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DARFUR continued from the home page

 The sultanate of Darfur first entered the historical record during the seventeenth century, under Sulayman. Sulayman belonged to the Keira Dynasty, which claimed Arab descent and which removed the Tunjur from power. Except for an interval during the nineteenth century, this dynasty ruled Darfur until 1916. Gradually the Keira merged with the Fur, the agricultural people over whom they ruled. (The state’s name, Dar Fur, means “house of the Fur” in Arabic.)

The slave trade figured prominently in both the formation and the expansion of the Darfur Sultanate. Parties from Darfur obtained slaves and ivory by either raiding or trading with the stateless societies that lay
to its south and southwest. Not
only did Darfur’s rulers export slaves to North Africa and along the “forty days’ road,” which crossed the desert from Darfur to Egypt, but slaves also served the sultan as soldiers, laborers, and bureaucrats.
 

Sulayman’s successors expanded the state. In 1786 Sultan Muhammad Tayrab conquered the province of Kordofan from the Funj Sultanate of Sennar to the east. In 1821, however, Egyptian forces conquered the Funj Sultanate and wrested Kordofan from Darfur. Traders from KHARTOUM then began to compete in the slave trade with those in Darfur. Turkish-Egyptian forces under Rahma al-Zubayr conquered Darfur in 1874 and overthrew the Keira sultan. In 1885 a Sudanese rebellion under a religious leader called the Mahdi overthrew the Egyptian state, which had come under increasing British influence. In 1898 British forces defeated the MAHDIST STATE and placed it under Anglo-Egyptian administration. Under their policy of indirect rule, the British restored the Darfur Sultanate under Ali Dinar Zakariyya. Ali Dinar played a significant role in an Islamic, anti-Western alliance that formed during World War I. The Anglo-Egyptian government subsequently invaded Darfur, killed Ali Dinar, ended the sultanate, and incorporated Darfur into Sudan. After Sudan attained independence in 1956, Darfur remained under Sudanese rule.

The central Darfur region of Sudan is inhabited largely by Fur farmers; the northernmost section by nomadic camel herders; and the eastern and southern zones by Arab cattle herders. Periods of severe drought since the late 1960s forced the cattle and camel herders to encroach on the rich agricultural land in the central section of Darfur. As competition for access to water and pasture intensified, small-scale raids turned into persistent battles among the different groups. Attempts by successive governments to achieve peace in the region have failed and the fighting continues.

In February 2003 two rebel groups -- the Sudan Liberation Army Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement (with members drawn from the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups) -- demanded that the Arab-ruled Sudanese government begin to share power and end the economic marginalization of Darfur. The government responded by targeting the civilian populations from which the rebels were drawn.

With support from the Sudanese government, Arab Janjaweed militias forced one million people -- mostly farmers -- to flee to refugee camps. Thousands have died or been killed; tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed.

This article by Robert Fay (excerpted from Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, Second Edition. Edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Kwame Anthony Appiah. (Oxford University Press; April 2005)

 

CHIEF RED CLOUD
Makhpiya-Luta
(1822-1909)

As a warrior and a statesman, Red Cloud's success in confrontations with the United States government marked him as one of the most important Lakota leaders of the nineteenth century.

Although the details of his early life are unclear, Red Cloud was born near the forks of the Platte River, near what is now North Platte, Nebraska. His mother was an Oglala and his father, who died in Red Cloud's youth, was a Brulé Red Cloud was raised in the household of his maternal uncle, Chief Smoke.

Much of Red Cloud's early life was spent at war, first and most often against the neighboring Pawnee and Crow, at times against other Oglala. In 1841 he killed one of his uncle's primary rivals, an event which divided the Oglala for the next fifty years. He gained enormous prominence within the Lakota nation for his leadership in territorial wars against the Pawnees, Crows, Utes and Shoshones.

Beginning in 1866, Red Cloud orchestrated the most successful war against the United States ever fought by an Indian nation. The army had begun to construct forts along the Bozeman Trail, which ran through the heart of Lakota territory in present-day Wyoming to the Montana gold fields from Colorado's South Platte River. As caravans of miners and settlers began to cross the Lakota's land, Red Cloud was haunted by the vision of Minnesota's expulsion of the Eastern Lakota in 1862 and 1863. So he launched a series of assaults on the forts, most notably the crushing defeat of Lieutenant Colonel William Fetterman's column of eighty men just outside Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming, in December of 1866.

The garrisons were kept in a state of exhausting fear of further attacks through the rest of the winter.

