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Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán was born and received his primary and secondary schooling in Veracruz, where there was a strong African influence, before studying medicine in Mexico City. In the 1920s and 1930s intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos undertook pioneering studies of Indians in Mexico, whose culture and history had largely been viewed with disdain until then. The studies resurrected a degree of interest in and dignity for Indian heritage. Although Vasconcelos argued that much of indigenous culture should be subsumed in a larger Mexican culture, Aguirre Beltrán believed that indigenous cultures were worthy of study for their own sake. After graduating from the University of Mexico with a medical degree, Aguirre Beltrán returned to Veracruz, where he held a post in public health that further sparked his interest in Indian ethnicity and history. In 1940 he published two studies on the ethnohistory of colonial and precolonial Indians in ...

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Jeremy Rich

Beninese political leader and historian, was born sometime in the late nineteenth century into a powerful Wegbaja family. His family claimed descent from Glele, the powerful ruler of the Dahomey Kingdom in the late nineteenth century.

Despite his important role in colonial politics and anthropological research in Benin from the 1930s until the 1950s, little published work sheds light on his early background. Aho served in the French military as a young man and spoke and wrote fluently in French. He probably received his primary and secondary education in Benin. Aho’s entrance into politics came during the turbulent 1920s and early 1930s. Benin, known under French rule as the colony of Dahomey, became home to a small but very vocal movement of Western-educated African urban elites who called for improved legal and political rights for coastal Beninese elites. From the turn of the twentieth century to 1945 ...

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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

Christopher Wise

Malian diplomat, ethnographer, devout Muslim, and defender of traditional African culture, was born in 1901 in Bandiagara, Mali, capital of the Toucouleur Empire of the Macina Fulani, which was founded by the Tidjaniya jihadist al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal. At the time of Bâ’s birth, the French had been in control of Bandiagara for nearly a decade. His father, Hampâté, a Fulani militant from Fakala, died two years after Bâ was born. His mother, Kadidja Pâté, was the daughter of Pâté Poullou, a close personal companion of al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal. After her husband’s death, Kadidja remarried Tidjani Amadou Ali Thiam, a Toucouleur Fulani and Louta chief, who became Bâ’s adoptive father. At an early age, Bâ became intimate with Tierno Bokar Tall, the renowned “sage of Bandiagara,” who was his lifelong teacher, spiritual guide, and personal mentor. In 1912 Bâ was enrolled in the French colonialist School of the Hostages remaining ...

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Richard Watts

Amadou Hampaté Bâ was born in the town of Bandiagara, approximately 500 km (300 mi) northeast of Bamako, Mali, and belonged to an important family of Marabouts (Muslim religious leaders). Bâ’s father died when he was two years old, and he was adopted and raised by a chief in the region. Educated at French schools in Bandiagara and Djenné, about 200 km (124 mi) from Bandiagara, Bâ nonetheless managed to continue his traditional Islamic education with famed Islamic teacher Tierno Bokar, a man whose wisdom Bâ later immortalized in Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar (The Life and Teachings of Tierno Bokar, 1980 It was also at this time that Bâ encountered Kullel a storyteller and traditional educator who gave Bâ his first lessons in the African oral tradition Bâ later earned the nickname Amkullel Little Kullel and he honored his teacher by titling the first volume ...

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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

Jeremy Rich

politician, business leader, and historian, was born in the late nineteenth century in Burundi. He belonged to the Batare royal family that had controlled Burundi prior to the entrance of German military officers in the 1890s. He originally came from southern Burundi as his father was a chief in the Vyanda region not far from the town of Bururi. He received a primary education at a German school at Gitega. After the Belgian government took over Burundi following World War I, Baranyanka became one of the most fervent supporters of the new administration in the entire colony. He was a firm supporter of Catholic missions and the development of cash-crop production. Baranyanka converted to Catholicism after undertaking instruction for four years. He established an extremely large coffee business that consisted of thirty-five thousand coffee bushes by 1935. A young Belgian tourist in 1949 expressed the views of most ...

