Literature

W.E.B. DuBoise

W.E.B. DuBoise

(b. February 23, 1868, Great Barrington, Mass.; d. August 27, 1963, Accra, Ghana), writer, social scientist, critic, and public intellectual; cofounder of the Niagara Movement, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Pan-African Congress; editor of the NAACP magazine, The Crisis.

Along with Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, historians consider W. E. B. Du Bois one of the most influential African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Born only six years after emanicipation, Du Bois was active well into his nineties, dying in 1963, on the eve of the March on Washington.  Continue reading

Stokley Carmichael

Stokley Carmichael

Original name: KWAME TOURE (b. June 29, 1941, Port of Spain, Trinidad–d. Nov. 15, 1998, Conakry, Guinea), West-Indian-born civil-rights activist, leader of black nationalism in the United States in the 1960s and originator of its rallying slogan, “black power.”

Carmichael immigrated to New York City in 1952, attended high school in the Bronx, and enrolled at Howard University in 1960. There he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Nonviolent Action Group. In 1961 Carmichael was one of several Freedom Riders who traveled through the South challenging segregation laws in interstate transportation. For his participation he was arrested and jailed for about 50 days in Jackson, Miss.  Continue reading

Lorraine Hansberry

(b. May 19, 1930, Chicago, Ill., U.S.–d. Jan. 12, 1965, New York, N.Y.), American playwright whose Raisin in the Sun (1959) was the first drama by a black woman to be produced on Broadway.

Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry

Hansberry’s father, a prosperous real-estate broker, fought a lengthy legal battle in the late 1930s against restrictive covenants that kept Chicago’s black inhabitants in ghettos. As part of this struggle the Hansberry family moved into a white neighbourhood, where Lorraine met daily hostility in her walks to and from school. Although her father took the case to the Supreme Court and won, he became disillusioned with the prospects for black equality in the United States and moved to Mexico.

Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin for two years and then studied painting in Chicago and Mexico, before she decided she had no talent for it. Moving to New York in 1950, she held a number of jobs, meanwhile perfecting her skill as a writer.  Continue reading

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was born on September 24, 1825 to free parents. A few years later, she was orphaned. Harper received her education at a school for free African-Americans run by her uncle, William Watkins. The school was located at the present day site of the Baltimore Convention Center.

At the age of 13, Harper’s formal education came to an end when she took a job as a nursemaid.

Harper’s first publication was a collection of poetry and prose entitled Autumn Leaves. It was published while she was a teenager. Harper moved to Philadelphia. She published another volume of poems entitled Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects (1857). This work sold over 10,000 copies within its first five years of publication. In 1860, Harper married the love of her life, Fenton Harper.  Continue reading

Anna Ella Carroll

Anna Ella Carroll

Anna Ella Carroll

More than a century following her death, after being ignored, oppressed, and–literally–erased from history, Anna Ella Carroll is finally getting the last word. Carroll was an intriguing and atypical 19th century woman who emerged from the male-dominated realm of war, politics, and diplomacy.

As a key military strategist, Presidential advisor, and “unofficial” member of Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet, Carroll was probably the most powerful woman in American during the Civil War. Biographers note that she could “scheme, connive, and maneuver as well as any man.”  Continue reading

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