Red Cloud's strategies were so successful that by 1868 the United States government had agreed to the Fort Laramie Treaty. The treaty's remarkable provisions mandated that the United States abandon its forts along the Bozeman Trail and guarantee the Lakota their possession of what is now the Western half of South Dakota, including the Black Hills, along with much of Montana and Wyoming.

The peace, of course, did not last. Custer's 1874 Black Hills expedition again brought war to the northern Plains, a war that would mean the end of independent Indian nations. For reasons which are not entirely clear, Red Cloud did not join Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and other war leaders in the Lakota War of 1876-77. However, after the military defeat of the Lakota nation, Red Cloud continued to fight for the needs and autonomy of his people, even if in less obvious or dramatic ways than waging war.

Throughout the 1880's Red Cloud struggled with Pine Ridge Indian Agent Valentine McGillycuddy over the distribution of government food and supplies and the control of the Indian police force. He was eventually successful in securing McGillycuddy's dismissal. Red Cloud cultivated contacts with sympathetic Eastern reformers, especially Thomas A. Bland, and was not above pretending for political effect to be more acculturated to white ways than he actually was.

Fearing the Army's presence on his reservation, Red Cloud refrained from endorsing the Ghost Dance movement, and unlike Sitting Bull and Big Foot, he escaped the Army's occupation unscathed. Thereafter he continued to fight to preserve the authority of chiefs such as himself, opposed leasing Lakota lands to whites, and vainly fought allotment of Indian reservations into individual tracts under the 1887 Dawes Act. He died in 1909, but his long and complex life endures as testimony to the variety of ways in which Indians resisted their conquest.


 

WHAT IS TIMBUKTU?
(click pictures for a larger image)

Timbuktu (also spelled Tombouctou - see map) is widely used to describe a place extremely far away and regarded by many as a myth. In reality it's a city in Mali, West Africa, of such great historical importance that in 1988 it was designated a World Heritage Site.


The Sidi-Yahia MosqueSituated on the southernmost edge of the Sahara Desert, Timbuktu is about eight miles from the Niger River -- closer during the rainy season. It was founded in the twelfth century by Tuareg nomads. By the fourteenth century it had became a major centre for the trans-Sahara gold and salt trade as well as Islamic scholarship and culture, the Oxford University of the Sahara, despite the rise and fall of powerful dynasties around it.

When the emperor Mansa Musa undertook an extravagant pilgrimage with an entourage of thousands from Timbuktu to Mecca via Cairo in 1324, he transformed European and Arabian perceptions about West Africa. Stopping in Cairo to visit the sultan, Musa gave away so much gold that the Egyptian money market crashed.

Musa built the Great Mosque (Djinguereber) and commissioned the Granada architect Abu Ishaq asSahil to design the Sankore mosque. The Sankore University was established around the mosuqe. The Great Mosque has been rebuilt many times, but the Sankore mosque still stands, probably because it was built around a wooden framework which aids the repairs necessary after the annual rains.

By the 1450s, the population reached some 100,000, a quarter of these were scholars, many of whom had studied in Egypt or Mecca. The city reached its peak during the Askia period (1403-1591). Merchants from North Africa came to trade salt, cloth and horses for gold and slaves. Leo Africanus, a Muslim from Granada, left a account of his visit in 1526, which renewed European interest in the "city of gold".

In 1591 Morocco captured Timbuktu. In 1593 its scholars were arrested on suspicion of disloyalty, some were killed and others exiled to Morocco. Even more devastating was the inability of the Moroccan troops in control of the city to protect it from repeated attacks by the Bambara, Fulani, and Tuareg. Timbuktu was in decline.

European explorers were still attempting to reach Africa's 'city of gold' but none had survived. In 1788 a group of Englishmen formed the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa, primarily to discover the source of the Niger and reach Timbuktu. The race was on. Most famous of the failures was Mungo Park. Robbed, tortured by warlords, and finally drowned when his raft was attacked, he did at least get to the Niger, "glittering to the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster."

In 1824 the Geographical Society of Paris offered a considerable reward for the first European to visit Timbuktu and return to tell their tale. The Scottish explorer Gordon Laing is acknowledged as the first European to reach Timbuktu, in 1826. He'd survived a savage attack by Tuareg nomads on his journey from Tripoli to Timbuktu, but was murdered two days after leaving the city.

It was only in 1828 that the first European who lived to tell the tale reached Timbuktu. The French explorer, René-Auguste Caillié disguised himself as an Arab -- he had studied Islam and could speak Arabic. His journey from the coast of West Africa to Timbuktu took him a year (he was ill for five months) but he was so unimpressed he spent only two weeks in the city. His three volumes of his adventures were published in 1830 and received the Geographical Society of Paris' prize.

