Library Isle D
Library Isles of Ancestry & Figures of Note
There are hundreds of Master Teachers and Master Teacher Ancestors that have contributed greatly to the archive of wisdom that better guides our lives. We owe to them the awesome responsibility of being good stewards of their legacy. We must remember them, study them, revere them, and spread their wisdom to the community.
With love, we present to you the Library Conclave of Ancestry & Master Professors.
Angela Yvonne Davis
Angela Davis is an activist, scholar and writer who advocates for the oppressed. She has authored several books, including 'Women, Culture & Politics.'
Angela Davis became a master scholar who studied at the Sorbonne. She joined the U.S. Communist Party and was jailed for charges related to a prison outbreak, though ultimately cleared. Known for books like Women, Race & Class, she has worked as a professor and activist who advocates gender equity, prison reform and alliances across color lines.
Davis was born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama. She grew up in a middle-class neighborhood dubbed "Dynamite Hill," due to many of the African American homes in the area that were bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. Davis' father, Frank, owned a service station, while her mother, Sallye, taught elementary school and was an active member of the NAACP. Sallye would later pursue her master's degree at NYU and Davis would accompany her there as a teenager.
Davis is best known as a radical African American educator and activist for civil rights and other social issues. She knew about racial prejudice from her experiences with discrimination growing up in Alabama. As a teenager, Davis organized interracial study groups, which were broken up by the police. She also knew some of the four African American girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing of 1963.
Education, The Black Panthers and Communism
Davis later moved north and went to Brandeis University in Massachusetts where she studied philosophy with Herbert Marcuse. As a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego, in the late 1960s, she was associated with several groups including the Black Panthers. But she spent most of her time working with the Che-Lumumba Club, which was an all-Black branch of the Communist Party.
Hired to teach at the University of California, Los Angeles, Davis ran into trouble with the school's administration because of her association with communism. They fired her, but she fought them in court and got her job back. Davis still ended up leaving when her contract expired in 1970.
Political Activist, Philosopher, Academic, Author
Anthony T. Browder is an author, publisher, cultural historian, artist, and an educational consultant.
Mr. Browder is the founder and director of IKG Cultural Resources and has devoted 30 years researching ancient Egyptian history, science, philosophy and culture.
He has traveled to Egypt 54 times since 1980 and is currently director of the ASA Restoration Project, which is funding the excavation and restoration of the 25th dynasty tomb of Karakhamun in Luxor, Egypt.
Historian, Archeologist, Author
Outside the elite circle of activists in the African diaspora community or the small gang of progressive journalists who appreciate her cause, Her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chinombori Quao may not be a household name. Yet the message of truth she bears re-echoes every day in the plundered cities, the poverty-stricken villages, and in the chambers of power in Africa.
Despite her pedigree and accomplishment in her chosen career as a family medical doctor and successful entrepreneur, Dr. Chihombori-Quao, until recently, would only have been recorded as one illustrious diaspora African in the United States. Had she minded her business or turned down the political position offered her by the African Union (AU), she might not have had the meteoric shot into a global spotlight that has trailed her in the last few months. An accomplished professional and community personality, cautiously distant from the blighting importunities of showbiz, Arikana was just a fine, proud African mama deploying her talents, time and treasure to global health philanthropy and projecting Africa until Providence created a political launch-pad for her aspirations.
Upon acceptance of her appointment as the AU Permanent Representative to the United States of America in December 2016, Dr. Chihombori-Quao mustered her entrepreneurial drive and activism to galvanize peoples of African descent against current neo-colonialism and continuous western interference in Africa. In powerful speeches calling for African unification, she spoke out strongly against colonial pillaging of Africa, and picked out France especially, for atrocious neo-colonial exploitation of its colonies nearly fifty years after these countries became independent.
In one of such speeches, she had told the world: “We are the original people and we have every reason to stand up on the tallest mountains to proclaim who we are…We are beautiful, intelligent, sophisticated, highly adaptable and totally indestructible people – the Africans.” In justification of this indestructibility, she had remarked: “Any other race that would have gone through what we’ve been subjected to would have been extinct and that’s the truth.” Consequently, “…for Africa to take its rightful place on the world stage,” she argued that, “the gutter of the mind that we have lived in for centuries, must be cleaned out.” Speaking at another forum about how Europe underdeveloped Africa she observed: “Everybody is talking about the monkeys and the squirrels in the room, but no one wants to touch the 10,000-pound gorilla in the room, and that is our thinking, of the African people. How much do we understand our Africa? Why is it that the richest continent on Earth is painted as the poorest?”
Taking a swipe at the most virulent of colonial interlopers, she stated: “Today, France is taking out of Francophone Africa over US$500 billion. We, the Africans, the poor countries, are giving France US$500 billion year-in year-out.” She argued further that Africa must tell “France that the $500 billion you are taking out of Africa every year, no more. France needs to be the Third World developing country, not Africa. No more shall we continue to be exploited. France can no longer take $500 billion out of Africa.”
Shortly after these comments, Dr. Quao was unilaterally relieved of her position as the AU ambassador to the US by the AU Commission chairman, Chad President Moussa Faki Mahama who holds the African Union presidency in 2019. Enraged by the unjustified dismissal, a section of the African diaspora community petitioned the AU authorities and demanded her reinstatement. This diaspora community that knew her and her activities quite well felt she must have been dismissed for being outspoken and critical of neo-colonial tendencies fostered by the West, especially France, to keep Africa in perpetual poverty. To get to the root of the matter they had raised the following questions: “Why was she dismissed, or better, who benefits from her removal? Were African heads of state and governments consulted? Who called the shot? Or is Africa, and peoples of African descent, still facing the debilitating effects of modern colonialism or neo-colonialism?”
However, in reaction to the petition and growing antagonism towards the AU over the matter, the AU in a November 19, 2019 communique stated that Arikana was dismissed for the way she misconducted herself while in office. According to the AU statement, “a high-level team was deployed to the AU Representational Mission to the USA in Washington DC from 16 to 26 October 2019 to carry out a supervisory audit of the Office activities. During this mission, the team found evidence, corroborated by Dr Quao that she initiated and implemented with AU funds, activities of the following entities that have no AUC formal approval or legal link to the African Union, nor any of its organs.” The statement further added that the “team found that the above entities, initiatives, associations and/or corporates have conducted” some activities backed by Dr. Quao “without prior knowledge or consent and against the rules of the African Union.”
Just like usual trite defences given by governments in trumped-up charges against oppositions, the AU supposedly investigated the allegation only after it had issued a dismissal letter. Little wonder, former president Jerry Rawlings would question the independence of the AU and criticise the dismissal as a “shameful behaviour” and “an act that can be described as coming from French-controlled colonised minds”.
For the benefit of those who do not understand the import of Chihombori-Quao’s revelation, it is pertinent that the predicament of the African people in the hands of colonial interlopers is put in perspective. As well documented in Walter Rodney’s 1972 book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa and Kwame Nkrumah’s 1965 seminal work, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage Of Imperialism, since the 1950s when France literally plundered and destroyed Sekou Toure’s Guinea over the latter’s clamour for independence, French African colonies have maintained a colonization continuation pact that puts $500 billion yearly into French Treasury. This psychopathic blend of paternalism and parasitism justifies the irrational sum as colonial tax for the benefits of slavery and colonization. Besides, the pact also demands that African countries deposit their national monetary reserves in the Central Bank of France, report to France annual reserve and balance, and also privileges France with the right of first refusal on any raw or natural resource discovered in the ex-colonies.
Among others, the pact also grants first consideration to French companies and interests in the award of government contracts; exclusive right to supply military equipment and train the country military officers; right for France to pre-deploy troops and intervene militarily in the country to defend its interests; obligation to make French the official language of the country and the language for education; obligation to use France colonial currency FCFA; renunciation to enter into military alliance with any other country unless authorised by France; and obligation to ally with France in situation of war or global crisis.
Medical Doctor, Activist, Educator, Diplomat, Entrepreneur
Arthur Bertram Cuthbert Walker, Jr.
Astrophysicist Arthur Bertram Cuthbert Walker was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 24, 1936, the only child of Cuthbert Walker, an attorney and native of Barbados, and the former Hilda Forte, a social worker. His mother fought to facilitate his early exposure to science at his elementary school in Harlem, New York and his study of chemistry and physics at the Bronx High School of Science. She also influenced his decision to apply to the Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland where he majored in physics, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1957. He continued his education in physics at the University of Illinois, receiving his master’s degree in 1958 and his doctorate in nuclear physics in 1962 with the dissertation titled “Photomeson Production from Neutrons Bound in Helium and Deuterium.”
Though his Ph.D. was in nuclear physics, Walker eventually became a pioneer in the field of X-ray and ultraviolet solar radiation and in designing specialized telescopes carried aboard spacecraft to photograph the sun and its corona. His professional career began when he entered military service in 1962 as an Air Force second lieutenant assigned to its weapons laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. There he helped to construct instrumentation for an experiment to launch a satellite to measure Van Allen belt radiation, something that sparked his interest in space travel and scientific experiments conducted in outer space. From 1965 to 1974 he worked at the Space Physics Laboratory of the Aerospace Corporation in California conducting cutting-edge experiments involving the sun and the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
Walker arrived at Stanford University in 1974 as a professor of physics and applied physics. Momentously, his first doctoral student was future astronaut Sally K. Ride, the first female to orbit the Earth. When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after launching in 1986, killing all aboard, it was Walker who was appointed by the government to chair the presidential commission that investigated the disaster. In the 1990s he led a team of scientists who, among other things, were the first to apply normal incidence X-ray optical systems to astronomical observation. One of the spectacular photos of the sun captured by his equipment was used on the cover of the prestigious journal Science. When the same photo was shown at a convention of the American Astronomical Society, the crowd burst into applause.
Walker is well remembered for advising minority race and female scientists. Over a period of three decades, Walker mentored close to 40 African American who got their doctorates in physics at Stanford, a figure twice as large as the number of black doctorates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) over the same period and significantly more than any other university in the nation.
At the close of his career, Walker and his colleagues had begun a collaboration to use X-ray spectroscopy to create 3-D images to reveal the composition of celestial bodies. Considered the West Coast dean and godfather of black physicists, Walker, a member of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity, died of cancer on April 29, 2001 at his home on Stanford’s campus at the age of 64. He was survived by his wife, Victoria, a daughter, two stepsons, and four grandchildren.
Born to slave parents in 1838 in Crawford County, Arkansas, Bass Reeves would become the first black U.S. Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi River and one of the greatest frontier heroes in our nation’s history.
Owned by a man named William Reeves, a farmer and politician, Bass took the surname of his owner, like other slaves of the time. His first name came from his grandfather, Basse Washington
Working alongside his parents, Reeves started out as a water boy until he was old enough to become a field hand. In about 1846, William Reeves moved his operations, family, and slaves to Grayson County, Texas.
Bass was a tall young man, at 6’2”, with good manners and a sense of humor. George Reeves, William’s son, later made him his valet, bodyguard, and personal companion. When the Civil War broke out, Texas sided with the Confederacy and George Reeves went into battle, taking Bass with him.
It was during these years of the Civil War that Bass parted company from Reeves, some say because Bass beat up George after a dispute in a card game. Others believe that Bass heard too much about the “freeing of slaves” and simply ran away. In any event, Bass fled to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) where he took refuge with the Seminole, Cherokee, and Creek Indians, learning their customs, languages, and tracking skills. Here, he also honed his firearm skills, becoming very quick and accurate with a pistol. Though Reeves claimed to be “only fair” with a rifle, he was barred on a regular basis from competitive turkey shoots.
“Freed” by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and no longer a fugitive, Reeves left Indian Territory and bought land near Van Buren, Arkansas, where he became a successful farmer and rancher. A year later, he married Nellie Jennie from Texas and immediately began to have a family. Raising 10 children on their homestead — five girls and five boys, the family lived happily on the farm. During this time, oral history states that Reeves sometimes served as a scout and guide for U.S. Deputy Marshals going into Indian Territory on business for the Van Buren Federal Court, which had jurisdiction over Indian Territory.
Black Hero Marshal
Benjamin Banneker was a largely self-educated mathematician, astronomer, compiler of almanacs and writer.
Who Was Benjamin Banneker?
A free Black man who owned a farm near Baltimore, Benjamin Banneker was largely self-educated in astronomy and mathematics. He was later called upon to assist in the surveying of territory for the construction of the nation's capital. He also became an active writer of almanacs and exchanged letters with Thomas Jefferson, politely challenging him to do what he could to ensure racial equality.
Born on November 9, 1731, in Ellicott's Mills, Maryland, Banneker was the son of an ex-slave named Robert and his wife, Mary Banneky. Mary was the daughter of an Englishwoman named Molly Welsh, a former indentured servant, and her husband, Bannka, an ex-slave whom she freed and who asserted that he came from tribal royalty in West Africa.
Because both of his parents were free, Benjamin escaped the wrath of slavery as well. He was taught to read by his maternal grandmother and for a very short time attended a small Quaker school. Banneker was primarily self-educated. His early accomplishments included constructing an irrigation system for the family farm and a wooden clock that was reputed to keep accurate time and ran for more than 50 years until his death. In addition, Banneker taught himself astronomy and accurately forecasted lunar and solar eclipses. After his father's passing, he ran his own farm for years, cultivating a business selling tobacco via crops.
Interests in Astronomy and Surveying
Banneker's talents and intelligence eventually came to the attention of the Ellicott family, entrepreneurs who had made a name and fortune by building a series of gristmills in the Baltimore area in the 1770s. George Ellicott had a large personal library and loaned Banneker numerous books on astronomy and other fields.
In 1791, Andrew Ellicott, George’s cousin, hired Banneker to assist in surveying territory for the nation’s capital city. He worked in the observatory tent using a zenith sector to record the movement of the stars. However, due to a sudden illness, Banneker was only able to work for Ellicott for about three months.
Banneker's true acclaim, however, came from his almanacs, which he published for six consecutive years during the later years of his life, between 1792 and 1797. These handbooks included his own astronomical calculations as well as opinion pieces, literature and medical and tidal information, with the latter particularly useful to fishermen. Outside of his almanacs, Banneker also published information on bees and calculated the cycle of the 17-year locust.
Letter to Jefferson
Banneker's accomplishments extended into other realms as well, including civil rights. In 1791, Thomas Jefferson was secretary of state and Banneker considered the respected Virginian, though a slaveholder, to also be open to viewing African Americans as more than slaves. Thus, he wrote Jefferson a letter hoping that he would “readily embrace every opportunity to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions which so generally prevail with respect to us." To further support his point, Banneker included a handwritten manuscript of an almanac for 1792, containing his astronomical calculations.
In his letter, Banneker acknowledged he was “of the African race” and a free man. He recognized that he was taking “a liberty” writing to Jefferson, which would be unacceptable considering “the almost general prejudice and prepossession which is so prevalent in the world against those of my complexion.” Banneker then respectfully chided Jefferson and other patriots for their hypocrisy, enslaving people like him while fighting the British for their own independence.
Jefferson quickly acknowledged Banneker's letter, writing a response. He told Banneker that he took “the liberty of sending your almanac to Monsieur de Condorcet [secretary of the French Academy of Sciences]...because I considered it as a document to which your whole colour had a right for their justification against the doubts which have been entertained of them.” Banneker published Jefferson’s letter alongside his original piece of correspondence in his 1793 almanac. Banneker's outspokenness with regard to the issue of slavery earned him the widespread support of the abolitionist societies in Maryland and Pennsylvania, both of which helped him publish his almanac.
