William Wells Brown

William Wells Brown

William Wells Brown was born near Lexington, Kentucky, in 1814. His father was George Higgins, a white plantation owner, but his mother was a black slave. “My mother’s name was Elizabeth. She had seven children, Solomon, Leander, Benjamin, Joseph, Millford, Elizabeth, and myself. No two of us were children of the same father.”

As a house slave he was better treated than the field workers: “I was a house servant – a situation preferable to that of a field hand, as I was better fed, better clothed, and not obliged to rise at the ringing of the bell, but about half an hour after.”

When he was a child his master moved to Saint Charles, Missouri. “My master owned about forty slaves, twenty-five of whom were field hands… in addition to his practice as a physician, he carried on milling, merchandising and farming. He had a large farm, the principal productions of which were tobacco and hemp. The slave cabins were situated on the back part of the farm, with the house of the overseer, whose name was Grove Cook, in their midst.”  Continue reading

James Augustine Healey

James Augustine Healy the first black bishop ordained in the U.S.

James Augustine Healy, was appointed February 12, 1875, and consecrated as Bishop of Portland (Maine) at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (see Cathedral) on June 2, 1875. James Augustine Healy became the first black bishop ordained in the United States. He was the son of an Irish immigrant, Michael Healy, who became a prosperous plantation-owner in Georgia, and a mulatto woman who was actually a slave.

James was educated in northern schools and later attended the newly established Holy Cross College. There he made his decision to enter the priesthood. He furthered his studies in Montreal and Paris where he was ordained in 1854 at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. After ordination Father Healy was assigned to Bishop John Fitzpatrick’s Boston Diocese. He remained there serving first at the House of the Angel Guardian, then as Chancellor of the Diocese and finally as pastor of St. James Church. When his appointment came as the second Bishop of Portland, he was forty-five years old.  Continue reading

Slavery abolished in all French territories

On 4 February 1794, the First Republic (Convention) voted for the abolition of slavery in all French colonies.  The abolition decree stated that “the Convention declares the slavery of the Blacks abolished in all the colonies;  consequently, all men, irrespective of colour, living in the colonies are French citizens and will enjoy all the rights provided by the Constitution.”

Restored by the Consulate in 1802, slavery was definitively abolished in 1848 by the Second Republic, on Victor Schoelcher’s initiative.

Claude McKay

Claude McKay

Claude McKay was born in Jamaica on 15th September, 1890. He began writing poetry as a schoolboy. He worked as a policeman in Spanish Town and when he was twenty-two had his first volume of poems, Songs of Jamaica (1912) published.In 1912 McKay moved to the United States where he attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and Kansas State University. He continued to write poetry and in 1918 his work was praised by both Frank Harris and Max Eastman. The following year, his poem, If We Must Die, was published in Eastman’s journal, The Liberator.

Frank Harris encouraged McKay to obtain writing experience in England. In 1919 McKay travelled to England where he met George Bernard Shaw who introduced him to influential left-wing figures in journalism. This included Sylvia Pankhurst, who recruited him to write for her trade union journal, Workers’ Dreadnought. While in London McKay read the works of Karl Marx and becomes a committed socialist.  Continue reading

First Pan-African Congress

Speakers at The Pan African Congress,. Brussels, Belgium,1921

In 1919, the first Pan-African Congress was organized by W. E. B. Du Bois. There were 57 delegates representing 15 countries, a smaller number than originally intended because British and American governments refused to issue passports ro their citizens who planned on attending.[1] Their main task was petitioning the Versailles Peace Conference which was held in Paris at that time. Among their demands were that:

  • The Allies should be in charge of the administration of former territories in Africa as a Condominium on behalf of the Africans who were living there.
  • Africa be granted home rule and Africans should take part in governing their countries as fast as their development permits until at some specified time in the future.

The problem was that colonist offered no end in sight. Hence, the resistance and war pursued.

Charles Edward Anderson

Charles Edward Anderson

Charles Edward Anderson was born on a farm in University City, near St. Louis, Missouri on August 13, 1919. He graduated as valedictorian from Sumner High School in 1937. He received a Bachelor of Science from Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri in 1941. He was Certified in Meteorology (master’s degree) from the University of Chicago in 1943. Charles Anderson also earned a Master of Science inChemistry in 1948 from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, New York. In 1960, Mr. Anderson earned a Ph.D. in Meteorology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Massachusetts.

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William Alexander Scott II

William Alexander Scott II

William Alexander Scott II came to Atlanta to receive an education and ended up, at the tender age of 26, founding a newspaper that would become the first successful African-American daily in the nation. The son of a minister, Scott did not allow the presence of another Black newspaper, The Atlanta Independent, to deter him from starting the Atlanta World on Aug. 5, 1928.

The publishers of the Atlanta World have felt the need of a Southern Negro Newspaper, published by Southern Negroes, to be read by Southern Negroes, Scott wrote in the first issue. By 1930, the newspaper was one of the most widely circulated Black papers in the South. Using the Atlanta World as fuel, Scott charged ahead, establishing the first chain of African-American newspapers in 1931. The Scott Newspaper Syndicate eventually would include 50 newspapers. On March 12, 1932, Scott achieved another goal when the Atlanta World went daily.  Continue reading

Lena Horne

Lena Horne

b. 1917 – Lena Home is known and loved not only for her musical and dramatic talents but also for her continual interest in and support of many humane causes. She started in show business with the chorus line at the Cotton Club in 1933. From there she toured with Noble Sissle’s orchestra, and she later joined Charlie Barnett’s band, with which she made her first records.

In the early 1940s Home went to Hollywood, where she became the first black woman to sign a term contract in film. Her films include Panama Hattie (1942), Cabin in the Sky (1943), and Stormy Weather (1943).  Continue reading