helping former slaves make the transition from slavery to ...