Astronomer, Mathematician, Writer
Bibi Titi Mohamed
here has always been almost no mention of women in liberation struggles across Africa. However, that does not prove their inexistence; they just do not get as much exposure. Here is Bibi Titi Mohammed, she dared to venture into an all-man business and proved her revolutionary firepower.
Bibi Titi was an influential leader during Tanganyika’s liberation movement. She was the leader of Umoja wa Wanawake wa Tanganyika, Swahili for Union of Women of Tanganyika (UWT), the women’s wing of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU).
She was born in Dar es Salaam in 1926 and was married off at the age of 14 to an older man after she partially completed her primary school education. She was then divorced by her husband after giving birth to a girl. She later married twice more, this time to men of her choice.
Her involvement in nationalist struggles started in 1950. In 1954, TANU was formed under the leadership of Julius Nyerere, and she was granted membership card No. 16.
In 1955, she was asked to chair the UWT, and within three months of her new position, she successfully enrolled more than 5,000 women as TANU members. The women’s wing was set to play a big role in the independence struggles in Tanganyika and Zanzibar.
UWT performed very well under her leadership especially in selling TANU’s ideals to the masses. It also unified women and gave them one voice in the fight against colonialism.
Her organisation did so well that it earned recognition in TANU’s 1964 constitution, which declared that there would be a place for women in the party: women would be entitled to all membership rights and every party branch would have a women’s wing.
In 1957, Mwalimu Nyerere recommended that Bibi Titi tour Musoma to continue the propagation of TANU’s ideals.
Now that her popularity was spreading she realized that pursuing further studies in the English Language would become quite handy especially in the forthcoming elections.
After an initial course in English Language, she left for the UK for ten weeks and returned to Tanganyika after successfully completing her studies.
In the elections of 1961, Bibi Titi was elected unopposed as the leader of two districts – Mafia and Rufiji.
After the country had gone independent, Mwalimu Nyerere appointed her Assistant Minister in the Ministry Of National and Cultural Development.
In 1965, her relationship with Mwalimu crumbled and, she and the Minister for Defence, Hon. Michael Kamaliza were charged with treason. The duo was found guilty and each given a life sentence.
Bibi Titi received presidential pardon two years later but faced abandonment by her friends upon her release. Earlier on, her husband had deserted her during the trial. Even her most trusted political associates deserted her.
She kept a low profile after her release and her popularity dwindled, but the legacy she had left for women and her country will remain to be told many centuries to come.
Bibi Titi succumbed to death due to heart complications at Net Care Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 5, 2000.
Brother Bobby Hemmitt is a no-holds-barred, spiritual and down to earth speaker. He deciphers the mysteries that have been locked into the "mystery system" and brings the universe back to "BLACK" life. Many of Bobby Hemmitt’s lectures range from 2 to 10 hours. Be prepared though. Pretty much any Bobby Hemmitt lecture will blow you away with powerful information.
Bobby Hemmitt has put two decades of research into the esoteric tradition. Hemmitt and Dr. Phil Valentine have been teaching and lecturing on metaphysics since the 90s. They started way before YouTube and also before it was popular. Nowadays Bobby Hemmitt is world renowned for his work in the occult.
Bobby Hemmitt is a scholar of esoteric knowledge. Interest in Hemmitt’s lessons has been growing but his YouTube clips and internet radio shows have really grown his audience exponentially in the past ten years. Hemmitt’s analytical study and dynamic style of public delivery that encompasses a colossal volume of research that he continuously gives to you within the presentation is unique and keeps people looking for his insight on various matters.
Booker T. Coleman
Kaba Hiawatha Kamene was born with the name, Booker Taliaferro Coleman, Jr., at New York Hospital, on Monday, November 16, 1953. He is a teacher, consultant, administrator, staff developer and curriculum writer. Kaba Hiawatha has been an educator in Bronx, N.Y., since October 6, 1979. He married Sharen Deans on May 1st, 1981. They have three (3) children, two (2) girls Sasha (b.1984), Candace (b.1988) and one (1) boy Heru (b.1994). Throughout the 90’s Kaba Hiawatha served as Curriculum and Staff specialist on several New Vision and Charter School teams. He now is a staff developer at the Harriet Tubman Charter School in Bronx, N.Y. In September 2001, he implemented his lifelong goal of developing an African-Centered Science Academy named, “Per Ankh (House Of Life)”. Kaba Hiawatha functions as the Academy’s Principal Facilitator and Chief Executive Officer. Recently, Kaba has opened a second school in Boston.
Kaba Hiawatha Kamene received his Bachelors Degree in International Politics from New York University, his minor was in Caribbean Studies (June77). He got his first (1st) Masters in Art from Hunter College, N.Y. History (June 87). His second (2nd) Masters was in Science of Educational Administration and Supervision, from City College of New York (Feb.88).
Over Kaba Hiawatha’s long career in Education, he has consulted many Boards of Education, Schools, Community, Parent and Student groups. He has visited many classrooms around the country and implemented successful strategies in the teaching/learning process. He is firmly dedicated to the belief that culture plays a vitally important role in education and proudly credits many of his academic views to his teacher world-renowned, educator, Professor John Henrik Clarke.
Historian, Educator, Scholar
Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington was one of the foremost African American leaders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, founding the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.
Who Was Booker T. Washington?
Born into slavery, Booker T. Washington put himself through school and became a teacher after the Civil War. In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama (now known as Tuskegee University), which grew immensely and focused on training African Americans in agricultural pursuits. A political adviser and writer, Washington clashed with intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois over the best avenues for racial uplift.
Businessman, Innovator, Philosopher
Conceiçāo Maria Viana
To listen to Conceição Maria Viana, a descendant of escaped slaves, is to hear the voice of Brazil’s once silenced past, buried deep in the forest amid the babassu palm trees.
Viana's grandfather, Benedito Zacarias Serra, was a runaway slave who founded one of thousands of clandestine settlements known as quilombos before slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888.
Today, 126 years after slavery ended, Serra's quilombo lives on as a testament to the resilience of Afro-Brazilian culture, with about 100 families celebrating many of the same traditions — and facing many of the same challenges — from when Santo Antônio dos Pretos was founded.
Most quilombos are Portuguese- or Portuguese creole-speaking but a variety of African-influenced dialects have endured in pockets of cultural resistance, which have also held on to traditional African structures of community leaders and elders.
Some estimates suggest there were up to 5,000 quilombo communities across 24 states during 17th and 18th century colonial Brazil, with many hidden in remote parts of the thick jungle to conceal them from slavemasters and officials. They ranged from just a few dozen inhabitants to the biggest quilombo, Palmares, where the population reached an estimated 20,000 people after the Dutch invasion of Brazil. Palmares was invaded by the army in 1694 and its leader, Zumbi dos Palmares, killed on Nov. 20, which is now Black Awareness Day.
Today, the government’s Brazil Quilombola Program has mapped more than 3,500 communities, and provided many with land titles — a right enshrined in the 1988 Constitution — as well as social support, including bringing electricity to 20,000 quilombo homes between 2004 and 2008.
In a 2009 report, the special secretary for the promoting of racial equality said the land titles were a “historical redress.”
“In a society like Brazil’s, marred by centuries of widespread discrimination, it is not enough that the state refrain from discrimination in its laws,” it said.
But while many residents of the villages, known as quilombolas, now own the land they live on, some are still living without clean water, and with limited access to health care and education.
Viana’s small community of Santo Antônio dos Pretos, in the northern state of Maranhão, is cut into a clearing and surrounded by swamps and dense forest, where goats and dogs roam between the homes made of mud, branches and palm thatch.
It is linked by a single potholed dirt road to the nearest town of Codó, 30 miles away, and cut off from the rest of the world whenever rain makes the road impassable.
Santo Antônio dos Pretos is marooned in another era, frozen in time and swallowed by the towering palms and tamarind trees.
“I was born and raised here,” said Viana, 82, at the home she shares with her daughter Suzete Viana, 62.
Their simple mud house is neatly divided into three rooms, all cast with an orange hue from the sun filtering through the clay tiles. At the back there is a simple mud stove, embers still burning from Suzete Viana’s cooking. In the bedroom, a narrow bed is pressed against the wall and a hammock strung across the middle of the room.
Viana said that during her grandfather’s time, officials would raid the quilombos, hunting escaped slaves and returning them to their owners.
Quilombos were not only refuges from the brutal slave quarters, called senzalas, but they were also places where escaped slaves could freely practice banned religions with African roots, including Terecô, a form of worship carried out through music and dance.
“All the cultural dances and music started in the slave quarters, but the Terecô dance happened only in the forest where the quilombos settled because it was banned,” Viana said.
Viana recounted a family legend of Santo Antônio dos Pretos’ resilience and strength.
“There was a man called Lieutenant Vitorino who knew Terecô took place here and so he came here to Santo Antônio to stop the music.”
Dr. A.A. Yosef ben-Jochannan
Africana studies professor Yosef Alfredo Antonio ben-Jochannan was born on December 31, 1918 in Ethiopia to a Puerto Rican woman, Julia Matta and an Ethiopian man, Kriston ben-Jochannan. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to St. Croix, part of the United States Virgin Islands, where he grew up as an only child. ben-Jochannan attended the Christian Stead School in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. After graduation from high school in 1936, ben-Jochannan attended the University of Puerto Rico where, in 1938, he received his B.S. degree in engineering. During that summer, ben-Jochannan’s father sent him to Ethiopia to study firsthand the ancient history of African people. He returned home and received his M.A. degree in anthropology from the University of Havana in 1939. ben-Jochannan holds Ph.D. degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Havana.
In 1940, ben-Jochannan immigrated to the United States and working as senior draftsman for architecture firm, Emery Roth & Sons, in New York City. Seven years later, he began leading tour groups to Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan. He led the groups twice a year for several decades. ben-Jochannan’s teaching career began in 1950 at Malcolm-King Harlem College and City College of New York in New York City. In 1976, he became an adjunct professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. ben-Jochannan has worked closely with other notable Africana studies scholars including John Henrik Clarke, Edward Scobie, and Leonard Jeffries.
ben-Jochannan has written and published over forty-nine books and papers including, We the Black Jews, Black Man of the Nile and His Family, and Africa: Mother of Major Western Religions.
Historian, Scholar, Teacher
Dr. Amos Wilson
Dr. Amos N. Wilson was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on February 23, 1941. He completed his undergraduate degree at the Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, mastered at The New School for Social Research, and attained a Ph.D. degree from Fordham University in New York. Wilson worked as a psychologist, social caseworker, supervising probation officer and as a training administrator in the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice. As an academic, Wilson also taught at the City University of New York from 1981 to 1986 and at the College of New Rochelle from 1987 to 1995.
Wilson believed the vast power differentials between Africans and non-Africans was the major social problem of the 21st century. He believed these power differentials, and not simply racist attitudes, was chiefly responsible for the existence of racism, and the continuing domination of people of African descent across the globe—white people exercise racism because they have the power to do so. Wilson passed on January 14, 1995
Psychologist, Educator, Scholar, Historian
Dr. Ayanna Howard
Dr. Ayanna Howard is an educator, researcher, and innovator. Her academic career is highlighted by her focus on technology development for intelligent agents that must interact with and in a human-centered world, as well as on the education and mentoring of students in the engineering and computing fields. Dr. Howard has made significant contributions in the technology areas of artificial intelligence, computer vision, and robotics. Her published research, currently numbering over 250 peer-reviewed publications, has been widely disseminated in international journals and conference proceedings. She has over 20 years of R&D experience covering a number of projects that have been supported by various agencies including: National Science Foundation, Procter and Gamble, NASA, ExxonMobil, Intel, and the Grammy Foundation. She continues to produce novel research and ideas focused on applications that span from assistive robots in the home to therapy gaming apps to remote robotic exploration of extreme environments. By working at NASA before entering the academic world, she brings a unique perspective to the academic environment.
Currently, Dr. Howard is the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Professor and Chair of the School of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing. She also holds a faculty appointment in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering where she functions as the Director of the Human-Automation Systems Lab (HumAnS). In 2015, she founded and now directs the $3M traineeship initiative in healthcare robotics and functions as the lead investigator on the NSF undergraduate summer research program in robotics. She received her B.S. in Engineering from Brown University, her M.S.E.E. from the University of Southern California, her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, and her M.B.A. from Claremont University, Drucker School of Management. To date, her unique accomplishments have been highlighted through a number of awards and articles, including highlights in TIME Magazine, Black Enterprise, and USA Today, as well as being recognized as one of the 23 most powerful women engineers in the world by Business Insider and one of the Top 50 U.S. Women in Tech by Forbes. In 2013, she also founded Zyrobotics as a university spin-off and holds a position in the company as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Zyrobotics, LLC is currently licensing technology derived from her research and has released their first suite of mobile therapy and educational products for children with differing needs. From 1993-2005, Dr. Howard was at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, where she was a Senior Robotics Researcher and Deputy Manager in the Office of the Chief Scientist. She has also served as the Associate Director of Research for the Georgia Tech Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, Chair of the multidisciplinary Robotics Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech, and the Associate Chair for Faculty Development in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Roboticist, AI Scientist
Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop
"In practice it is possible to determine directly the skin colour and hence the ethnic affiliations of the ancient Egyptians by microscopic analysis in the laboratory; I doubt if the sagacity of the researchers who have studied the question has overlooked the possibility." --Cheikh Anta Diop
Cheikh Anta Diop, a modern champion of African identity, was born in Diourbel, Senegal on December 29, 1923. At the age of twenty-three, he journeyed to Paris, France to continue advanced studies in physics. Within a very short time, however, he was drawn deeper and deeper into studies relating to the African origins of humanity and civilization.
Becoming more and more active in the African student movements then demanding the independence of French colonial possessions, he became convinced that only by reexamining and restoring Africa's distorted, maligned and obscured place in How ComYou Com could the physical and psychological shackles of colonialism be lifted from our Motherland and from African people dispersed globally.
His initial doctoral dissertation submitted at the University of Paris, Sorbonne in 1951, based on the premise that Egypt of the pharaohs was an African civilization--was rejected. Regardless, this dissertation was published by Presence Africaine under the title Nations Negres et Culture in 1955 and won him international acclaim.
Two additional attempts to have his doctorate granted were turned back until 1960 when he entered his defense session with an array of sociologists, anthropologists and historians and successfully carried his argument. After nearly a decade of titanic and herculean effort, Diop had finally won his Docteur es Lettres! In that same year, 1960, were published two of his other works--the Cultural Unity of Black Africa and and Precolonial Black Africa.
During his student days, Cheikh Anta Diop was an avid political activist. From 1950 to 1953 he was the Secretary-General of the Rassemblement Democratique Africain (RDA) and helped establish the first Pan-African Student Congress in Paris in 1951. He also participated in the First World Congress of Black Writers and Artists held in Paris in 1956 and the second such Congress held in Rome in 1959.
Upon returning to Senegal in 1960, Dr. Diop continued his research and established a radiocarbon laboratory in Dakar. In 1966, the First World Black Festival of Arts and Culture held in Dakar, Senegal honored Dr. Diop and Dr. W.E.B. DuBois as the scholars who exerted the greatest influence on African thought in twentieth century.
In 1974, a milestone occurred in the English-speaking world when the African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality was finally published. It was also in 1974 that Diop and Theophile Obenga collectively and soundly reaffirmed the African origin of pharaonic Egyptian civilization at a UNESCO sponsored symposium in Cairo, Egypt. In 1981, Diop's last major work, Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology was published.