Other explorers, such as the German geographer Heinrich Barth who visited the city during his five-year trek across Africa, also found the city an anticlimax. A a city of mud-walled buildings in the middle of a harsh desert, not a city of gold. (View some illustration from his book Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa.)

Timbuktu was captured by the French in 1894 who partly restored the city; in 1960 it became part of the independent Republic of Mali. Today Timbuktu is still on the "must-do" list of adventurous travellers, but few have any idea why such a desolate city should be. With the restoration efforts started in the late 1990s to reclaim some of Timbuktu's heritage from the sands of the Sahara, there is hope that this can change.

 

THE BLACK MADONNAS OF EUROPE

For thousands of years the African woman has been worshipped and idolized by individuals, families and nations in Africa and around the world.  Ancient records show her as queen, goddess and saint.  The African woman has led mighty nations into battle, founded splendid royal dynasties, performed sacred miracles and given birth to messiahs.  No other human of any racial or ethnic type has been or should be as broadly venerated as the African woman.  This is as it should be.  All praises due the African woman.

The Black Madonnas of Europe are perhaps the most venerated icons in European Christendom.  According to L.W. Moss and S.C. Cappannari:

All the Black Madonnas are powerful images; they are miracle workers.  They are implored for intercession in the various problems of fertility.  Pilgrimages covering hundreds of kilometers are made to these specific shrines.  The degree of adorational fervor far exceeds that attached to other representations of the Virgin.   For example, until the last decade, when the practice was explicitly forbidden by church authorities, pilgrims journeying to the shrine of Mount Vergine would climb the steps of the church on their knees, licking each step with their tongues. We are, thus equating the blackness of the images with their power.  The attitude of the pilgrim approaches not reverence but worship (latrial)."

In Russia during the nineteenth century the Russian General Kutuzov had his army pray before the Black Madonna of Kazan before the historic victory at Borodina.  The same Madonna is said to have inspired Rasputin and may now be in the United States.  In reference to the Black Madonna of Montserrat, Spain, it said that "He is not well wed who has not taken his wife to Montserrat."  Spain has more than fifty images of the Black Madonna.  Nineteen have been documented in Germany.  Italy has more than thirty Black Madonnas.  France has more than three-hundred.

SOURCES:
The Cult of the Black Virgin, by Ian Begg
Black Women in Antiquity, edited by Ivan Van Sertima

for further information and an extended bibliography see the Global African Presence

 

AFRICANS AND "ENGLISH" BLACKS ON THE FIRST SHIPS TO AUSTRALIA

Thomas ALFORD alias ORFORD, a Negro seaman aged 28, was found guilty at the Old Bailey [in London] in 1784 of stealing and sentenced to 7 years transportation. Alford arrived on the "Alexander."

When his term expired he was allowed to settle at Bulanaming, and later granted one and a half acres at Farm Cove. For 25 years he served as head government gardener. In 1814 he petitioned that his wife and family be sent from England on one of the first available convict ships. 

John CESOR, a Negro, born in Madagascar, was a servant and labourer aged 22 when tried at Kent in 1786 for stealing. Sentenced to 7 years transportation and sent to the hulks, he sailed on the "Alexander".

Reputed initially to be the hardest worker in the colony, Black Cesor was powerfully built, and was famous for his huge appetite [in a colony on short rations, unable to grow enough food and thus dependant on ships arriving from England with supplies, this proved to be his downfall].

In April 1789 he was tried for theft with Black Jimmy and sentenced to transportation [from Sydney] for life to Norfolk Island [where the most dangerous or hardened criminals were sent], but before he could be sent there, he escaped taking arms and ammunition.

Two weeks later he robbed the brickmakers of provisions at Brickfield Hill. On 6 June he was caught trying to rob the assistant commissary's garden. [Governor] Phillip set him to work in chains at Garden Island [in Sydney Harbour] and in concession to his ravenous appetite he was given vegetables from the garden to supplement his normal ration.

In December Cesor escaped again, taking a canoe and a week's provisions. Two nights later he returned to steal a musket, ammunition and an iron pot. Attempting to join the Aborigines, he was speared [and returned to the settlement]... Condemned to death, Cesor was reprieved once again and ordered to serve his original sentence on Norfolk Island. However, in 1793 he was allowed to return to Port Jackson [a.k.a. Sydney] and by July 1794 had taken up his former practice of subsisting in the bush by plundering the outlying settlements. Recaptured, he was set to hard labour, only to escape again in December 1795. He continued to rob the settlers, but when he managed to kill Permulwy, an Aborigine who had murdered a gamekiller in 1791 and who had continued to terrorise settlers, they briefly acclaimed him a hero.