Article

Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

Dantès Bellegarde was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1877. His family had long been at the center of Haitian politics. Bellegarde's mother was Marie Boisson and his father Jean-Louis Bellegarde. His maternal great-grandfather, Jacques Ignace Fresnel, was named judge by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution, who became the first leader of the independent state in 1804 and soon proclaimed himself Emperor Jean-Jacques I. This same great-grandfather was later minister of justice under President Jean-Pierre Boyer, who ruled all of Haiti from 1820 to 1843. Bellegarde's paternal grandfather, Jean-Louis de Bellegarde, was a duke and marshal in Haiti's second empire during the rule of Faustin Soulouque, who declared himself emperor and ruled from 1847 to 1859. Bellegarde's aunt, Argentine Bellegarde (1842–1901), was a noted educator and an early feminist. Bellegarde married Cécile Savain (1875–1965 ...

Article

Teresa Tomkins-Walsh

teacher, historian, author, and lecturer, son of Ellen and Ira B. Bryant Sr., was born in Crockett, Texas, on 18 October 1904. Both Ira Sr. and Ellen were educators. When the family moved to Houston in 1920, Bryant Jr. entered Colored High School (later Booker T. Washington High School). Ira Bryant graduated in January 1924, and then worked aboard a ship to save money for college and travel. Bryant attended Fisk University in Tennessee from 1924 to 1928, graduating with a bachelor's degree. He finished his master's degree at the University of Kansas in 1934 and his Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California in 1948.

In 1929 Bryant began teaching social science at Phillis Wheatley High School in Houston. Working as a teacher, Bryant wrote and published The Development of the Houston Negro Schools (1936 During ...

Article

Teresa Tomkins-Walsh

author, historian, teacher, and pianist, was born Olga Thelma Scott on 26 September 1905 in Houston's Third Ward, the only child of Ella and Walter Scott. Ella Scott, the daughter of slaves, was a full-time wife and mother; she was an excellent seamstress who sewed for her family but also taught neighbors to sew clothes, make quilts, and embroider. Walter Scott worked in a tobacco shop. Later, he followed in his father's footsteps to become a mail carrier, delivering mail to the homes of elite white families in the Second Ward.

Encouraged by the example of her paternal uncle, Emmett J. Scott, Bryant studied hard. She spoke as salutatorian at her Douglass Elementary School graduation in 1918 presenting her essay America s Share Is Our Share Bryant s family expected her to attend college and she expected to study out of state Although there ...

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Article

clerk, farmer, historian, and scion of several chiefly Kaonde lineages was born in Chimimono in present-day northwestern Zambia in 1899. The title chibanza, first held by Jilundu's father, Kunaka Mwanza (d.1916), was brought into being when Kunaka inherited one of the names of Kasongo Chibanza, his mother's maternal uncle. Muyange (d.1901), Jilundu's mother, was a daughter of Kamimbi, son of Kabambala, holder of the kasempa title until his assassination in around 1880. Muyange's mother was Lubanjika, sister of Nsule, holder of the bufuku title. The history of these titles and his defense of their prerogatives were to dominate Jilundu's later life. By 1912 or 1913 Jilundu had moved to the center of his mother's matrilineage, the village of Nsule Bufuku, and enrolled in the South Africa General Mission's (SAGM) newly established Lalafuta boarding school. In 1916 Kunaka Mwanza Chibanza died and was succeeded ...

Article

Pedro Deschamps Chapeaux was born in Havana, Cuba. His notable works include: El negro en el periodismo cubano en el siglo XIX (The Black in Nineteenth Century Cuban Journalism; 1963); El negro en la economía habanera del siglo XIX (The Black in the Nineteenth Century Havana Economy; 1970 ...

Article

Elsie A. Okobi

Nigerian historian, educator, and archivist, was born on 17 December 1917 in Awka, eastern Nigeria. In 1933 he started his secondary education at Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha, before moving to the prestigious Achimota College, Accra, Ghana, in 1936. Two years later he entered Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, an affiliate of Durham University in England, which awarded Durham University degrees. Dike graduated in 1943 with bachelor of arts in English, geography, and literature and returned to Nigeria. In 1944 he went to the United Kingdom on a British Council Scholarship to the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, where he earned an MA in history. In 1947 he enrolled in Kings College, London, for doctoral studies in history. His 1950 dissertation “Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta 1830–1879” (published in 1956 has come to be appreciated as one of the greatest contributions to African historiography Among his ...