Dr. Diop was the Director of Radiocarbon Laboratory at the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa (IFAN) at the University of Dakar. He sat on numerous international scientific committees and achieved recognition as one of the leading historians, Egyptologists, linguists and anthropologists in the world. He traveled widely, lectured incessantly and was cited and quoted voluminously. He was regarded by many as the modern `pharaoh' of African studies. Cheikh Anta Diop died quietly in sleep in Dakar, Senegal on February 7, 1986.
Historian, Scholar, Teacher
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing
Frances Cress Welsing (born March 18, 1935, Chicago), is an African American psychiatrist practicing in Washington, D.C.. She is noted for "Cress Theory of Color Confrontation", which explores the practice of white supremacy. She is the author of The Isis Papers; The Keys to the Colors (1991).
Welsing states that a system is practiced by the global white minority, on both conscious and unconscious levels, to ensure their genetic survival by any means necessary. According to Welsing, this system attacks people of color, particularly people of African descent, in the nine major areas of people's activity: economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war. Welsing believes that it is imperative that people of color, especially people of African descent, understand how the system of white supremacy works in order to, according to her, dismantle it and bring true justice to planet Earth.
In The Isis Papers she postulates the melanin theory, a hypothesis that has been called racist, pseudoscientific and black supremacist, that white people are the genetically defective descendants of albino mutants. She posits that because of this "defective" mutation, they may have been forcibly expelled from Africa, among other possibilities. Welsing proposes that, because it is so easy for pure whiteness to be genetically lost during interracial breeding, light-skinned peoples developed an aggressive colonial urge and their societies dominated others militarily in order to preserve this light-skinned purity. Welsing ascribes certain inherent and behavioral differences between black and white people to a "melanin deficiency" in white people. Welsing proposes what she calls a "functional definition of racism":
Functional Definition Of Racism = White Supremacy = Apartheid: As a black behavioral scientist and practicing psychiatrist, my own functional definition of racism (white supremacy) is as follows: "Racism (white supremacy) is the local and global power system and dynamic, structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as white, whether consciously or subconsciously determined; which consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, speech, action, and emotional response, as conducted, simultaneously in all areas of people activity (economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and war); for the ultimate purpose of white genetic survival and to prevent white genetic annihilation on planet Earth - a planet upon which the vast and overwhelming majority of people are classified as nonwhite (black, brown, red and yellow) by white skinned people, and all of the nonwhite people are genetically dominant (in terms of skin coloration) compared to the genetic recessive white skin people."
Welsing discusses her "Unified Field Theory Psychiatry" as a broader framework, encompassing biology, psychology, and physics, as prerequisite to understanding the etiology of a unified field of energy phenomena, specifically the "behavior-energy" underlying racial conflict. She states that her position is more analogous to the "determinist" model of physicist Albert Einstein, than to the "indeterminacy" theories of Max Born and Werner Heisenberg. Furthermore, she asserts that both homosexuality and sexism are necessarily derived from this behavior-energy system.
As a psychiatrist, a large part of Welsing's writings also pertain to Freudian theory, and particularly to analysis of the meaning of symbols. She presents an extensive interpretation of broad categories of symbolic objects: guns and weapons, Christ and the Holy Cross, ball games, boxing, smoking objects, paper money and gold.
Other supremacist essays concern the meaning and symbolism of rape and of justifiable homicide. Her analysis of mass-homicide, or genocide, concludes that the Holocaust and systematic destruction of European Jewry was caused by white fear of genetic annihilation by "non-Aryan" peoples. Therefore she believes that the function of Jews as a "Chosen People" is to illustrate to all non-white ethnicities that they are in peril of extermination:
No matter how much you may shrink the size of your nose, no matter how many doctors, lawyers, judges, professors, scholars you may produce, no matter how many Einsteins, Freuds, Marxes, or Rubensteins you produce, no matter how much money, diamonds, and gold you may obtain, if you are classified as "non-white" under the conditions of white supremacy domination, when the hammer of white supremacy falls, you will be under that hammer.
According to Welsing, various cultural practices express white people's sense of their own inferiority:
On both St. Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, the white male gives gifts of chocolate candy with nuts…. If his sweetheart ingests "chocolate with nuts", the white male can fantasize that he is genetically equal to the Black male…. Is it not also curious that when white males are young and vigorous, they attempt to master the large brown balls, but as they become older and wiser, they psychologically resign themselves to their inability to master the large brown balls? Their focus then shifts masochistically to hitting the tiny white golf balls in disgust and resignation — in full final realization of white genetic recessiveness.
Welsing further contends that chauvinism of white males is rooted in envy, "because Black is always genetically dominant to white":
...I have said all of the above to state that, yes, there is envy in the white supremacy culture, but it began with the white male's envy of the genetic power residing in the Black male's testicles and phallus. Perhaps there was also envy of the comparatively longer length of the Black phallus. The sense of his relative genetic weakness and inferiority compared to Black males (because Black is always genetically dominant to white) caused the white male to attempt to project "inferiority" on white females as well.
Welsing has been criticized for stating that black male homosexuality was imposed on the black man by the white man in order to reduce the black population,  that black homosexuality is a sign of weakness and that homosexual patterns of behavior are simply expressions of black male self-submission to other males in the area of sex, as well as in other areas such as economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, and war.
Psychologist, Educator, Historian, Scholar
Dr. Huey P. Newton
Huey P. Newton was an African American activist best known for founding the militant Black Panther Party with Bobby Seale in 1966.
Who Was Huey P. Newton?
In 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the left-wing Black Panther Party for Self Defense in Oakland, California. The organization was central to the Black Power movement, making headlines with its controversial rhetoric and militaristic style. Newton faced a number of criminal charges over the years and at one point fled to Cuba before returning to the U.S. and earning his doctorate. Struggling with drug and alcohol addiction in his later years, he was killed in 1989 in Oakland.
Background and Early Life
Huey Percy Newton was born on February 17, 1942, in Monroe, Louisiana. Newton helped establish the African American political organization the Black Panther Party, and became a leading figure in the Black Power movement of the 1960s. The youngest of seven siblings, he and his family moved to Oakland, California when Newton was a toddler. Though later stating he was close to his family, the youngster had a difficult time early in life, which was reflected in highly erratic behavior at school and on the streets.
Despite having multiple suspensions and run-ins with the law as a teen, Newton began to take his education seriously, finding inspiration when his older brother Melvin earned a masters in social work. Although Newton graduated high school in 1959, he was considered barely literate. He nonetheless became his own teacher, learning to read by himself.
Creation of Black Panthers
In the mid-1960s, Newton decided to pursue his education at Merritt College, during which time he received a months-long prison term for a knife assault, and later attended the University of San Francisco School of Law . It was at Merritt where he met Seale. The two were briefly involved with political groups at the school before they set out to create one of their own. Founded in 1966, they called their group the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Unlike many of the other social and political organizers of the time, they took a more militant stance to the plight of Black communities in America. A famous photograph shows Newton — the group's minister of defense — holding a gun in one hand and a spear in the other.
The group set forth its political goals in a document entitled the Ten-Point Program, which called for better housing, jobs and education for African Americans. It also called for an end to economic exploitation of Black communities, along with military exemption. The organization itself was not afraid to punctuate its message with dramatic appearances. For example, to protest a gun bill in 1967, members of the Panthers entered the California Legislature armed. (Newton actually wasn't present at the demonstration.) The action was a shocking one that made news across the country, and Newton emerged as a leading figure in the Black militant movement.
Activist, Leader, Educator, Pan-African
Dr. Ivan Van Sertima
Throughout his career as a scholar and author, Ivan Van Sertima worked to transform the way people viewed and taught African history. Van Sertima was born on January 26, 1935, in Kitty Village, Guyana when it was still a British colony. After completing high school, he worked as a Press and Broadcasting Officer for Guyana Information Services. In the late 1960s, Van Sertima did weekly broadcasts to Africa and the Caribbean as a journalist.
In 1964, Van Sertima married Maria Nagy and together they adopted two boys. He then attended the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, graduating in 1969 as an honor student with a Bachelor of Arts degree in African languages and literature. In 1970, Van Sertima began his graduate work at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. After his divorce from Maria, he married Jacqueline Pattern in 1984 and gained two stepdaughters.
Van Sertima began publishing before he came to the United States. In 1967, he published a dictionary of Swahili legal terms. While earning his graduate degree, he published his most famous work, They Came Before Columbus, in 1976. The book introduced his argument that people of African origin came to Central and South America long before Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. The book achieved widespread attention in the African American community and gave a different insight into African history.
In 1977 Van Sertima received his Master’s degree and became an Associate Professor of African Studies at Rutgers in 1979. In the same year he founded the Journal of African Civilizations, editing and publishing the journal for decades. The Journal of African Civilizations help transform how African history was viewed and taught. Its articles described early African advances in agriculture, mathematics, arts, engineering, architecture, writing, medicine, astronomy, and navigation.
Van Sertima also discussed many of these topics in his several published books including Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern (1983), Black Women in Antiquity (1984), The African Presence in Early Asia (1985), Great Black Leaders, Ancient and Modern (1988), and Egypt: The Child of Africa (1994). His research also discussed the early African civilizations which had disappeared from history. In 1999, Van Sertima republished, in the African Renaissance, earlier essays which discussed the scientific contributions of Africans. He also published critical essays questioning the work of previous historians and authors about the African continent.
In 1974 Van Sertima was asked to join UNESCO’s International Commission for Rewriting the Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind. Furthermore, from 1976 to 1980 he was asked by the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy to nominate candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Ivan Van Sertima passed away on May 25, 2009, in Highland Park, New Jersey. He was 74 and was survived by his wife, Jacqueline and his four children.
Historian, Scholar, Educator
Dr. John Henrik Clarke
In 1986, the Africana Library was named in honor of John Henrik Clarke, who was widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of Africana Studies. Dr. Clarke played an important role in the early history of Cornell University's Africana Studies & Research Center. He was a Distinguished Visiting Professor of African History at the Center in the 1970s. He also made an invaluable contribution to the establishment of its curricula.
Dr. Clarke is the author of numerous articles that have appeared in leading scholarly journals. He also served as the author, contributor, or editor of 24 books. In 1968 along with the Black Caucus of the African Studies Association, Dr. Clarke founded the African Heritage Studies Association. In 1969 he was appointed as the founding chairman of the Black and Puerto Rican Studies Department at Hunter College in New York City.
Dr. Clarke was most known and highly regarded for his lifelong devotion to studying and documenting the histories and contributions of African peoples in Africa and the diaspora.
Dr. Clarke is often quoted as stating that "History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are, but more importantly, what they must be."
Historian, Scholar, Educator
Dr. Khalid Muhammad
THE EARLY YEARS
Minister Khallid Abdul Muhammad, born Harold Moore, Jr. by his parents, blessed this earth on January 12th, 1948 in Houston, Texas. He was the second? of six children to the late Harold Moore, Sr. and Lottie B. Moore.
His Aunt Momma Carrie Moore Vann in Houston, Texas reared him. Minister Khallid Muhammad, affectionately known as "butch" by the family attended Bruce Elementary School, E.O.Smith Junior High School and all Black Phyllis Wheatley High School in Texas. At Phyllis Wheatley, Brother Khallid was an esteemed member of Stagecrafters, a group of exceptional students where he developed debate and drama skills under direction of Ms. Vernell Lillie.
Minister Khallid as a young man would preach to cars from his porch as they passed by on the highway and was president of Houston Methodist Youth Fellowship. Khallid was a star quarterback, team captain of his high school football team, an eagle scout, a class officer and a star debater.
Upon graduating high school, our bold and shining Black prince won a scholarship Dillard University in Louisiana to pursue his degree in theological studies. At this time he ministered at Sloan Memorial Methodist Church. While at Dillard University young Khallid first heard Minister Louis Farrahkan, the National Representative of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He had a big Afro and a huge medallion of Malcolm X around his neck. After hearing Minister Farrakhan speak Khallid Abdul Muhammad joined the Nation of Islam under the leadership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Immediately Brother Harold X, as he was known at that time became renown as a top recruiter in the south for the Black Muslims. Dr. Khallid continued his studies and graduated from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles California. He then was the recipient of an academic fellowship, and matriculated to do "Intensive Studies" at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Universities. The skills of higher education as well as his fighting spirit made Minister Khallid a valuable weapon to the Nation of Islam and the Black Nation in general.
When the Messenger of Allah, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad departed from amongst us in 1975, Minister Khallid Abdul Muhammad kept on fighting. At this time he was known as Dr. Malik Rushaddin. He traveled throughout Africa and trained in revolutionary movements with a focus on freeing apartheid ridden South Africa (Azania) from white oppression. When Minister Farrakhan decided to rebuild the Nation of Islam in 1978. Minister Khallid was right there with him when there were just a few. Minister Khallid Muhammad served as western regional minister of the Nation of Islam and leader of Mosque #27, which made lightning progress under his leadership. In 1983 Minister Louis Farrakhan named him Khallid, which has the historical interpretation of "great warrior" after the great follower of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Khallid ibn Walid. Like this great Islamic general Khallid Muhammad was called the "sword of Allah"..
Minister Khallid Abdul Muhammad was soon appointed as Supreme Captain over the military in the Nation of Islam. In 1985 Minister Khallid Abdul Muhammad was appointed National Spokesman and Representative of Minister Louis Farrakhan, following in the footsteps of Minister Farrakhan and Malcolm X. At other points he also served the posts of Southern Regional Minister, Minister of Mosque #7 in Harlem, New York City, and National Assistant.
A true Pan Afrikanist, Minister Khallid Muhammad has traveled on research and fact-finding missions to Kemet (Egypt) Jerusalem, South Afrika and throughout the African sub continent. He made his sacred pilgrimage to the Holy City, Mecca, numerous times. He has earned the title El Hajj Khallid Abdul Muhammad. Minister Khallid Abdul Muhammad was the creator and founder of The New African Cultural Holiday alternative to Thanksgiving called "GYE NYAME (G-NY-MAY). Black youth and "gang" members loved Dr. Khallid. You have heard this dynamic soldier on rap albums from Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube, Sista Souljah, X-Clan, Public Enemy, Scar-Face, Shaquille O'Neill, Erica Badu, Lauren Hill, Dead Prez, Capone N' Noriega and the Black Lyrical Terrorist. Dynamic fiery, explosive, electrifying, spellbinding! He has fired up and inspired audiences at over 100 universities in the United States, Africa, Europe and the world. He spoke at many churches and served as a minister at the 1st Afrocentric Temple in Atlanta, Georgia before his transition to the ancestors.
Historian, Scholar, Educator
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a scholar and minister who led the civil rights movement. After his assassination, he was memorialized by Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Who Was Martin Luther King Jr?
Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and civil-rights activist who had a seismic impact on race relations in the United States, beginning in the mid-1950s.
Among his many efforts, King headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Through his activism and inspirational speeches, he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the United States, as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honors. He continues to be remembered as one of the most influential and inspirational African-American leaders in history.
Born as Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. was the middle child of Michael King Sr. and Alberta Williams King.
The King and Williams families had roots in rural Georgia. Martin Jr.'s grandfather, A.D. Williams, was a rural minister for years and then moved to Atlanta in 1893.
He took over the small, struggling Ebenezer Baptist church with around 13 members and made it into a forceful congregation. He married Jennie Celeste Parks and they had one child that survived, Alberta.
Martin Sr. came from a family of sharecroppers in a poor farming community. He married Alberta in 1926 after an eight-year courtship. The newlyweds moved to A.D.'s home in Atlanta.
Martin Sr. stepped in as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church upon the death of his father-in-law in 1931. He too became a successful minister and adopted the name Martin Luther King Sr. in honor of the German Protestant religious leader Martin Luther. In due time, Michael Jr. would follow his father's lead and adopt the name himself.