In January 1796 Governor Hunter put a price on Cesor's head of five gallons of spirit [rum or spirit became an accepted form of currency in the 1790's under the auspices of the New South Wales (or Rum) Corps]. The next month an Aborigine named Wimbour tracked Cesor for several days and shot him. 'Thus ended a man', wrote Judge-Advocate Collins, 'who certainly during his life could never have been estimated above the brute and who had given more trouble than any other convict in the settlement'. 

Thomas CHADWICK , born in the West Indies, had lived in England for 7 months when he was tried at the Old Bailey for stealing in 1784. He was sentenced to 7 years transportation and arrived on the "Scarborough". In 1792 he settled at the Eastern Farms and by November had 2 acres under cultivation. 

Samuel CHINNERY, Negro, born around 1773, was tried for burglary at Exeter [England] in 1786 and found guilty of stealing. He was sentenced to 7 years transportation and sailed on the 'Charlotte' . He became a servant to Thomas Arndell [one of 10 surgeons in the First Fleet, later a landowner and magistrate, enjoyed the confidence and favour of all governors under whom he served , died 1821], and at the end of 1789 was living in a hollow tree near the hospital [I presume the Sydney "Rum" Hospital, still located in Macquarie Street in central Sydney], When Arndell charged him with stealing in May 1795, Chinnery was acquitted. Though he owned land he was working as a labourer in 1822. In 1828 Chinnery was still labouring and living at Cornwallis. 

John COFFIN, a Negro servant, was tried at Exeter in 1786 for stealing from his master. He was sentenced to 7 years transportation and sailed on the 'Charlotte'. He worked at Norfolk Island from 1790 to 1793. 

Daniel GORDON, a Negro, was tried at Winchester [England] in 1785 for stealing and sentenced to 7 years transportation. He arrived on the 'Scarborough' and in February 1788 was tried for robbing the public store and condemned to death. Reprieved and confined on Pinchgut [ a small island in Sydney Harbour used as a prison, so named because those incarcerated there were starved - well worth a visit when you come to Sydney!!] to await banishment for life [to Norfolk Island??], he was pardoned on the King's [ George III ] birthday in June. In August 1789 he was tried for stealing again, but as he appeared 'wild and incoherent' in court, his trial was postponed to the following morning. When his condition did not improve, he was placed in the care of the surgeons as unfit for trial. Collins noted that his fellow convicts 'gave him credit for the ability with which he had acted his part and perhaps he deserved their applause'. He died on 13 October 1818, aged 81 years. caption to illustration of an African of somewhat comical appearance on page 94 of book: "Curiously, the handful of Negroes that arrived in the First Fleet were treated with disdain by the Aborigines.

 John MARTIN, a Negro, was tried at the Old Bailey in 1782 for stealing, sentenced to 7 years transportation, and arrived on the 'Alexander'. In 1792 he settled at the Northern Boundary Farms, and 10 years later had 26 acres under crop, and was married with 2 children. By 1806, he was renting 7 acres at Cornwallis. He later worked as a constable. By 1828, retired on a pension, he had a farm at the Field of Mars. John RANDALL also REYNOLDS, a Negro labourer, was tried at Manchester [England] in 1785 for stealing and sentenced to 7 years transportation. He arrived on the 'Alexander' and on 20 February 1788, married Esther Howard (an oyster pedlar aged 28 years, tried at the Old Bailey 1786 for stealing, sentenced to 7 years transportation, arrived on the 'Lady Penrhyn', died 11 October 1789). Reckoned a good shot, he was made an official game killer and killed the first emu seen by Europeans [and Aficans!]. Lieutenant Clark described it as 'a remarkable large bird, as big as an Ostrich'. Randall was later granted land at the Northern Boundary Farms [the area permitted for settlement by the government was limited, with areas beyond 'out-of-bounds'] where, in October 1793, his house was broken into by Irish convicts with blackened faces. On 10 November 1801 he sold his grant for over 40 Pounds Sterling [a large sum], and in 1811 was a landholder in Launceston [northern Tasmania, then called Van Diemen's Land].