Article

Molefi Kete Asante

major Senegalese scholar in the fields of anthropology, history, and physics, was born in the village of Keitou, Senegal, not far from the town of Diourbel in the interior of Senegal on 29 December 1923 By all accounts as a youth he was a serious student and an avid participant in the sports of the village Yet he was always searching to reach higher goals and when the opportunity came for him to study in Dakar and St Louis he quickly took the chance to prove himself He was an extraordinary student noticed by all of his classmates and teachers as someone who could make an enormous contribution to knowledge At an early age Diop had shown a keen mind an argumentative streak and an ability to make logical arguments Diop like most Senegalese children had to learn Islamic traditions as well as Western ones His ancestors and larger ...

Article

Charles Geshekter

Somali linguist and cultural historian who devoted his life to demonstrating the inestimable value of the Somali cultural heritage, was born in northern Somalia. An alternate spelling of his name is Musa Haji Ismail Galaal. He grew up as a camel herder and, during this period, learned oratorical skills that made him a superb public speaker. He attended qurʾanic schools and maintained a lifetime commitment to Islam. Galaal served in the British military during World War II, then became a teacher, and was selected in 1951 to work with the linguist B. W. Andrzejewski at the University of London to help develop a system of writing for the Somali language.

Muuse recognized the inextricable connections between the Somali language and Somali oral literature He tested potential scripts by transcribing oral poems recited by old men of frail health and then reading them back aloud He spent many weeks at the bedside ...

Article

Aninydo Roy

Commenting on the works of Wilson Harris, Jamaican novelist John Hearne said, “No other British Caribbean novelist has made quite such an explicitly and conscious effort … to reduce the material reckonings of everyday life to the significance of myth.” Born in New Amsterdam, Guyana Wilson Harris is the author of more than 25 books of fiction, poetry, and literary criticism. His most well-known works include the novels of The Guyana Quartet (1960–1963); The Four Banks of the River of Space (1990); the book of poems, Eternity to Season (1954, 1978 second edition); and the collection of essays The Radical Imagination (1992). He published his first volume of poetry, Fetish, while serving as a government land surveyor in Guyana in 1951. Palace of the Peacock, the first novel of The Guyana Quartet, appeared in 1960 and ...

Article

Leila Kamali

Historian, editor, and political activist born on 10 December 1921 near Johannesburg, the child of Latvian Jews. Hirson was educated at Hebrew school in Johannesburg, and studied mathematics at the University of Witwatersrand, where he later worked as a physicist. In 1940 he joined the left‐wing Hashomer Hatzair, subsequently becoming a member of various Trotskyist groups. Between 1944 and 1946 he was a political organizer for the Workers' International League.

Hirson participated in setting up black trade unions, in extremely difficult conditions created by the Suppression of Communism Act. He became involved in the Non‐European Unity Movement, and in the late 1950s joined the Congress of Democrats, the white arm of the ANC‐led Congress Alliance.

After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 Hirson and his colleagues highly critical of the Congress Alliance s leadership and policies organized the National Committee for Liberation which advocated sabotage as a substitute for peaceful ...

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Erin D. Somerville

Trinidadian historian, novelist, philosopher, and cricket fan credited with extending Marxist philosophy to black politics. Cyril Lionel Robert James was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad, to Robert, a rural schoolteacher and son of a sugar plantation worker, and Bessie, an avid reader. James won an exhibition to Trinidad's Queen's Royal College at the age of 9 and taught history at the College after graduation. Teaching was coupled with a semi‐professional cricket career and the publication of two early novels, La Divina Pastora (1927) and Triumph (1929).

At the age of 31 James immigrated to England to pursue a career as a novelist. The Trinidadian cricketer Learie Constantine, with whom James lived in Lancashire after a short stay in London, aided his move. James's bond with Constantine was encouraged by a mutual interest in West Indian independence, which climaxed in the publication of The Case for West ...

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Cyril Lionel Robert James was born into an educated family in Tunapuna, in colonial Trinidad. At the age of nine, James earned a scholarship to Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and graduated in 1918. He taught English and history at that college and later taught at the Government Training College for Teachers. During this time he met Alfred Mendes, who with James led an informal group of young intellectuals. James began writing and developing his political and literary ideas with this group. In 1927 his short story “La Divina Pastora” was published by the British Saturday Review of Literature, a significant achievement for both James and Caribbean literature. “La Divina Pastora,” in which a Cocoa worker pleads with her patron saint for help with her romantic life, was notable for its clear portrayal of the rural poor.

James and Mendes founded and ...