King had an older sister, Willie Christine, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams King. The King children grew up in a secure and loving environment. Martin Sr. was more the disciplinarian, while his wife's gentleness easily balanced out the father's strict hand.
Though they undoubtedly tried, King’s parents couldn’t shield him completely from racism. Martin Sr. fought against racial prejudice, not just because his race suffered, but because he considered racism and segregation to be an affront to God's will. He strongly discouraged any sense of class superiority in his children which left a lasting impression on Martin Jr.
Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, King entered public school at age five. In May 1936 he was baptized, but the event made little impression on him.
In May 1941, King was 12 years old when his grandmother, Jennie, died of a heart attack. The event was traumatic for King, more so because he was out watching a parade against his parents' wishes when she died. Distraught at the news, young King jumped from a second-story window at the family home, allegedly attempting suicide.
King attended Booker T. Washington High School, where he was said to be a precocious student. He skipped both the ninth and eleventh grades, and entered Morehouse College in Atlanta at age 15, in 1944. He was a popular student, especially with his female classmates, but an unmotivated student who floated through his first two years.
Although his family was deeply involved in the church and worship, King questioned religion in general and felt uncomfortable with overly emotional displays of religious worship. This discomfort continued through much of his adolescence, initially leading him to decide against entering the ministry, much to his father's dismay.
But in his junior year, King took a Bible class, renewed his faith and began to envision a career in the ministry. In the fall of his senior year, he told his father of his decision.
Civil Rights Activist, Educator
Dr. Patricia E. Bath
Medical scientist Patricia E. Bath was born on November 4, 1942 in Harlem, New York. Bath’s father, Rupert, was a Trinidadian immigrant and the first black motorman in the New York City subway system. Her mother, Gladys, was a descendant of African slaves and Cherokee Native Americans and worked as a housewife and domestic. Bath attended Julia Ward Howe Junior High School and Charles Evans Hughes High School. In 1959, Bath received a grant from the National Science Foundation to attend the Summer Institute in Biomedical Science at Yeshiva University in New York, where she worked on a project studying the relationship between cancer, nutrition, and stress. Bath went on to graduate from Hunter College in New York City with her B.S. degree in chemistry in 1964. She then attended Howard University Medical School. Bath graduated with honors in 1968 with her M.D. degree and also won the Edwin J. Watson Prize for Outstanding Student in Ophthalmology.
From 1970 until 1973, Bath was the first African American resident in ophthalmology at New York University’s School of Medicine. During this time, she married and gave birth to a daughter, Eraka, in 1972. In 1973, Bath worked as an assistant surgeon at Sydenham Hospital, Flower and Fifth Avenue Hospital, and Metropolitan Surgical Hospital, all in New York City. In 1974, she completed a fellowship in corneal and keratoprosthesis surgery. Then, Bath moved to Los Angeles, California where she became the first African American woman surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center. She was also appointed assistant professor at the Charles R. Drew University. In 1975, Bath became the first woman faculty member of the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute.
In 1981, Bath conceived of her invention, the Laserphaco Probe. She traveled to Berlin University in Germany to learn more about laser technology, and over the course of the next five years, she developed and tested a model for a laser instrument that could be tested to remove cataracts. Bath received a patent for her invention on May 17, 1988, and became the first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical invention. She continued to work at UCLA and Drew University during the development of her laser cataract removal instrument, and, in 1983, she developed and chaired an ophthalmology residency training program. From 1983 to 1986, Bath was the first woman chair and first female program director of a postgraduate training program in the United States. In 1993, Bath retired from the UCLA Medical Center. Bath was inducted into the International Women in Medicine Hall of Fame in 2001.
Dr. Phil Valentine
Dr. Phillip Valentine, DCN; DHS; DMpS
aka: Hry Snw Djhwty Sa Khw-Ra Mhtp
Title: Hm Ntr-Nb Hr Ssht; Npw Ndjty Sbk
Doctor of Classical Naturopathy-Hygienic Science; Grand Master of the KeMetaphysical Sciences;
Minister: Ecclesiastical Jurisdictor (CN#-PT5102-864), as recognized at Public Law 94-583, 90 Statute 2892 – “Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations” (April 18.1961); A Founding Father of the “Conscious Community”; Meta-Historian; Clinical Hypnotherapist; Counselor; Secured Party Creditor; Polymath; Lecturer …
…Is the founder, director and pastor of the Temple of the Healing Spirit—Self-Healing Education Center, co-Founder of the University of Kemetian Sciences – Institute for Self-Mastery, and just recently, Whole Wellness Live. A certified member of the International Association of Counselors and Therapists (I.A.C.T.), he received his doctorate in Hygienic Health Science and Classical Naturopathy from The Life Science Institute of Texas, now merged to the Fit for Life Sciences Institute—College of Natural Health in Canada. Dr. Valentine is also recognized globally as one of the Founding Fathers of the underground Metaphysical- Grass Roots “Conscious Community.”
A former member of the American Natural Hygienic Society, Dr. Valentine is currently a Hygienic Science and Metaphysical Health Consultant to doctors and lay practitioners as far away as Azania (South Africa), Canada, Australia, Kenya, Trinidad, Jamaica, Great Britain, Ghana, Japan and the Philippines.
For five years, Dr. Valentine served as co-director of the original Heal Thyself Natural Living Education Center in Brooklyn, and helped create, format, refine and teach the 21-Day Therapeutic Fasting /Juice Feasting Program — the first of its kind to become widely popular with New York’s African American community. He also inspired, co-created and helped develop the now popular “Sacred Woman” philosophy—protocols of life, health and metaphysical well-being for women, which led to the publishing of a wonderful book by the same name by Queen Afua.
Dr. Valentine established the former School of Arcane Sciences for advanced studies in metaphysics and the occult, and is best known for his ability to decipher and teach the subtlest principles of metaphysics and its application to health, healing, and everyday life, in ways that may be understood by both the advanced student and the beginner-apprentice.
Reverend Doctor Phillip Valentine has been an honorary guest speaker to the United Nations by invitation of the then Pan-African Congress of Azania (South Africa), where he spoke briefly on the future of health for Autochthones Americans and Africans at home and in the Diaspora. He was a committee member and advisor to the Pan-African Review for Scientific Research and Political Studies where he served as an honorary health consultant to its membership.
Dr. Runoko Rashidi
Runoko Rashidi is an anthropologist and historian with a major focus on what he calls the Global African Presence–that is, Africans outside of Africa before and after enslavement. He is the author or editor of eighteen books, the most recent of which are My Global Journeys in Search of the African Presence and Assata-Garvey and Me: A Global African Journey for Children in 2017. His other works include Black Star: The African Presence in Early Europe, published by Books of Africa in London in November 2011 and African Star over Asia: The Black Presence in the East, published by Books of Africa in London in November 2012 and revised and reprinted in April 2013 and Uncovering the African Past: The Ivan Van Sertima Papers, published by Books of Africa in 2015. His other works include the African Presence in Early Asia, co-edited by Dr. Ivan Van Sertima. Four of Runoko’s works have been published in French.
As a traveler and researcher Dr. Rashidi has visited 120 countries. As a lecturer and presenter, he has spoken in sixty-five countries.
Runoko has worked with and under some of the most distinguished scholars of our generation, including Ivan Van Sertima, John Henrik Clarke, Asa G. Hilliard, Edward Scobie, John G. Jackson, Jan Carew and Yosef ben-Jochannan.
In 2005 Rashidi was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree by the Amen-Ra Theological Seminary in Los Angeles.
In October 1987 Rashidi inaugurated the First All-India Dalit Writer’s Conference in Hyderabad, India.
In 1999 he was the major keynote speaker at the International Reunion of the African Family in Latin America in Barlovento, Venezuela.
In August 2010 he was first keynote speaker at the First Global Black Nationalities Conference in Osogbo, Nigeria.
In December 2010 he was President and first speaker at the Diaspora Forum at the FESMAN Conference in Dakar, Senegal.
He is currently pursuing a major work on the African presence in the museums of the world.
As a tour leader he has taken groups to India, Australia, Fiji, Turkey, Jordan, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Togo, Benin, France, Belgium, England, Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, Ethiopia, Mexico, Luxembourg, Germany, Cameroon, the Netherlands, Spain, Morocco, Senegal, the Gambia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.
Runoko Rashidi’s major mission in life is the uplift of African people, those at home and those abroad. He is the official Traveling Ambassador for Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League.
Historian, Archiver, Educator
Dr. Sebi is a pathologist, herbalist, biochemist, and naturalist. He has studied and personally observed herbs in North America, Central and South America, Africa, and the Caribbean, and has developed a unique approach and methodology to healing the human body with herbs that is firmly rooted in over 30 years of experience.
Dr. Sebi was born Alfredo Bowman on November 26, 1933, in the village of Ilanga in Spanish Honduras. Dr. Sebi is a self-educated man. He took cues on being obedient to the procession of life from his beloved grandmother, “Mama Hay.” His early days of play and observation by the river and in the forest, coupled with guidance from his grandmother, afforded Sebi the foundation to be obedient to the Truth in his later life.
Sebi came to the United States as a self-educated man who was diagnosed with asthma, diabetes, impotency, and obesity. After unsuccessful treatments with conventional doctors and traditional western medicine, Sebi was lead to an herbalist in Mexico. Finding great healing success from all his ailments, he began creating natural vegetation cell food compounds geared for inter-cellular cleansing and the revitalization of all the cells that make up the human body. Dr. Sebi has dedicated over 30 years of his life to develop a unique methodology that he could only obtain through years of empirical knowledge.
Inspired by the personal healing experience and knowledge he gained, he began sharing the compounds with others, which gave birth to Dr. Sebi’s Cell Food.
Pathologist, Educator, Healer
Fred Hampton, deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, was born on August 30, 1948 and raised in the Chicago suburb of Maywood, Illinois. In high school he excelled in academics and athletics. After Hampton graduated from high school, he enrolled in a pre-law program at Triton Junior College in River Grove, Illinois. Hampton also became involved in the civil rights movement, joining his local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). His dynamic leadership and organizational skills in the branch enabled him to rise to the position of Youth Council President. Hampton mobilized a racially integrated group of five hundred young people who successfully lobbied city officials to create better academic services and recreational facilities for African American children.
In 1968, Hampton joined the Black Panther Party (BPP), headquartered in Oakland, California. Using his NAACP experience, he soon headed the Chicago chapter. During his brief BPP tenure, Hampton formed a “Rainbow Coalition” which included Students for a Democratic Society, the Blackstone Rangers, a street gang and the National Young Lords, a Puerto Rican organization. Hampton was also successful in negotiating a gang truce on local television.
In an effort to neutralize the Chicago BPP, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Chicago Police Department placed the chapter under heavy surveillance and conducted several harassment campaigns. In 1969, several BPP members and police officers were either injured or killed in shootouts, and over one hundred local members of the BPP were arrested.
During an early morning police raid of the BPP headquarters at 2337 W. Monroe Street on December 4, 1969, twelve officers opened fire, killing the 21-year-old Hampton and Peoria, Illinois Panther leader Mark Clark. Police also seriously wounded four other Panther members. Many in the Chicago African American community were outraged over the raid and what they saw as the unnecessary deaths of Hampton and Clark. Over 5,000 people attended Hampton’s funeral where Reverends Ralph Abernathy and Jesse Jackson of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference eulogized the slain activist. Years later, law enforcement officials admitted wrongdoing in the killing of Hampton and Clark. In 1990, and later in 2004, the Chicago City Council passed resolutions commemorating December 4 as Fred Hampton Day.
Political Figure, Educator, Party Leader
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900–1978) was born in Abeokuta, in present-day Ogun State, Nigeria. She was one of the first women to attend Abeokuta Grammar School in 1914, where she would go on to teach.
In 1919 she left for Wincham Hall School for Girls, Cheshire, England, to pursue her studies. By the time of her return to Nigeria in 1922, no doubt in reaction to the racism she had encountered in Britain, she had dropped her Christian name, Frances Abigail.
She soon became associated with some of the most important anti-colonial educational movements in Nigeria and West Africa*, and fought tirelessly to further women’s access to education and political representation
Educator, Suffragist, Women's Rights Activist
George Robert Carruthers
Scientist George Carruthers created inventions, such as the ultraviolet camera, or spectograph, which was used by NASA in the 1972 Apollo 16 flight, revealing the mysteries of space and the Earth's atmosphere.
Born on October 1, 1939, in Cincinnati, Ohio, scientist George Carruthers built his first telescope at the age of 10. He earned his Ph.D. in aeronautical and astronautical engineering at the University of Illinois in 1964 and began working at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. His telescope and image converter was used to identify molecular hydrogen in space and his ultraviolet camera/spectograph was used by Apollo 16 during the flight to the moon. Today, Carruthers teaches at Howard University.
Scientist George Carruthers was born on October 1, 1939, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the eldest of George and Sophia Carruthers' four children. George Carruthers, Sr. was a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Air Corps, and encouraged his son's early interests in science. By the age of 10, the young Carruthers had constructed his own telescope with cardboard tubing and mail-order lenses he bought with money he earned as a delivery boy.
Carruthers' father died when the boy was only 12. After his death, the family moved to Chicago, where Sophia went to work for the U.S. Postal Service. Despite the emotional setback, Carruthers continued pursuing science. As one of only a handful of African-Americans competing in Chicago's high school science fairs, he won three awards, including first prize for a telescope that he designed and built.
In 1957, Carruthers graduated from Chicago's Englewood High School and entered the engineering program at the University of Illinois' Champaign-Urbana campus. While an undergraduate, Carruthers focused on aerospace engineering and astronomy. After earning his bachelor's degree in physics in 1961, Carruthers stayed on at the University of Illinois, earning his master's in nuclear engineering in 1962, and his Ph.D. in aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 1964.
In 1964, he went to work for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow. Two years later he became a full-time research physicist at the NRL's E. O. Hurlburt Center for Space Research.
On November 11, 1969, Carruthers was awarded a patent for his "Image Converter for Detecting Electromagnetic Radiation Especially in Short Wave Lengths." During a 1970 rocket flight, Carruthers's UV telescope, or spectograph, and image converter provided the first proof of the existence of molecular hydrogen in interstellar space. Carruther's invention was used on April 21, 1972, during the first lunar walk of the Apollo 16 mission. For the first time, scientists were able to examine the Earth's atmosphere for concentrations of pollutants, and see UV images of more than 550 stars, nebulae and galaxies. Carruthers was awarded NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his work on the project.
In the 1980s, one of Carruthers' inventions captured an ultraviolet image of Halley's Comet. In 1991, he invented a camera that was used in the Space Shuttle Mission.
Carruthers also extends his efforts to education. He helped create a program called the Science & Engineers Apprentice Program, which gave high school students the opportunity to work at the Naval Research Laboratory. In 1996 and 1997, he taught a course in Earth and Space Science for D.C. Public Schools Science teachers. Then, in 2002, Carruthers began teaching a course on Earth and Space Science at Howard University.
In 2003, Carruthers was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame for his work in science and engineering.
Harriet Tubman (Free name)
Harriet Tubman escaped slavery to become a leading abolitionist. She led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom along the route of the Underground Railroad.
Who Was Harriet Tubman?
Born into slavery in Maryland, Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom in the North in 1849 to become the most famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. Tubman risked her life to lead hundreds of family members and other slaves from the plantation system to freedom on this elaborate secret network of safe houses. A leading abolitionist before the American Civil War, Tubman also helped the Union Army during the war, working as a spy among other roles.
After the Civil War ended, Tubman dedicated her life to helping impoverished former slaves and the elderly.