 John THOMAS alias COPPER, born in Barbados, was tried at the Old Bailey in 1784 for stealing and sentenced to 7 years transportation. He arrived on the 'Scarborough'. Sent to Norfolk Island [in the South Pacific Ocean, halfway between Australia and New Zealand], he ran into the woods on 17 February 1791 to escape punishment for stealing corn. Lieutenant Clark hoped 'that he will never come back again for he is a great rascal'. 

John WILLIAMS alias Black Jack, a Negro labourer aged fifteen, was sentenced to death in Maidstone [co. Kent, England] in 1784 for stealing. Sentenced to seven years' transportation, he sailed on the 'Scarborough'. In February 1788 [at Sydney, Australia, shortly after arrival of the First Fleet], he was tried for stealing again, with Daniel GORDON [also a 'Negro'], but "being an ignorant black youth" he was pardoned and GORDON was sentenced to death. In April 1790, he stowed away on the [ship] 'Supply' when it sailed to buy urgent provisions at Batavia [food was in very short supply in the convict settlement at Sydney]. Lieutenant Ball spoke favourably of WILLIAMS' conduct during the voyage and half of his 250 lashes were remitted. In 1792, WILLIAMS stowed away on the 'Atlantic'. He was again brought back to [Sydney], but not before he had tried to escape from the 'Atlantic' to the 'Ganges'. He claimed that his term had expired, and when the Governor [of the colony] found that he was telling the truth, he was given the freedom to get away on any ship that would have him.

 _____________________________ 

This completes the list of known or presumed persons of African descent or connection in the First Fleet to Australia which arrived in early 1788. Others probably arrived in the Second and subsequent Fleets of convict ships. Yet more probably arrived as sailors on American sealing and whaling ships, which operated in Australian waters for many years (one of the first American ships, the 'Hope', arrived in December 1792 with a cargo of provisions and 7,500 gallons of rum, which subsequently became accepted as currency in the colony). Africans were reported as among the first patients at the newly opened Adelaide Hospital in South Australia in 1838, and several were publicans in early South Australia. Yet more arrived during the Australian Gold Rushes in the mid nineteenth century. Slavery in the strict sense of the term was not practiced in Australia. Some Africans were convicts, as outlined in this series on the First Fleet, later arrivals were either convict or free. It is pleasing to record that on 19 June 1998 a plaque was unveiled at Paramatta, west of Sydney, to commemorate the life and work of John MARTIN, mentioned in the list of names. Richard Num South Australia.
reprinted from the Black Presence in Britain

The above above information is extracted from the book "1788 - The People of the First Fleet" by Don Chapman, published 1986 by Doubleday, Sydney & Auckland; ISBN 0 86824 265 9 .

My added remarks are in brackets [...] [It is not certain that all names given in this list were of Africans or African Caribbeans - where a subject was listed as born in the New World / West Indies or in Africa, I have included in these extracts. Much more needs to be done.
Unfortunately the primary records are sparse and dispersed, and the sources are secondary ] from the preface: "The outlines for the 1300 or so mini-biographies in this book were provided from the convict lists and musters and colonial returns on microfilm in the Mitchell Library [Sydney, Australia] covering the period from 1788 [the date of arrival of the British settlers in Australia] to 1828..."

 

  • CLASSICAL MUSIC COMPOSER

Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, was born in 1739 on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. His mother was an African slave. His father was a French plantation owner and colonial official.

At age ten Saint-Georges was taken to France. There he continued his early studies in classical music at some of the country's finest schools. Athletics and fencing brought him fame at an early age.

Francois-Joseph Gossec, Conductor of the Concert des Amateurs, chose Saint-Georges as First Violinist in 1769.  Saint-Georges succeeded Gossec as Conductor in 1773.

Two years later, "The Musical Almanac" called the ensemble "the best orchestra for symphonies in Paris and perhaps in Europe".

In 1781 Saint-Georges founded Les Concerts de la Loge Olympique. Again he was the Conductor. He later commissioned Franz Joseph Haydn to compose the six works now known as the Paris Symphonies.

Saint-Georges conducted their first performances in 1787. By then he had also become music director for Queen Marie Antoinette.

During the French Revolution Saint-Georges joined the pro-Revolution National Guard. He later served as Colonel of the National Legion of Midi, whose members were men of color.

He lost his command due to false charges of misconduct. After a year in prison, he was acquitted and released. He then traveled to the Caribbean to fight in support of the Haitian Revolution.

In 1797 Saint-Georges returned to Paris and took charge of the Cercle d'Harmonie concerts. Although he was a prolific composer, he lived to see most of his works published. 

