Archive for revolutionary. activists

Amiri Baraka

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE with tags , on February 23, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Amiri Baraka, born Everett LeRoi Jones, has been a voice of revolutionary poems, plays, music history, criticism and over 40 books of essays since the early 60’s. Baraka is a political and cultural activist who has lectured in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. Known as the founder of the Black Arts Movement of Harlem in the 60’s, Baraka was one of the earliest influences in Black Nationalism.

In 1968, he became a Muslim, changed his name to Imanu Amiri Baraka, and founded Kawaida, a Black Muslim organization. In that same year he gave benefits for the Black Panther Party. From 1968 to 1975, he was chairman of the Committee for United Newark, a Black united front organization. And in 1974, Baraka dropped Imamu, meaning “spiritual leader” when he embraced Marxist Leninism.

Baraka’s influences include John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Malcolm X, Sun Ra to the Cuban Revolution, and revolutionary movements around the world. His works explored topics such as reparations, racism, national oppression, colonialism, neo-colonialism, self determination, and national & human liberation.

His unique and poetic way of connecting words has been honored by documentaries such as Mario Van Peeple’s Poetic License and St. Clair Bourne’s In Motion: Amiri Baraka. He has appeared in films such as M.K. Asante, Jr.’s The Black Candle. His awards include:

Pen/Faulkner Award

Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama

The City College of New York’s Langston Hughes Award

Before Columbus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award

The Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts fellowships

He has taught at the New School for Social Research in New York, the University of Buffalo, Columbia University, San Francisco State University, Yale University, and George Washington University. Since 1985, he has been a professor at State University of New York. He and his wife Amina are co-directors of Kimako’s Blues People, a community arts space.

W. E. B. Du Bois

Posted in HISTORY, North America with tags , on February 21, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

W. E. B. Du Bois, 1868-1963, scholar, sociologist, author, and civil rights activist, was the first African American to graduate from Harvard University. William Edward Burghardt Du Boise was one of 60 people to answer a call to protest lynching and the 1908 race riot of Springfield, Illinois. From this action the group formed the NAACP and focused on principles Du Bois had used in his Niagara Movement of 1905.

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Publications by Du Bois

  • 1896   The Suppression of the Slave Trade to the United States of America,
  • 1899   The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study
  • 1903   The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches
  • 1909   John Brown
  • 1934   Editor of NAACP magazine the Crisis
  • 1915   The Negro
  • 1935   Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880
  • 1940   Dusk of Dawn: An Essay toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept
  • 1944   Founds Phylon magazine
  • 1945   Encyclopedia of the Negro: Preparatory Volume with Reference Lists and Reports
  • 1955   The World and Africa: An Inquiry into the Part which Africa Has Played in World History
  • 1968   The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois

In addition to his many books, magazines, and other publications, Du Bois traveled around the world. In 1926, he visited the Soviet Union. He visited Haiti and Cuba in 1944. He attended the founding conference of the United Nations in 1945. In 1948, he was appointed co-chairman of the Council on African Affairs. In 1949, he attended the world peace congress in New York, Paris, and Moscow. He returned to the Soviet Union in 1958 and stayed in China in 1959. That same year he joined the Communist Party of the United States. In 1961, he moved to Ghana after an invitation from the president and became a citizen in 1963. W. E. B. Du Bois died on August 27, 1963 in Accra, Ghana.

W. E. B. Du Bois –

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”

The world learned volumes from this man.

Malcolm X, the Educator

Posted in Awareness, HISTORY, North America with tags , , , on January 28, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Malcolm X is remembered by most as a radical militant. Due to the movie or his autobiography, people associate Malcolm with the Nation of Islam during the 60’s or Black Nationalism. His birthday is not honored as a national holiday. Rarely is he mentioned during Black History month, yet Malcolm’s role in African American history is notable. Malcolm is responsible for so much more than what he is accredited.

Before James Brown sung “Said it loud, I’m black and I’m proud”, Malcolm X taught what he referred to as “knowledge of ourselves.” It might sound strange today, but before the Black Nationalism, there was no unity of who African Americans are as a race, thus explaining the evolution of terms; Colored, Negro, Afro-American, and African American. Other African American leaders of the time, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were still referring to themselves as Negroes.

Malcolm encouraged African Americans to understand the history of slavery years before Alex Haley wrote Roots. It was Malcolm’s influence that encouraged Alex Haley to write Roots and to also write the Auto-biography of Malcolm X.

Malcolm was born Malcolm Little. He replaced “Little” with an “X” for the unknown.  He later changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. It was his example that encouraged millions of African Americans to change their names to reflect their African heritage.

Photo by Herman Miller