Between 1850 and 1860, Tubman made 19 trips from the South to the North following the network known as the Underground Railroad. She guided more than 300 people, including her parents and several siblings, from slavery to freedom, earning the nickname “Moses” for her leadership.
Tubman first encountered the Underground Railroad when she used it to escape slavery herself in 1849. Following a bout of illness and the death of her owner, Tubman decided to escape slavery in Maryland for Philadelphia. She feared that her family would be further severed and was concerned for her own fate as a sickly slave of low economic value.
Imhotep, the African
Architect, priest, and physician, Imhotep (27th century BCE) was a real man, who is credited with designing and building one of the oldest pyramids in Egypt, the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. For nearly 3,000 years he was venerated in Egypt as a semi-divine philosopher, and during the Ptolemaic period, as the god of medicine and healing.
Despite his close connections to deities, Imhotep was a real person, in fact, a high official in the court of the 3rd dynasty pharaoh Djoser (also spelled Zoser, c. 2650–2575 BCE). Imhotep's name and titles are inscribed on the base of Djoser's statue at Saqqara—a very rare honor indeed. That led scholars to conclude that Imhotep was in charge of building the funerary complex at Saqqara, including the Step Pyramid, where Djoser would be buried.
Much later, the 3rd century BCE historian Manetho credited Imhotep with the invention of building with cut stone. The Step Pyramid at Saqqara is certainly the first large-scale monument made from cut stone in Egypt.
During his lifetime, which intersected Djoser's (3rd dynasty, 2667–2648 BCE), Imhotep was an administrator at the Old Kingdom capital of Memphis. Djoser's monumental burial complex called "The Refreshment of the Gods" included Saqqara's step pyramid, as well as stone temples surrounded by protective walls. Inside the main temple are large columns, another innovation by the man described as "prince, royal seal-bearer of the king of Lower Egypt, the high priest of Heliopolis, director of sculptors."
Although there is no surviving text convincingly authored by Imhotep, by the Middle Kingdom, Imhotep was remembered as an honored philosopher, and as the author of a book of instruction. By the late New Kingdom (ca 1550–1069 BCE), Imhotep was included among the seven great ancient sages of the Egyptian world associated with literature: Hardjedef, Imhotep, Neferty, Khety, Ptahem djehuty, Khakheperresonbe, Ptahhotpe, and Kaires. Some of the documents attributed to these worthy ancients were written by New Kingdom scholars under these pseudonyms.
The classical Greeks considered Imhotep a priest and a healer, identifying him with Asclepius, their own god of medicine. A temple dedicated to Imhotep was built at Memphis, known to the Greeks as the Asklepion, between 664–525 BCE, and near it was a famous hospital and school of magic and medicine. This temple and the one at Philae were both places of pilgrimage for sick people and childless couples. The Greek physician Hippocrates (c. 460–377 BCE) is said to have been inspired by the books kept at the Asklepion temple. By the Ptolemaic period (332–30 BCE), Imhotep had become the focus of a growing cult. Objects dedicated to his name are found in several locations in north Saqqara.
Architect, Physician, Priest, Multi-Genius
Maggie Lena Walker
At the turn of the century, Maggie Lena Walker was one of the foremost female business leaders in the United States. She gained national prominence when she became the first woman to own a bank in the United States. Walker’s entrepreneurial skills transformed black business practices while also inspiring other women to enter the field.
Walker was born to enslaved parents on July 15, 1864 in Richmond, Virginia. After the Civil War, her mother worked as a laundress and her father as a butler in a popular Richmond hotel. Walker’s father was killed and she had to help her mother financially by working. Although his death was ruled a suicide, Walker later revealed that she believed he had been murdered. She attended a local school in Richmond and upon graduation, began teaching. She stepped down from teaching after she married a successful brick maker.
When Walker was 14, she joined the Independent Order of St. Luke’s, an African American benevolent organization that helped the sick and elderly in Richmond. Within the organization, Walker held many high-ranking positions. In 1902, she began publishing the organization’s newspaper, The St. Luke Herald. She encouraged African Americans in Richmond to harness their economic power by establishing their own institutions through the newspaper.
Walker had always focused her efforts on accounting and math. Her first business endeavor was a community insurance company for women. From there she continued her entrepreneurial pursuits. In 1903, she founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. Walker was the first woman of any race to charter a bank in the United States. The bank was a powerful representation of black self-help in the segregated South. The Penny Savings Bank not only attracted adults but Walker worked to appeal to children by passing out banks which encouraged them to save their money.
In 1915, Walker’s husband was killed by her son, after he mistook him for a burglar. Her husband’s passing left her in charge of a large estate. She continued working for the Order of St. Luke's but also held leadership positions in other civic organizations, including National Association of Colored Women (NACW). She also served as the Vice President of the Richmond chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
By 1924, the Penny Savings Bank had spread to other parts of Virginia and included more than 50,000 members. While other banks collapsed during the Great Depression St. Luke’s Penny Saving survived. The bank eventually consolidated with two other large bank and moved to downtown Richmond. It is still in operation today.
After an illness in 1928, Walker was forced to use a wheelchair. Although limited in movement, Walker remained a leader in the Richmond African American community. She fought arduously for women’s rights as well. For much of her life Walker served as board member of the Virginia Industrial School for Girls.
On December 15, 1934, Walker died from complications due to diabetes. Walker’s house in Richmond has since been designated a National Historic Site by the National Park Service.
Maria Firmina Dos Reis
Maria Firmina dos Reis (October 11, 1825 – November 11, 1917) was a Brazilian abolitionist and author. Her novel Úrsula (1859) was a depiction of life for Afro-Brazilians under slavery.
LIFE AND WORK
Maria Firmina dos Reis was born in São Luís, Maranhão, Brazil. "At age five, her mother and relatives moved to Viamão where she attended school. In 1847, due to outstanding performance, she won a scholarship for further studies at the level of 'cadeira de primeiras letras' that prepared her to be a teacher." She maintained the profession ″until her retirement in 1881″. "At the age of fifty-five, she founded a school for poor children."
In 1859, Firmina dos Reis published her single major novel Úrsula (the same year, Harriet Wilson published her Our Nig).
″Úrsula, the main character, is a weak and sweet girl with whom two men are in love: one is a good person, the other a villain. Úrsula is expected to fall in love with the good man. However, she falls for the villain and becomes a victim of his cruelty. She is condemned and mistreated for having made the wrong choice. Reis shows through her characters that whenever women and slaves deviate from the established rules of the patriarchal system or refuse to accept the rules of society, they are punished. Furthermore, Úrsula, her mother, and some female slaves are portrayed from an inside perspective, showing a truthful historical point of view from Colonial Brazil.″
Besides Úrsula, "Firmina dos Reis wrote poetry and short stories. While still in her twenties she began to collaborate with several local newspapers in her hometown of São Luis, an activity she sustained for many years. It was the only opening available for getting her works published.″ She also "wrote an intimate, melancholic diary written dating from 1853 to 1903 in which the themes of regilious self-denial, death, and suicide recur". In 1975 by the Brazilian scholars Antônio de Oliveira and Nascimento Morais Filho recovered the long forgotten Úrsula 1975 in a facsimile edition.
As a "privileged free black woman within nineteenth-century colonial slave society″, Maria Firmina dos Reis ″stands out because she was very well-educated and a vigorous opponent of slavery". Dawn Duke considers Maria Firmina dos Reis, together with Cuban writer María Dámasa Jova Baró, "as eminent precursors to a distinguished line of subsequent women writers" in the Afro-Latin American context. "Horácio de Almeida believed Maria Firmina dos Reis to be the first Brazilian woman writer. [...] Luiza Lobo has since opposed the allegation by presenting Ana Eurídice Eufrosina de Barandas of Porto Alegre as the first female Brazilian novelist." But the "long-term symbolic value of Maria Firmina dos Reis's only novel Úrsula (1859) rests in its distinction as a work that lays the foundations for an Afro-Brazilian female literary consciousness." For Rita Terezinha Schmidt, "Maria Firmina dos Reis inscribes a black voice in the construction of national subjectivities engendering what Homi Bhabha defines as a counter narrative of the nation that 'continually evoke and erase its totalizing boundaries – both actual and conceptual – disturb those ideological maneuvers through which "imagined communities" are given essentialist identities'".
In her Ph.D thesis Life Among the Living Dead, Carolyn Kendrick-Alcantara (2007) analyzes "the Gothic as a powerful abolitionist discourse in Brazil and Cuba through [her] readings of Maria Firmina dos Reis′ Ursula and Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda y Arteaga′s Sab".
Mary McLeod Bethune
The daughter of former slaves, Mary Jane McLeod Bethune became one of the most important black educators, civil and women’s rights leaders and government officials of the twentieth century. The college she founded set educational standards for today’s black colleges, and her role as an advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave African Americans an advocate in government.
Born on July 10, 1875 near Maysville, South Carolina, Bethune was one of the last of Samuel and Patsy McLeod’s seventeen children. After the Civil War, her mother worked for her former owner until she could buy the land on which the family grew cotton. By age nine, Bethune could pick 250 pounds of cotton a day.
Bethune benefited from efforts to educate African Americans after the war, graduating in 1894 from the Scotia Seminary, a boarding school in North Carolina. Bethune next attended Dwight Moody’s Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Chicago, Illinois. But with no church willing to sponsor her as a missionary, Bethune became an educator. While teaching in South Carolina, she married fellow teacher Albertus Bethune, with whom she had a son in 1899.
The Bethunes moved to Palatka, Florida, where Mary worked at the Presbyterian Church and also sold insurance. In 1904, her marriage ended, and determined to support her son, Bethune opened a boarding school, the Daytona Beach Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. Eventually, Bethune’s school became a college, merging with the all-male Cookman Institute to form Bethune-Cookman College in 1929. It issued its first degrees in 1943.
A champion of racial and gender equality, Bethune founded many organizations and led voter registration drives after women gained the vote in 1920, risking racist attacks. In 1924, she was elected president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, and in 1935, she became the founding president of the National Council of Negro Women. Bethune also played a role in the transition of black voters from the Republican Party—“the party of Lincoln”—to the Democratic Party during the Great Depression. A friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1936, Bethune became the highest ranking African American woman in government when President Franklin Roosevelt named her director of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration, where she remained until 1944. She was also a leader of FDR’s unofficial “black cabinet.” In 1937 Bethune organized a conference on the Problems of the Negro and Negro Youth, and fought to end discrimination and lynching. In 1940, she became vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons (NAACP), a position she held for the rest of her life. As a member of the advisory board that in 1942 created the Women’s Army Corps, Bethune ensured it was racially integrated. Appointed by President Harry S. Truman, Bethune was the only woman of color at the founding conference of the United Nations in 1945. She regularly wrote for the leading African American newspapers, the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago Defender.
Additionally, Bethune was a businesswoman who co-owned a Daytona, Florida resort and co-founded the Central Life Insurance Company of Tampa. Honored with many awards, Bethune’s life was celebrated with a memorial statue in Washington DC in 1974, and a postage stamp in 1985. Her final residence is a National Historic Site.
Politician, Educator, Civil Rights Activist
Maya Angelou was a civil rights activist, poet and award-winning author known for her acclaimed 1969 memoir, 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings', and her numerous poetry and essay collections.
Who Was Maya Angelou?
Maya Angelou was an American author, actress, screenwriter, dancer, poet and civil rights activist best known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction bestseller by an African American woman. Angelou received several honors throughout her career, including two NAACP Image Awards in the outstanding literary work (nonfiction) category, in 2005 and 2009.
Angelou was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou had a difficult childhood. Her parents split up when she was very young, and she and her older brother, Bailey, were sent to live with their father's mother, Anne Henderson, in Stamps, Arkansas.
As an African American, Angelou experienced firsthand racial prejudices and discrimination in Arkansas. She also suffered at the hands of a family associate around the age of 7: During a visit with her mother, Angelou was raped by her mother's boyfriend. As vengeance for the sexual assault, Angelou's uncles killed the boyfriend.
So traumatized by the experience, Angelou stopped talking. She returned to Arkansas and spent years as a virtual mute.
During World War II, Angelou moved to San Francisco, California. There she won a scholarship to study dance and acting at the California Labor School.
Also during this time, Angelou became the first Black female cable car conductor — a job she held only briefly — in San Francisco.
Acting and Singing Career
In the mid-1950s, Angelou's career as a performer began to take off. She landed a role in a touring production of Porgy and Bess, later appearing in the off-Broadway production Calypso Heat Wave (1957) and releasing her first album, Miss Calypso (1957).
A member of the Harlem Writers Guild and a civil rights activist, Angelou organized and starred in the musical revue Cabaret for Freedom as a benefit for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, also serving as the SCLC's northern coordinator.
In 1961, Angelou appeared in an off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Blacks with James Earl Jones, Lou Gossett Jr. and Cicely Tyson.
Angelou went on to earn a Tony Award nomination for her role in the play Look Away (1973) and an Emmy Award nomination for her work on the television miniseries Roots (1977), among other honors.
Time in Africa
Angelou spent much of the 1960s abroad, living first in Egypt and then in Ghana, working as an editor and a freelance writer. Angelou also held a position at the University of Ghana for a time.
In Ghana, she also joined a community of "Revolutionist Returnees” exploring pan-Africanism and became close with human rights activist and Black nationalist leader Malcolm X. In 1964, upon returning to the United States, Angelou helped Malcolm X set up the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which disbanded after his assassination the following year.
Maya Angelou Poems
'Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie' (1971)
Angelou published several collections of poetry, but her most famous was 1971’s collection Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Die, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
Other famous collections of Angelou’s poetry include:
Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975), which includes Angelou’s poem “Alone”
And Still I Rise (1978), which features the beloved poem “Phenomenal Woman”
Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? (1983)
I Shall Not Be Moved (1990), featuring the poem “Human Family”; Apple famously used a video of Angelou reading this poem in an advertisement at the 2016 Olympics
Even the Stars Look Lonesome (1997)
'On the Pulse of Morning' (1993)
One of her most famous works, Angelou wrote this poem especially for and recited at President Bill Clinton's inaugural ceremony in January 1993. The occasion marked the first inaugural recitation since 1961, when Robert Frost delivered his poem "The Gift Outright" at John F. Kennedy's inauguration.
Angelou went on to win a Grammy Award (best spoken word album) for the audio version of the poem.
Other well-known poems by Angelou include:
“His Day Is Done” (1962), a tribute poem Angelou wrote for Nelson Mandela as he made his secret journey from Africa to London
“Amazing Peace” (2005), written by Angelou for the White House tree-lighting ceremony
'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' (1969)
Friend and fellow writer James Baldwin urged Angelou to write about her life experiences. The resulting work was the enormously successful 1969 memoir about her childhood and young adult years, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
The poignant story made literary history as the first nonfiction bestseller by an African American woman. The book, which made Angelou an international star, continues to be regarded as her most popular autobiographical work.
In 1995, Angelou was lauded for remaining on The New York Times' paperback nonfiction bestseller list for two years—the longest-running record in the chart's history.
‘Gather Together in My Name’ (1974)
Angelou’s follow-up to A Caged Bird, this memoir covers her life as an unemployed teenage mother in California, when she turned to narcotics and prostitution.
'Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas' (1976)
Angelou wrote this autobiography about her early career as a singer and actress.
‘The Heart of a Woman’ (1981)
Angelou crafted this memoir about leaving California with her son for New York, where she took part in the civil rights movement.
'All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes' (1986)
A lyrical exploration about what it means to be an African American in Africa, this autobiographical book covers the years Angelou spent living in Ghana.
'Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now' (1994)
This inspirational essay collection features Angelou’s insights about spirituality and living well.
'A Song Flung Up to Heaven' (2002)
Another autobiographical work, A Song Flung Up to Heaven explores Angelou’s return from Africa to the U.S. and her ensuing struggle to cope with the devastating assassinations of two human rights leaders with whom she worked, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. The book ends when, at the encouragement of her friend Baldwin, Angelou began work on I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
'Letter to My Daughter' (2008)
Dedicated to the daughter Angelou never had, this book of essays features Angelou’s advice for young women about living a life of meaning.
'Mom & Me & Mom' (2013)
In this memoir, Angelou discusses her complicated relationship with a mother who abandoned her during childhood.
Interested in health, Angelou’s published cookbooks include Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories With Recipes (2005) and Great Food, All Day Long (2010).
Screenplay Author and Director
After publishing Caged Bird, Angelou broke new ground artistically, educationally and socially with her drama Georgia, Georgia in 1972, which made her the first African American woman to have her screenplay produced.
In 1998, seeking new creative challenges, Angelou made her directorial debut with Down in the Delta, starring Alfre Woodard.
Accomplishments and Awards
Angelou's career has seen numerous accolades, including the Chicago International Film Festival's 1998 Audience Choice Award and a nod from the Acapulco Black Film Festival in 1999 for Down in the Delta.
She also won two NAACP Image Awards in the outstanding literary work (nonfiction) category, for her 2005 cookbook and 2008's Letter to My Daughter.
Martin Luther King Jr., a close friend of Angelou's, was assassinated on her birthday (April 4) in 1968. Angelou stopped celebrating her birthday for years afterward, and sent flowers to King's widow, Coretta Scott King, for more than 30 years, until Coretta's death in 2006.
Angelou was also good friends with TV personality Oprah Winfrey, who organized several birthday celebrations for the award-winning author, including a week-long cruise for her 70th birthday in 1998.
Maya Angelou’s Son and Husbands
In 1944, a 16-year-old Angelou gave birth to a son, Guy (a short-lived high school relationship led to the pregnancy). After giving birth, she worked a number of jobs to support herself and her child. A poet himself, Angelou’s son now goes by the name Guy Johnson.
In 1952, Angelou wed Anastasios Angelopulos, a Greek sailor from whom she took her professional name — a blend of her childhood nickname, "Maya," and a shortened version of his surname. The couple later divorced.
Notoriously secretive about her marriages, Angelou was likely married at least three times, including in 1973 to a carpenter, Paul du Feu.
Maya Angelou Death
After experiencing health issues for a number of years, Angelou died on May 28, 2014, at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The news of her passing spread quickly with many people taking to social media to mourn and remember Angelou. Singer Mary J. Blige and politician Cory Booker were among those who tweeted their favorite quotes by her in tribute.
President Barack Obama also issued a statement about Angelou, calling her "a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman." Angelou "had the ability to remind us that we are all God's children; that we all have something to offer," he wrote.
Poet, Author, Educator
Muhammad Ali was a heavyweight boxing champion with an impressive 56-win record. He was also known for his brave public stance against the Vietnam War.
Who Was Muhammad Ali?
Muhammad Ali was a boxer, philanthropist and social activist who is universally regarded as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. Ali became an Olympic gold medalist in 1960 and the world heavyweight boxing champion in 1964.
Following his suspension for refusing military service, Ali reclaimed the heavyweight title two more times during the 1970s, winning famed bouts against Joe Frazier and George Foreman along the way. Diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1984, Ali devoted much of his time to philanthropy, earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
Ali was born on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. His birth name was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.
At an early age, young Clay showed that he wasn't afraid of any bout — inside or outside of the ring. Growing up in the segregated South, he experienced racial prejudice and discrimination firsthand.
At the age of 12, Clay discovered his talent for boxing through an odd twist of fate. After his bike was stolen, Clay told a police officer, Joe Martin, that he wanted to beat up the thief.
"Well, you better learn how to fight before you start challenging people," Martin reportedly told him at the time. In addition to being a police officer, Martin also trained young boxers at a local gym.
Clay started working with Martin to learn how to spar and soon began his boxing career. In his first amateur bout in 1954, he won the fight by split decision.
Clay went on to win the 1956 Golden Gloves tournament for novices in the light heavyweight class. Three years later, he won the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions, as well as the Amateur Athletic Union's national title for the light heavyweight division.
In 1960, Clay won a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team, and traveled to Rome, Italy, to compete. At six feet, three inches tall, Clay was an imposing figure in the ring, but he also became known for his lightning speed and fancy footwork. After winning his first three bouts, Clay defeated Zbigniew Pietrzkowski of Poland to win the light heavyweight Olympic gold medal.
After his Olympic victory, Clay was heralded as an American hero. He soon turned professional with the backing of the Louisville Sponsoring Group and continued overwhelming all opponents in the ring.
Conversion to Islam
Clay joined the Black Muslim group Nation of Islam in 1964. At first, he called himself Cassius X before settling on the name Muhammad Ali. The boxer eventually converted to orthodox Islam during the 1970s.
Vietnam and Supreme Court Case
Ali started a different kind of fight with his outspoken views against the Vietnam War.
Drafted into the military in April 1967, he refused to serve on the grounds that he was a practicing Muslim minister with religious beliefs that prevented him from fighting. He was arrested for committing a felony and almost immediately stripped of his world title and boxing license.
The U.S. Department of Justice pursued a legal case against Ali, denying his claim for conscientious objector status. He was found guilty of violating Selective Service laws and sentenced to five years in prison in June 1967 but remained free while appealing his conviction.
Unable to compete professionally in the meantime, Ali missed more than three prime years of his athletic career. Ali returned to the ring in 1970 with a win over Jerry Quarry, and the U.S. Supreme Court eventually overturned the conviction in June 1971.
Ali had a career record of 56 wins, five losses and 37 knockouts before his retirement from boxing in 1981 at the age of 39.
Often referring to himself as "The Greatest," Ali was not afraid to sing his own praises. He was known for boasting about his skills before a fight and for his colorful descriptions and phrases.
In one of his more famously quoted descriptions, Ali told reporters that he could "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" in the boxing ring. A few of his more well-known matches include the following:
After winning gold at the 1960 Olympics, Ali took out British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper in 1963. He then knocked out Sonny Liston in 1964 to become the heavyweight champion of the world.
In 1971, Ali took on Joe Frazier in what has been called the "Fight of the Century." Frazier and Ali went toe-to-toe for 14 rounds before Frazier dropped Ali with a vicious left hook in the 15th. Ali recovered quickly, but the judges awarded the decision to Frazier, handing Ali his first professional loss after 31 wins.
After suffering a loss to Ken Norton, Ali beat Frazier in a 1974 rematch.
In 1975, Ali and Frazier locked horns again for their grudge match in Quezon City, Philippines. Dubbed the "Thrilla in Manila," the bout nearly went the distance, with both men delivering and absorbing tremendous punishment. However, Frazier's trainer threw in the towel after the 14th round, giving the hard-fought victory to Ali.
Another legendary Ali fight took place in 1974 against undefeated heavyweight champion George Foreman. Billed as the "Rumble in the Jungle," the bout was organized by promoter Don King and held in Kinshasa, Zaire.
For once, Ali was seen as the underdog to the younger, massive Foreman, but he silenced his critics with a masterful performance. He baited Foreman into throwing wild punches with his "rope-a-dope" technique, before stunning his opponent with an eighth-round knockout to reclaim the heavyweight title.
After losing his title to Leon Spinks in February 1978, Ali defeated him in a September 1978 rematch, becoming the first boxer to win the heavyweight championship three times.
Following a brief retirement, Ali returned to the ring to face Larry Holmes in 1980 but was overmatched against the younger champion.
Following one final loss in 1981, to Trevor Berbick, the boxing great retired from the sport at age 39.
Activist, Boxer, Educator
Nat Turner was the leader of a violent slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831.
Who Was Nat Turner?
Nat Turner was a slave who became a preacher and made history as the leader of one of the bloodiest slave revolts in America on August 21, 1831. Following the insurrection, Turner hid for six weeks, but he was eventually caught and later hanged. The incident ended the emancipation movement in that region and led to even harsher laws against slaves. While Turner became an icon of the 1960s black power movement, others have criticized him for using violence as a means of demanding change.
Family and Early Life
Turner was born on October 2, 1800, in Southampton County, Virginia, on the plantation of Benjamin Turner. His mother was named Nancy, but nothing is known about his father. Turner’s slave owner, Benjamin, allowed him to be instructed in reading, writing and religion.
As a small child, Turner was thought to have some special talent because he could describe things that happened before he was even born. Some even remarked that he "surely would be a prophet," according to his later confession. His mother and grandmother told Turner that he "was intended for some great purpose." Turner was deeply religious and spent much of his time reading the Bible, praying and fasting.
Over the years, Turner worked on a number of different plantations. He ran away from Samuel Turner, his former owner's brother, in 1821. After 30 days of hiding in the woods, Turner came back to Samuel's plantation after he received what he believed to be a sign from God. After Samuel's death, Turner became the slave of Thomas Moore and then the property of his widow. When she married John Travis, Turner went to work on Travis' lands.
Nat Turner’s Rebellion
On August 21, 1831, Turner and his supporters began a revolt against white slave owners with the killing of his owners, the Travis family.
Turner believed in signs and heard divine voices, and he had a vision in 1825 of a bloody conflict between black and white spirits. Three years later, he had what he believed to be another message from God. In his later confession, Turner explained: "the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent." Turner would receive another sign to tell him when to fight, but this latest message meant "I should arise and prepare myself and slay my enemies with their own weapons."
Turner took a solar eclipse that occurred in February 1831 as a signal that the time to rise up had come. He recruited several other slaves to join him in his cause. Turner gathered more supporters—growing to a group of up to 40 or 50 slaves—as he and his men continued their violent spree through the county. They were able to secure arms and horses from those they killed. Most sources say that about 55 white men, women and children died during Turner's rebellion.
Initially, Turner had planned to reach the county seat of Jerusalem and take over the armory there, but he and his men were foiled in this plan. They faced off against a group of armed white men at a plantation near Jerusalem, and the conflict soon dissolved into chaos. Turner himself fled into the woods.
While Turner hid, white mobs took their revenge on the blacks of Southampton County. Estimates range from approximately 100 to 200 African Americans who were slaughtered after the rebellion.
Turner was eventually captured on October 30, 1831. He was represented by lawyer Thomas R. Gray, who wrote down Turner's confession. Turner pled not guilty during his trial, believing that his rebellion was the work of God. He was sentenced to death by hanging, and this sentence was carried out on November 11, 1831. Many of his co-conspirators met the same fate.
The incident put fear in the heart of Southerners, ending the organized emancipation movement in that region. Southern states enacted even harsher laws against slaves instead. Turner's actions also added fuel to the abolitionist movement in the North. Noted abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison even published an editorial in his newspaper The Liberator in support of Turner to some degree.
Over the years, Turner has emerged as a hero, a religious fanatic and a villain. Turner became an important icon to the 1960s black power movement as an example of an African American standing up against white oppression.
Others have objected to Turner's indiscriminate slaughtering of men, women and children to try to achieve this end. As historian Scot French told The New York Times, "To accept Nat Turner and place him within the pantheon of American revolutionary heroes is to sanction violence as a means of social change. He has a kind of radical consciousness that to this day troubles advocates of a racially reconciled society. The story lives because it's relevant today to questions of how to organize for change."
Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape, on 18 July 1918. His mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. In 1930, when he was 12 years old, his father died and the young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni1.
Hearing the elders’ stories of his ancestors’ valour during the wars of resistance, he dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people.
He attended primary school in Qunu where his teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave him the name Nelson, in accordance with the custom of giving all schoolchildren “Christian” names.
He completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and went on to Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute, where he matriculated.
Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare but did not complete the degree there as he was expelled for joining in a student protest.
On his return to the Great Place at Mqhekezweni the King was furious and said if he didn’t return to Fort Hare he would arrange wives for him and his cousin Justice. They ran away to Johannesburg instead, arriving there in 1941. There he worked as a mine security officer and after meeting Walter Sisulu, an estate agent, he was introduced to Lazer Sidelsky. He then did his articles through a firm of attorneys – Witkin, Eidelman and Sidelsky.
He completed his BA through the University of South Africa and went back to Fort Hare for his graduation in 1943.
Meanwhile, he began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. By his own admission he was a poor student and left the university in 1952 without graduating. He only started studying again through the University of London after his imprisonment in 1962 but also did not complete that degree.
In 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa. He graduated in absentia at a ceremony in Cape Town.
Mandela, while increasingly politically involved from 1942, only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped to form the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).
In 1944 he married Walter Sisulu’s cousin, Evelyn Mase, a nurse. They had two sons, Madiba Thembekile "Thembi" and Makgatho, and two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy. He and his wife divorced in 1958.
Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANCYL and through its efforts, the ANC adopted a more radical mass-based policy, the Programme of Action, in 1949.
In 1952 he was chosen as the National Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign with Maulvi Cachalia as his deputy. This campaign of civil disobedience against six unjust laws was a joint programme between the ANC and the South African Indian Congress. He and 19 others were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for their part in the campaign and sentenced to nine months of hard labour, suspended for two years.
A two-year diploma in law on top of his BA allowed Mandela to practise law, and in August 1952 he and Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first black law firm, Mandela & Tambo.
At the end of 1952 he was banned for the first time. As a restricted person he was only permitted to watch in secret as the Freedom Charter was adopted in Kliptown on 26 June 1955.
The Treason Trial
Mandela was arrested in a countrywide police swoop on 5 December 1956, which led to the 1956 Treason Trial. Men and women of all races found themselves in the dock in the marathon trial that only ended when the last 28 accused, including Mandela, were acquitted on 29 March 1961.
On 21 March 1960 police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest in Sharpeville against the pass laws. This led to the country’s first state of emergency and the banning of the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) on 8 April. Mandela and his colleagues in the Treason Trial were among thousands detained during the state of emergency.
During the trial Mandela married a social worker, Winnie Madikizela, on 14 June 1958. They had two daughters, Zenani and Zindziswa. The couple divorced in 1996.
Days before the end of the Treason Trial, Mandela travelled to Pietermaritzburg to speak at the All-in Africa Conference, which resolved that he should write to Prime Minister Verwoerd requesting a national convention on a non-racial constitution, and to warn that should he not agree there would be a national strike against South Africa becoming a republic. After he and his colleagues were acquitted in the Treason Trial, Mandela went underground and began planning a national strike for 29, 30 and 31 March.
In the face of massive mobilisation of state security the strike was called off early. In June 1961 he was asked to lead the armed struggle and helped to establish Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation), which launched on 16 December 1961 with a series of explosions.
On 11 January 1962, using the adopted name David Motsamayi, Mandela secretly left South Africa. He travelled around Africa and visited England to gain support for the armed struggle. He received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962. He was arrested in a police roadblock outside Howick on 5 August while returning from KwaZulu-Natal, where he had briefed ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli about his trip.
He was charged with leaving the country without a permit and inciting workers to strike. He was convicted and sentenced to five years' imprisonment, which he began serving at the Pretoria Local Prison. On 27 May 1963 he was transferred to Robben Island and returned to Pretoria on 12 June. Within a month police raided Liliesleaf, a secret hideout in Rivonia, Johannesburg, used by ANC and Communist Party activists, and several of his comrades were arrested.