Saint-Georges was a legend in his own time, but also a composer for the ages, as his recorded works demonstrate. (from the Web site Chevalier de Saint-Georges

 

  • Abraham Lincoln was, at the core, a White supremacist

despite issuing on July 30, 1863 an "eye-for-eye" order warning the Confederacy that the Union would shoot a rebel prisoner for every Black prisoner shot, and would condemn a rebel prisoner to a life of hard labor for every Black prisoner sold into slavery. The Order had a somewhat "restraining" influence only on the Confederate government's voiced policy, for individual commanders and soldiers continued to murder captured Black soldiers.  Although this act appeared to be motivated by feelings of benevolence toward the slaves, it was intended primarily as another way to intimidate the Confederacy

Also, the Emancipation Proclamation's true intent has been distorted and ignored by most history books.  It freed only those slaves in the warring Confederate states, and the Proclamation's true intent is stated in the beginning with the words... "Upon military necessity..."

Abraham Lincoln also wished Blacks would permanently leave America. His opposition to slavery was based on the simple belief that no person, "inferior" or not,  should be enslaved.

Before he became president Lincoln partially revealed his true feelings toward Blacks in his debates with Stephen Douglas. He stated "I will say then, that I am not, nor have ever been, in favor of bringing about in any way, the social and political equality of the white and black races." 

Many more details can be obtained in Congressman William Clay's book about the history of Black congressmen Just Permanent Interests, and Lerone Bennett, Jr.'s new book, Forced Into Glory - Abraham Lincoln's White Dream. 

 

  • The Wilmington Riot of 1898 is rarely mentioned in books and other writings.

On November 11, 1898 there was a riot in the city of Wilmington, NC. Similar to what would later happen in Rosewood, Fla., many Blacks were killed by Whites, but in this instance the town was left standing. Not much has been written about the "Wilmington Massacre", one of the few sources on the subject is the book "Cape Fear Rising". The following information is taken from that book, and interviews with people from Wilmington, NC.

Setting: In 1898, Wilmington, North Carolina (on the Cape Fear River) was a thriving town of some 25,000 residents, both Black and White. In addition to Blacks having most of the jobs as stevedores and tradesmen, there was also a growing middle class of Black professionals such as lawyers and businessmen. Rumor has it that the Cape Fear River was named after the point on the river where "fear" was instilled in slaves to keep them docile. Possibly as proof of this theory, there is a spot on the river called Nigger Head Point, where it is said that the heads of runaway slaves were placed as a warning to other slaves who might consider running away.

Motive: The political atmosphere in the city of Wilmington is controlled by the Republican party, who support growing Black middle class. The thriving Black population, combined with the Republican power on the Board of Aldermen, is seen as a threat to many non-Republican, non-Blacks in the city. A local election is fast approaching and since Blacks also outnumber Whites in the city, there is concern over who they may vote into office.

Leading up to the election, undocumented stories of Blacks committing crimes against Whites are published in the local daily papers. Though there is no proof of the incidents, the tension in the town increases. On election day, Blacks are kept from the voting booths in many ways, sometimes under threat of death. The result is that White Supremacists are voted into many public offices. There has been no bloodshed but the tension remains.

The Event: Shortly after the election, a Black activist is targeted and word is sent out that he must leave town or be lynched. The next day, hundreds of members of The Wilmington Light Infantry and the Naval Reserve march through the Black "Brooklyn" section of Wilmington looking for this individual. He is not found, but in the process homes are burned, shots get fired and a riot breaks out. The shooting started at the intersection of Harnett and Fourth Streets. Though some Blacks have guns, they are no match for the trained soldiers. During the massacre, rumors are circulating that mobs of Blacks are on the way to attack. No mobs ever appear, but the rumors are sufficient to keep the riot going. In the midst of the city at war with itself, in what may have been planned months in advance, the Mayor, the Chief of Police and Board of Aldermen are forced to resign and nominate certain individuals to take their places.

Blacks are leaving the city in droves, some hiding in the Oakdale Cemetery, some in the swamps down by the river. It is estimated that between 120 and 150 people died during the riot. Most, if not all, were Black. It is in the midst of all this confusion that a list of names is produced. The list includes Black professionals: preachers, lawyers, merchants, restaurateurs, barbers, politicians, policeman's, as well as Whites sympathizers. Everyone on the list is rounded up and immediately put on trains and shipped out of the city. When the dust settled, the entire Black middle class of Wilmington, North Carolina has disappeared. All their property was redistributed to the White residents of the city, and the new city government made sure there was no record of the prior ownership.