On 9 October 1963 Mandela joined 10 others on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. While facing the death penalty his words to the court at the end of his famous "Speech from the Dock" on 20 April 1964 became immortalised:
Politician, Former President of South Africa
Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba
Queen Anna Nzinga, also known as Ana de Sousa Nzinga Mbande, was a queen of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms (occupying what is today the country of Angola in the southern part of Africa) who lived during the 16th and 17th centuries AD. Queen Nzinga is best remembered for her resistance against the Portuguese, and setting her people free from slavery.
Anna’s Early Life
Queen Nzinga was born during the first half of the 1580s. Nzinga’s father, Ngola Kiluanji Kia Samba, was a ruler of the Ndongo people. In the same year that Nzinga was born, the king began to lead his people against the Portuguese colonialists .
These Europeans are said to have been raiding the territory of the Ndongo for slaves, as they tried to fill the increasing demands for slave labor in their New World colonies such as Brazil . Additionally, the Portuguese were attempting to conquer areas which they believed contained silver mines .
Nzinga Forms a Peace Treaty
In any event, 1621/2 was an important period in Nzinga’s life. It was during this year that the Portuguese invited Mbandi to a peace conference in the hopes of ending hostilities between the two peoples (the Portuguese had forced the king to flee from his court in 1617). Nzinga was sent to represent the king during the meeting with Joao Corria de Sousa, the Portuguese governor, in Luanda.
One of the best-known stories about Nzinga took place during this meeting. Prior to the meeting, the Portuguese are said to have prepared the room with only one chair. This meant that Nzinga would be obliged to stand during the negotiations, thus making her seem inferior. Instead of doing so, Nzinga had one of her male servants get down on his hands and knees to serve as her chair.
The negotiations were a success, as peace was achieved, and the Portuguese restored Mbandi to his throne, as well as agreeing to limit slave raiding activities. Nzinga also converted to Christianity and was baptized, taking the name of Dona Ana de Sousa. Her godparents were the Portuguese governor, Joao Corria de Sousa and his wife.
However, this period of peace did not last for long, and the Portuguese renewed their aggression towards the Ndongo several years later.
Queen Nzinga at War
In 1626, Nzinga became the queen of her people following her brother’s death. According to one source, the king had committed suicide in the face of the increasingly aggressive Portuguese presence in the region. Another source, however, claims that it was Nzinga who murdered her brother.
In the same year, the Portuguese renewed their attacks against the Ndongo by hiring the Imbangala to do their fighting for them. Unable to defeat the Portuguese militarily, Nzinga and her people fled westwards and founded a new state at Matamba.
From Matamba, Nzinga fought against the Portuguese in a war that lasted three decades. Among other measures, the queen offered sanctuary to runaway slaves and Portuguese-trained African soldiers who came to her kingdom. Additionally, she stirred up unrest within Ndongo as well, which was at that time controlled indirectly by the Portuguese via a puppet king.
Moreover, Nzinga exploited European rivalries to her advantage. This can be seen in the alliance that she forged with the Dutch, who were the rivals of Portugal in the region.
The Portuguese were cast out of Luanda in 1641 by the combined forces of the Dutch and the Matamba. In the following year, however, the Portuguese were back, and managed to reclaim Luanda. The Dutch were driven out of Angola, and the queen had to retreat back to Matamba.
Nzingha wasn’t ready to give up and she continued her fight against the Portuguese. But more importantly, perhaps, were the efforts she made to transform her kingdom into a commercial power, considering that it occupied a strategic position between a part of the African coast and it’s interior.
By the time of her death in 1663, Matamba is said to have had developed into a formidable commercial state that was able to deal with the Portuguese on an equal footing.
Queen, Politician, Activist
Peseshet, who lived under the Fourth Dynasty (albeit a date to the Fifth Dynasty is also possible), is often credited with being the earliest known female physician in ancient Egypt, though another, Merit-Ptah lived earlier. Her relevant title was "lady overseer of the female physicians," but whether she was a physician herself is uncertain. She also had the titles king's acquaintance, and overseer of funerary-priests of the king's mother.
She had a son Akhethetep, in whose mastaba at Giza her personal false door was found. However, the mother-son relation of Akhethetep and Peseshet is not confirmed by any inscription. On the false door is also depicted a man called Kanefer. He might be her husband.
She may have graduated midwives at an ancient Egyptian medical school in Sais; midwifery must have existed, even though no ancient Egyptian term for it is known. The Hebrew Bible – while not a proven source for historical events prior to the 7th century BCE – refers to midwives in Exodus 1,16: "And he (i.e. the king of Egypt) said: 'When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women and see them upon the stools...’"
Peseshet’s history plays a key role in the 2009 novel Storm Cycle by Roy and Iris Johansen, which tells the story of an archaeologist seeking to obtain and sell cures and treatments that the novel’s Peseshet is said to have discovered, and of a researcher whose only hope of saving her sister may lie in one of those cures.
Physician 2500 BC
Philip Emeagwali is a computer scientist who is best known for utilizing the connection machine and 65,536 microprocessors to achieve 3.1 billion calculations per second, the fastest computational record at the time.
Emeagwali was born on August 23rd, 1954 in Akure, Nigeria, to James and Agatha Emeagwali and is the oldest of their nine children. From a young age Philip Emeagwali’s father tutored him in mathematics and this cultivated his interest in the subject. In 1966, he attended a British-run Catholic elementary school in Eastern Nigeria and excelled in a number of subjects. His time there was cut short when a little over a year later the country’s civil war caused him and his family to relocate to a refugee camp. He would eventually serve as a cook in the Biafran army just prior to the war’s resolution in 1970.
Emeagwali resumed his education when he enrolled for high school at Christ the King College in Onitsha, Nigeria. He attended the school for one year before dropping out due to financial problems. Emeagwali would instead self-study and in 1973 he passed a high school equivalency test that was administered by the University of London. He then was awarded a scholarship to study at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, and he earned his bachelor of science degree in mathematics from the institution in 1977. It was here that Emeagwali’s interest in computers was sparked. He later went on to earn an M.S. in environmental engineering from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1981; an M.S. in ocean, coastal, and marine engineering from George Washington University in 1986; and an M.S. in mathematics from the University of Maryland in 1986.
In 1987 while working on his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, Emeagwali was granted use of the Connection Machine located at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Over the next couple of years he accessed the machine remotely from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and worked on a program to accurately assume the amount of oil in a simulated reservoir. In 1989 he ran his program and with the help of 65,536 microprocessors the machine was able to perform 1.3 billion calculations per second as well as correctly predict the amount of oil in the simulated reservoir. His work paved the way for other scientists to understand more complex functions of computers. In 1989, Emeagwali was awarded the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers’ Gordon Bell Prize.
On August 15th, 1981 Emeagwali married Dale Brown with whom he would have one child with named Ijeoma.
Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess
Nanny, known as Granny Nanny, Grandy Nanny, and Queen Nanny was a Maroon leader and Obeah woman in Jamaica during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Maroons were slaves in the Americas who escaped and formed independent settlements. Nanny herself was an escaped slave who had been shipped from Western Africa. It has been widely accepted that she came from the Ashanti tribe of present-day Ghana.
Nanny and her four brothers (all of whom became Maroon leaders) were sold into slavery and later escaped from their plantations into the mountains and jungles that still make up a large proportion of Jamaica. Nanny and one brother, Quao, founded a village in the Blue Mountains, on the Eastern (or Windward) side of Jamaica, which became known as Nanny Town. Nanny has been described as a practitioner of Obeah, a term used in the Caribbean to describe folk magic and religion based on West African influences.
Nanny Town, placed as it was in the mountains away from European settlements and difficult to assault, thrived. Nanny limited her attacks on plantations and European settlements and preferred instead to farm and trade peacefully with her neighbors. She did however make numerous successful raids to free slaves held on plantations and it has been widely accepted that her efforts contributed to the escape of almost 1,000 slaves over her lifetime.
While Nanny lived, Nanny Town and the Windward Maroons thrived and multiplied. The British colonial administration became embarrassed and threatened by the successes of the Maroons. Plantation owners who were losing slaves and having equipment and crops burned by Maroon raiders demanded that colonial authorities act. Hunting parties, made up of British regular army soldiers, militiamen, and mercenaries (many from the free black community), scoured the Jamaican jungles.
Captain William Cuffee, known as Captain Sambo, is credited as having killed Nanny in 1733 during one of the many and bloody engagements of the war. The war itself lasted from 1720 until a truce was declared in 1739; Cudjoe, one of Nanny’s brothers and a leader during the Maroon War, was the driving force behind the treaty. After Nanny’s death, many of the Windward Maroons moved across the island to the more sparsely inhabited Western (or Leeward) side of Jamaica. Nanny Town was eventually captured by the British and destroyed in 1734.
Nanny’s life and accomplishments have been recognized by the Government of Jamaica and she has been honored as a National Hero and awarded the title of “Right Excellent”. Currently, there are only seven such National Heroes and Nanny is conspicuous as the only woman. A modern portrait of Nanny, based on her description, appears on the Jamaican $500 note, the largest banknote in circulation in Jamaica.
Queen Quet Marquetta L. Goodwine is a published author, computer scientist, lecturer, mathematician, historian, columnist, preservationist, environmental justice advocate, environmentalist, film consultant, and “The Art-ivist.” She is the founder of the premiere advocacy organization for the continuation of Gullah/Geechee culture, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition.
Queen Quet has not only provided “histo-musical presentations” throughout the world, but was also the first Gullah/Geechee person to speak on behalf of her people before the United Nations in Genevé, Switzerland. Queen Quet was one of the first of seven inductees in the Gullah/Geechee Nation Hall of Fame. She received the “Anointed Spirit Award” for her leadership and for being a visionary.
In 2008, she was recorded at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France at a United Nations Conference in order to have the human rights story of the Gullah/Geechee people archived for the United Nations. In 2009, she was invited by the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations to come and present before the newly founded “Minority Forum” as a representative of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and the International Human Rights Association for American Minorities (IHRAAM) which is an NGO in consultative status with the United Nations. Queen Quet is a directorate member for IHRAAM and for the International Commission on Human Rights. She represented these bodies and the Gullah/ Geechee Nation at the “United Nations Forum on Minority Rights.” She also represented IHRAAM and the Gullah/Geechee Nation at the UN's Conference of Parties 22 (COP22) in Morocco. She returned to the UN for the Oceans Conference in 2017 and in 2018 she represented her people at the Global Climate Action Summit.
Due to Queen Quet advancing the idea of keeping the Gullah/Geechee culture alive, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition under the leadership of Queen Quet, worked with US Congressman James Clyburn to insure that the United States Congress would work to assist the Gullah/Geechees. Queen Quet then acted as the community leader to work with the United States National Park Service to conduct several meetings throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation for the “Special Resource Study of Lowcountry Gullah Culture.” Due to the fact that Gullah/Geechees worked to become recognized as one people, Queen Quet wanted to insure that the future congressional act would reflect this in its name and form. As a result in 2006 the “Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act” was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by the president.
Queen Quet was vetted with the US White House as an Expert Commissioner in the Department of the Interior. As an expert commissioner, she was also the Chair of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor General Management Plan. Queen Quet also served as a member of the “National Park Relevancy Committee” and proudly continues to work to protect the environment and to insure that diverse groups of people engage in the outdoors and the policies governing them. Queen Quet has engaged in several White House conferences on this issue. She has also been a part of the United Nations COP 22 Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco and COP 25 in Madrid, Spain. She also spoke at the United Nations Ocean Action Summit in Korea.
Queen Quet's global journeys are presented in a weekly broadcast on "Gullah/Geechee TV." Queen Quet has appeared in and consulted for over a dozen films that range from full length action films to historic documentaries. She was the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Consultant for the award winning WGN TV show, “Underground.” She did similar behind the scenes work for feature film, "The Patriot."
Queen Quet has appeared in numerous documentaries. She has been interviewed by national and international media for television, radio, and print. She has been seen and heard on programs in Australia, China, Germany, Mexico, the Bahamas, Canada, England, Ecuador, and different counties in Africa. She is also the hostess of “Gullah/Geechee Nayshun Nyews” and "Gullah/Geechee Riddim Radio." In September 2010, she spoke before a full house and received a 9 minute long standing ovation at the United States National Press Club in Washington, DC after she educated the crowd on the language and continuing traditions of the Gullah/Geechee Nation.
Queen Quet has won countless awards for being a woman of distinction, for her scholarship, writings, artistic presentation, activism, cultural continuation and environmental preservation. Queen Quet was chosen as a TogetherGreen Fellow. Toyota and the Audubon conducted a national search and chose Queen Quet to be a part of this network of environmental conservationists. As a result, she created an on-going program called “Gullah/ Geechee SEA & ME” in which SEA stands for “saving environmental actions” and ME stands for “marine environment.” This program focuses on intergenerational engagement in learning Gullah/Geechee traditions that are beneficial to the Sea Island environment and promotes engagement in citizens science activities.
Queen Quet’s accolades include the United States Jefferson Award for community service, the Jean Laney Folk Heritage Award for Gullah Advocacy from the state of South Carolina, the inaugural “Living Legacy Award” from the Association for the Study of African American Life & History (ASALH), the inaugural HOTEP Award, the inaugural MaVynee Betsch Conservation Award, numerous Woman of Distinction Awards, the National Black Herstory Award, being featured on the “Wall of Heroes” at the National Wilderness Society headquarters in Washington, DC and on the website of The Citadel in Charleston, SC as a woman of honor. She was also presented with the Oceans Hero Award in Washington, DC. She has received several Queen Quet Day, “Gullah/Geechee Days,” and “Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week” proclamations in various states. She received the “Preserving Our Places in History Lifetime Achievement Award” from the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission. The General Assembly of South Carolina also honored Queen Quet with Resolution 1453 for the work that she has done on behalf of her home state and Gullah/Geechee people locally, nationally, and internationally. In 2018, the South Carolina Coalition for Voter Participation honored her with the Rev. Dr. BJ Whipper Community Service Award for her tireless community service and for her spiritual, economic, and political contributions to her home state. In 2020, the Bluffton-Hilton Head MLK Observance Committee presented her with the "Black Excellence Award."
Queen Quet was selected, elected, and enstooled by her people to be the first Queen Mother, “head pun de bodee,” and official spokesperson for the Gullah/Geechee Nation. As a result, she is respectfully referred to as “Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State for the Gullah/Geechee Nation.”
Author, Computer Scientist, Lecturer, Mathematician, Historian, Preservationist, Activist, Environmentalist
Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist who refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her defiance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Its success launched nationwide efforts to end racial segregation of public facilities.
Who Was Rosa Parks?
Rosa Parks was a civil rights leader whose refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her bravery led to nationwide efforts to end racial segregation. Parks was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Award by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Early Life and Family
Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her parents, James and Leona McCauley, separated when Parks was two. Parks’ mother moved the family to Pine Level, Alabama, to live with her parents, Rose and Sylvester Edwards. Both of Parks' grandparents were formerly enslaved and strong advocates for racial equality; the family lived on the Edwards' farm, where Parks would spend her youth.
Parks' childhood brought her early experiences with racial discrimination and activism for racial equality. In one experience, Parks' grandfather stood in front of their house with a shotgun while Ku Klux Klan members marched down the street.
Throughout Parks' education, she attended segregated schools. Taught to read by her mother at a young age, Parks attended a segregated, one-room school in Pine Level, Alabama, that often lacked adequate school supplies such as desks. African American students were forced to walk to the first through sixth-grade schoolhouse, while the city of Pine Level provided bus transportation as well as a new school building for white students.
Beginning at age 11, Parks attended the city's Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery. In 1929, while in the 11th grade and attending a laboratory school for secondary education led by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes, Parks left school to attend to both her sick grandmother and mother back in Pine Level.
Parks didn't return to her studies. Instead, she got a job at a shirt factory in Montgomery. After marrying in 1932, she earned her high school degree in 1933 with her husband's support.
In 1932, at age 19, Parks met and married Raymond Parks, a barber and an active member of the NAACP.
After graduating high school with Raymond's support, Parks became actively involved in civil rights issues by joining the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943, serving as the chapter's youth leader as well as secretary to NAACP President E.D. Nixon — a post she held until 1957. The couple never had children.
Rosa Parks' Life in Photos
On December 1, 1955, Parks was arrested for refusing a bus driver's instructions to give up her seat to a white passenger. She later recalled that her refusal wasn't because she was physically tired, but that she was tired of giving in.
After a long day's work at a Montgomery department store, where she worked as a seamstress, Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus for home. She took a seat in the first of several rows designated for "colored" passengers.
The Montgomery City Code required that all public transportation be segregated and that bus drivers had the "powers of a police officer of the city while in actual charge of any bus for the purposes of carrying out the provisions" of the code. While operating a bus, drivers were required to provide separate but equal accommodations for white and Black passengers by assigning seats.
This was accomplished with a line roughly in the middle of the bus separating white passengers in the front of the bus and African American passengers in the back. When an African American passenger boarded the bus, they had to get on at the front to pay their fare and then get off and re-board the bus at the back door.
As the bus Parks was riding continued on its route, it began to fill with white passengers. Eventually, the bus was full and the driver noticed that several white passengers were standing in the aisle. The bus driver stopped the bus and moved the sign separating the two sections back one row, asking four Black passengers to give up their seats.
The city's bus ordinance didn't specifically give drivers the authority to demand a passenger to give up a seat to anyone, regardless of color. However, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the custom of moving back the sign separating Black and white passengers and, if necessary, asking Black passengers to give up their seats to white passengers. If the Black passenger protested, the bus driver had the authority to refuse service and could call the police to have them removed.
Three of the other Black passengers on the bus complied with the driver, but Parks refused and remained seated. The driver demanded, "Why don't you stand up?" to which Parks replied, "I don't think I should have to stand up." The driver called the police and had her arrested.
The police arrested Parks at the scene and charged her with violation of Chapter 6, Section 11, of the Montgomery City Code. She was taken to police headquarters, where, later that night, she was released on bail.
Montgomery Bus Boycott
Members of the African American community were asked to stay off city buses on Monday, December 5, 1955 — the day of Parks' trial — in protest of her arrest. People were encouraged to stay home from work or school, take a cab or walk to work. With most of the African American community not riding the bus, organizers believed a longer boycott might be successful. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, as it came to be known, was a huge success, lasting for 381 days and ending with a Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation on public transit systems to be unconstitutional.
Nixon began forming plans to organize a boycott of Montgomery's city buses on December 1, the evening that Parks was arrested. Ads were placed in local papers, and handbills were printed and distributed in Black neighborhoods.
On the morning of December 5, a group of leaders from the African American community gathered at the Mt. Zion Church in Montgomery to discuss strategies and determined that their boycott effort required a new organization and strong leadership. They formed the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), electing Montgomery newcomer King as minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The MIA believed that Parks' case provided an excellent opportunity to take further action to create real change.
When Parks arrived at the courthouse for trial that morning with her attorney, Fred Gray, she was greeted by a bustling crowd of around 500 local supporters, who rooted her on. Following a 30-minute hearing, Parks was found guilty of violating a local ordinance and was fined $10, as well as a $4 court fee.
Inarguably the biggest event of the day, however, was what Parks' trial had triggered. The city's buses were, by and large, empty. Some people carpooled and others rode in African American-operated cabs, but most of the estimated 40,000 African American commuters living in the city at the time had opted to walk to work that day — some as far as 20 miles.
Due to the size and scope of, and loyalty to, boycott participation, the effort continued for several months. The city of Montgomery had become a victorious eyesore, with dozens of public buses sitting idle, ultimately severely crippling finances for its transit company. With the boycott's progress, however, came strong resistance.
Some segregationists retaliated with violence. Black churches were burned, and both King and E.D. Nixon's homes were destroyed by bombings. Still, further attempts were made to end the boycott. The insurance was canceled for the city taxi system that was used by African Americans. Black citizens were arrested for violating an antiquated law prohibiting boycotts.
In response to the ensuing events, members of the African American community took legal action. Armed with the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which stated that separate but equal policies had no place in public education, a Black legal team took the issue of segregation on public transit systems to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Northern (Montgomery) Division. Parks' attorney, Fred Gray, filed the suit.
In June 1956, the district court declared racial segregation laws (also known as "Jim Crow laws") unconstitutional. The city of Montgomery appealed the court's decision shortly thereafter, but on November 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling, declaring segregation on public transport to be unconstitutional.
With the transit company and downtown businesses suffering financial loss and the legal system ruling against them, the city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift its enforcement of segregation on public buses, and the boycott officially ended on December 20, 1956. The combination of legal action, backed by the unrelenting determination of the African American community, made the Montgomery Bus Boycott one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation in history.
Civil Rights Activist
The Honorable Marcus M. Garvey
Born in Jamaica, Marcus Garvey was an orator for the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. Garvey advanced a Pan-African philosophy which inspired a global mass movement, known as Garveyism. Garveyism would eventually inspire others, from the Nation of Islam to the Rastafari movement.
Social activist Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. was born on August 17, 1887, in St. Ann's Bay, Jamica. Self-educated, Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, dedicated to promoting African-Americans and resettlement in Africa. In the United States he launched several businesses to promote a separate black nation. After he was convicted of mail fraud and deported back to Jamaica, he continued his work for black repatriation to Africa.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey was the last of 11 children born to Marcus Garvey, Sr. and Sarah Jane Richards. His father was a stone mason, and his mother a domestic worker and farmer. Garvey, Sr. was a great influence on Marcus, who once described him as "severe, firm, determined, bold, and strong, refusing to yield even to superior forces if he believed he was right." His father was known to have a large library, where young Garvey learned to read.
At age 14, Marcus became a printer's apprentice. In 1903, he traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, and soon became involved in union activities. In 1907, he took part in an unsuccessful printer's strike and the experience kindled in him a passion for political activism. Three years later, he traveled throughout Central America working as an newspaper editor and writing about the exploitation of migrant workers in the plantations. He later traveled to London where he attended Birkbeck College (University of London) and worked for the African Times and Orient Review, which advocated Pan-African nationalism.
Founding the United Negro Improvement Association
Inspired by these experiences, Marcus Garvey returned to Jamaica in 1912 and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) with the goal of uniting all of African diaspora to "establish a country and absolute government of their own." After corresponding with Booker T. Washington, the American educator who founded Tuskegee Institute, Garvey traveled to the United States in 1916 to raise funds for a similar venture in Jamaica. He settled in New York City and formed a UNIA chapter in Harlem to promote a separatist philosophy of social, political, and economic freedom for blacks. In 1918, Garvey began publishing the widely distributed newspaper Negro World to convey his message.
By 1919, Marcus Garvey and UNIA had launched the Black Star Line, a shipping company that would establish trade and commerce between Africans in America, the Caribbean, South and Central America, Canada and Africa. At the same time, Garvey started the Negros Factories Association, a series of companies that would manufacture marketable commodities in every big industrial center in the Western hemisphere and Africa.
In August 1920, UNIA claimed 4 million members and held its first International Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Before a crowd of 25,000 people from all over world, Marcus Garvey spoke of having pride in African history and culture. Many found his words inspiring, but not all. Some established black leaders found his separatist philosophy ill-conceived. W.E.B. Du Bois, a prominent black leader and officer of the N.A.A.C.P. called Garvey, "the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America." Garvey felt Du Bois was an agent of the white elite.
Charges and Loss of Authority
In 1922, Marcus Garvey and three other UNIA officials were charged with mail fraud involving the Black Star Line. The trial records indicate several improprieties occurred in the prosecution of the case. It didn't help that the shipping line's books contained many accounting irregularities. On June 23, 1923, Garvey was convicted and sentenced to prison for five years. Claiming to be a victim of a politically motivated miscarriage of justice, Garvey appealed his conviction, but was denied. In 1927 he was released from prison and deported to Jamaica.
Garvey continued his political activism and the work of UNIA in Jamaica, and then moved to London in 1935. But he did not command the same influence he had earlier. Perhaps in desperation or maybe in delusion, Garvey collaborated with outspoken segregationist and white supremacist Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi to promote a reparations scheme. The Greater Liberia Act of 1939 would deport 12 million African-Americans to Liberia at federal expense to relieve unemployment. The act failed in Congress, and Garvey lost even more support among the black population.
Death and Legacy
Marcus Garvey died in London in 1940 after several strokes. Due to travel restrictions during World War II, his body was interred in London. In 1964, his remains were exhumed and taken to Jamaica, where the government proclaimed him Jamaica's first national hero and re-interred him at a shrine in the National Heroes Park. But his memory and influence remain. His message of pride and dignity inspired many in the early days of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. In tribute to his many contributions, Garvey's bust has been displayed in the Organization of American States' Hall of Heroes in Washington, D.C. The country of Ghana has named its shipping line the Black Star Line and its national soccer team the Black Stars, in honor of Garvey.
Activist, Educator, Scholar, Businessman
Thurgood Marshall was instrumental in ending legal segregation and became the first African American justice of the Supreme Court.
Who Was Thurgood Marshall?
Thurgood Marshall was an American lawyer who was appointed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court in 1967. He was the first African American to hold the position and served for 24 years, until 1991. Marshall studied law at Howard University. As counsel to the NAACP, he utilized the judiciary to champion equality for African Americans. In 1954, he won the Brown v. Board of Education case, in which the Supreme Court ended racial segregation in public schools.
Early Life and Family
Marshall was born on July 2, 1908, in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, William Marshall, was the grandson of a slave who worked as a steward at an exclusive club, and his mother, Norma, was a kindergarten teacher.
One of William's favorite pastimes was to listen to cases at the local courthouse before returning home to rehash the lawyers' arguments with his sons. Thurgood later recalled, "Now you want to know how I got involved in law? I don't know. The nearest I can get is that my dad, my brother and I had the most violent arguments you ever heard about anything. I guess we argued five out of seven nights at the dinner table."
Marshall attended Baltimore's Colored High and Training School (later renamed Frederick Douglass High School), where he was an above-average student and put his finely honed skills of argument to use as a star member of the debate team. The teenage Marshall was also something of a mischievous troublemaker. His greatest high school accomplishment, memorizing the entire United States Constitution, was actually a teacher's punishment for misbehaving in class.
After graduating from high school in 1926, Marshall attended Lincoln University, a historically Black college in Pennsylvania. There, he joined a remarkably distinguished student body that included Kwame Nkrumah, the future president of Ghana, poet Langston Hughes and jazz singer Cab Calloway.
After graduating from Lincoln with honors in 1930, Marshall applied to the University of Maryland Law School. Despite being overqualified academically, Marshall was rejected because of his race. This firsthand experience with discrimination in education made a lasting impression on Marshall and helped determine the future course of his career.
Instead of Maryland, Marshall attended law school in Washington, D.C. at Howard University, another historically Black school. The dean of Howard Law School at the time was the pioneering civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall quickly fell under the tutelage of Houston, a notorious disciplinarian and extraordinarily demanding professor. Marshall recalled of Houston, "He would not be satisfied until he went to a dance on the campus and found all of his students sitting around the wall reading law books instead of partying."
Marshall graduated magna cum laude from Howard in 1933. He briefly attempted to establish his own practice in Baltimore, but without experience, he failed to land any significant cases.
In 1934, Marshall began working for the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1936, Marshall moved to New York City to work full time as legal counsel for the NAACP. Over several decades, Marshall argued and won a variety of cases to strike down many forms of legalized racism, helping to inspire the American civil rights movement.
Murray v. Pearson
In one of Marshall's first cases — which he argued alongside his mentor, Charles Houston — he defended another well-qualified undergraduate, Donald Murray, who like himself had been denied entrance to the University of Maryland Law School. Marshall and Houston won Murray v. Pearson in January 1936, the first in a long string of cases designed to undermine the legal basis for de jure racial segregation in the United States.
Chambers v. Florida
Marshall's first victory before the Supreme Court came in Chambers v. Florida (1940), in which he successfully defended four Black men who had been convicted of murder on the basis of confessions coerced from them by police.
Smith v. Allwright
Another crucial Supreme Court victory for Marshall came in the 1944 case of Smith v. Allwright, in which the Court struck down the Democratic Party's use of whites-only primary elections in various Southern states.
Brown v. Board of Education
The great achievement of Marshall's career as a civil-rights lawyer was his victory in the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group of Black parents in Topeka, Kansas, whose children were forced to attend all-Black segregated schools. Through Brown v. Board, one of the most important cases of the 20th century, Marshall challenged head-on the legal underpinning of racial segregation, the doctrine of "separate but equal" established by the 1896 Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson.
On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal," and therefore racial segregation of public schools violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
While enforcement of the Court's ruling proved to be uneven and painfully slow, Brown v. Board provided the legal foundation, and much of the inspiration, for the American civil rights movement that unfolded over the next decade. At the same time, the case established Marshall as one of the most successful and prominent lawyers in America.
Circuit Court Judge and Solicitor General
In 1961, newly-elected President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall as a judge for the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Serving as a circuit court judge over the next four years, Marshall issued more than 100 decisions, none of which was overturned by the Supreme Court.
In 1965, Kennedy's successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, appointed Marshall to serve as the first Black U.S. solicitor general, the attorney designated to argue on behalf of the federal government before the Supreme Court. During his two years as solicitor general, Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases that he argued before the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Justice
In 1967, President Johnson nominated Marshall to serve on the bench before which he had successfully argued so many times before the United States Supreme Court. On October 2, 1967, Marshall was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, becoming the first African American to serve on the nation's highest court. Marshall joined a liberal Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, which aligned with Marshall's views on politics and the Constitution.
As a Supreme Court justice, Marshall consistently supported rulings upholding strong protection of individual rights and liberal interpretations of controversial social issues. He was part of the majority that ruled in favor of the right to abortion in the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade, among several other cases. In the 1972 case Furman v. Georgia, which led to a de facto moratorium on the death penalty, Marshall articulated his opinion that the death penalty was unconstitutional in all circumstances.
Throughout Marshall's 24-year tenure on the Court, Republican presidents appointed eight consecutive justices, and Marshall gradually became an isolated liberal member of an increasingly conservative Court.
For the latter part of his time on the bench, Marshall was largely relegated to issuing strongly-worded dissents, as the Court reinstated the death penalty and limited affirmative action measures and abortion rights. Marshall retired from the Supreme Court in 1991; Justice Clarence Thomas replaced him.
Marshall married Vivian "Buster" Burey in 1929, and the couple remained married until her death in 1955. Shortly thereafter, Marshall married Cecilia Suyat, his secretary at the NAACP. The couple had two sons together, Thurgood Jr. and John Marshall.
Marshall died on January 24, 1993, at the age of 84.
Legacy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X
Marshall stands alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X as one of the greatest and most important figures of the American civil rights movement. Although he may be the least popularly celebrated of the three, Marshall was arguably the most instrumental in the movement's achievements toward racial equality.
Marshall's strategy of attacking racial inequality through the courts represented a third way of pursuing racial equality, more pragmatic than King's soaring rhetoric and less polemical than Malcolm X's strident separatism. In the aftermath of Marshall's death, an obituary read: "We make movies about Malcolm X, we get a holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, but every day we live with the legacy of Justice Thurgood Marshall."