The men who hijacked the city government, were responsible for the deaths of innocent Blacks, who drove out all opposition party members, who eliminated the entire Black middle class in Wilmington, went on to long and distinguished careers in state and federal government and where hailed as heroes for many years. Statues of some of them still stand in Wilmington.

 

  • During the time of slavery, many Whites said "Why  would enslaved Africans attempt to escape? They Must be Sick to Want to be Free", but Black slaves continued to try and escape nonetheless.

This is because slaves were "given" a world much better than the "heathen savagery" from which they were taken. There was a name given to the illness that caused slaves to try and escape. 

Drapetomania was the "disease" that caused Negroes to run away (according to Samuel Cartwright of the University of Louisiana, "They must be sick.") See "1001 Things Everyone Should Know About African American History", by Jeffrey C. Stewart, p. 36. Also from the same book:

Ellen and William Craft - in 1847 these slaves, who had a talent for cross-dressing, escaped enslavement in Georgia by disguising themselves. Ellen, who was very light-skinned, posed as an elderly White gentleman and the owner of a slave traveling with him (William). The cover story was that the slave owner was traveling to Philadelphia for emergency medical treatment. The Crafts made it safely to Boston where they told their story. Word of their method of escape eventually reached their owners and, using the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, they sent slave catchers to Boston to retrieve them. The Crafts again fled, this time to London. After the Civil War they returned to America and bought a plantation near their old home in Savannah, Georgia. Ibid.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 - A slave owner had to simply produce an affidavit that he or she had ownership of a slave, bring the affidavit to a judge, along with the slave, and the reputed slave would be remanded by the judge to the slave holder's custody. The law also demanded that sheriffs and marshals assist those who came North looking for fugitives. The law was written in the Compromise of 1850 to satisfy the South, but resulted in opposition to slavery becoming even more fierce and widespread. Ibid.

The first person arrested under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was James Hamlet, who was seized in New York. Ibid., p. 37.

Henry "Box" Brown - In 1856 Henry Brown, a slave in Richmond, Va., ordered a 3x2x8 box and put in a jug of water, a few biscuits and a bar to open if from the inside. A friend addressed the box to the home of an abolitionist in Philadelphia, and marked the box "Handle with Care" and "This Side Up". After 26 hours the box was opened in the Philadelphia office of the Anti-Slavery Society and Henry Brown was free. Ibid

 

  • The Mighty Nation  of the Niger

Before the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade, a great civilization arose along the Niger River where it brushes up against the southwestern Sahara. Established by the Songhai, a nation of black-skinned scholars, warriors, merchants, farmers, and artisans, the empire that bore their name became well known throughout North Africa, Southwest Asia, and Europe for its power and wealth. The Songhai was the third and greatest of three black kingdoms that waxed and waned in this region between the 8th and 16th centuries. its predecessors left their names, and reflected gory, to the modern African nations of Ghana and Mali. Sometime around AD 801, caravans of traders from the lands north of the desert brought south a new religion, Islam, which played a role in shaping the states of this region.

The empire's founding ruler was Sunni Ali Ber - Ali the Great, of the Sunni dynasty. Sunni Ali began his campaign of conquest in 1468 by taking Timbuktu, which was then ruled by the Tuarges a nomadic Berber people. Sunni Ali's next target, the city of Djenne, did not surrender until 1473, after a siege that lasted, according to histories, for seven years, seven months, and seven days. Admiring the courageous stand of the city's defenders Sunni Ali annexed Djenne but left its king on his throne and its population unharmed.

As Sunni Ali consolidated his new realm, he strove to reconcile the beliefs of the rural folk who believe in their traditional deities, with those of the Muslim city dwellers. He successfully maintained a balance between the two factions for the duration of his 27-year reign.

Sunni Ali's son and successor, Sunni Baru, however, paid little obedience to the prevailing Islam of the cities. His actions fractured the fragile unity that his father had worked so long to preserve, and, acting in the defense of their faith, Muslim insurgents deposed him in 1493, just 6 months after he inherited the throne. The leader of the rebels, Muhammad ibn Abubakr Toure, became the new emperor and ruled the Songhai Empire, expanding its domains for 35 prosperous years.

Upon gaining and understanding of Islamic government Toure decided to construct his administration according to its principles, although the Songhai monarchy itself rested on a traditional African concept of divine kingship. To ensure the defense of his realm, Askia Muhammad first established a fill-time professionals army. But the empire's true strength lay in a social structure that spelled out everyone's duties. And with a standing army guarding its borders, the empires farmers, merchants, fishermen, livestock breeders, and artisans could concentrate on being productive in their vocations. Even the griots- members of a hereditary caste of storytellers who preserved the people's history by passing orally from generation to generation- had a responsibility in imperial society beyond their traditional role. The griots were expected to weave glorious tales about the empire's past military exploits to boost the morale of the Songhai soldiers before battle and in the heat of combat. Slaves occupied the lowest rung of society, but their servitude took an African form in which race we irrelevant and bondsmen were no less human than other workers, Slaves were not simply units of property but could rise on the basis of their service and had the security of knowing that their children could not be sold away from them.

His death triggered cycles of dynastic infighting. Weakened by internal dissension, the empire proved easy pickings for a small Moroccan army that ventured across the Sahara in 1591.

 

  • HARLEM, AS WE KNOW IT, WAS AN ACCIDENT

Harlem, in New York City, known as the mecca of Black culture in the United States was originally populated by Whites and was always planned to be for Whites.

The original Harlem was
a Dutch settlement founded in 1658 and it was originally known as "Nieuw Haarlem." (The "old" Harlem was in Holland.) Later, when the British took over Manhattan, it was known as the "Village of Haarlem." Soon afterwards the spelling changed to today's "Harlem."

At the turn of the 19th century, Harlem was still a small village that was considered to be a long, inconvenient   distance from the heart of Manhattan (New York). At that time there were no subways, the automobile was a new invention and very few people possessed one. Also, Manhattan was not heavily populated above the streets numbered in the sixties.

In the early twentieth century, realtors noticed the borough of  Manhattan was expanding northward.


That direction was the only geographic way the borough could expand due to the Hudson River on the west side and the East and Harlem Rivers on the east side. To accommodate the expected population boom, the realtors built many apartments. What they did not realize was that many Whites were reluctant to move that far north of the many jobs in what is
now lower and midtown Manhattan.


Meanwhile, the city's Black residents were steadily being pushed northward. Whites, through violence and intimidation, forced the northward migration of Blacks from lower Manhattan, to the midtown area that came to be known as Hell's Kitchen (what is now the streets from the high 30s to the 40s) to the area in the 60s.

The police and other authorities knew about the many battles and confrontations, but they did nothing.

Many Blacks, discovering that there was housing available in "faraway" Harlem that was also separate from hostile Whites, willingly moved there. Although Harlem was all-White and the White residents did not welcome Blacks, their hostility was not as physically threatening as it was downtown.

The realtors initially did not want to rent to Blacks. Yet if they did not, they knew they would lose their investments. Ironically, they were financially better off by not renting to Whites. Harper's Weekly described the situation in December of 1900: "Property is not rented to negroes in New York until white people will no longer have it. Then rents are put up thirty to fifty percent." (This Was Harlem by Jervis Anderson).

Although the doors to Harlem were opening to Blacks, the village still had a sizeable White population and could be accurately described as "Blacks in a sea of Whites." That began to change around 1920 when Black folk from the entire United States and the Caribbean migrated there. (East Harlem was predominantly Italian for decades after the 1920s).

Thus, Harlem became synonymous with many constructive things to Blacks, one of them being the "place where Blacks could live in peace among other Blacks."

  • AT ONE TIME THE KU KLUX KLAN was pursued as an outlaw group in the South. In 1871, during Reconstruction, Klan members were pursued, arrested, and jailed. This thrust came from the Federal government and it was not popular among Southerners. It was seen as another example of "Yankee meddling" and it was particularly hated because it told the former slaveholders how they should treat the former slaves. White doctors, lawyers, ministers and college professors, were arrested and jailed in the anti-Klan campaign. Of the 930 indicted in Mississippi, 243 were tried and found guilty. Some 1180 were indicted in South Carolina and 1849 were indicted in North Carolina.

  • EVERY MEANS WAS TRIED TO OBTAIN FREEDOM. In 1773, Massachusetts slaves petitioned the state legislature for freedom. The appeal was eloquently worded, and it resulted in a bill being drawn up and passed by the state  legislature. The governor withheld approval, however, and the measure never became law.

  • SHORTLY AFTER the trans-Atlantic Slave trade was declared illegal (May 15, 1820), a slave ship was captured. The capture occurred  on June 29, 1820 nineteen years before the "Amistad" incident. 283 African slaves (two dead and 281 were in chains) were aboard a slave vessel named "The Antelope", when they were recaptured by the United States Treasury cutter "Dallas", under the command of John Jackson. The seizure occurred between Amelia Island and the Florida Coast. After about 2,576 days of captivity and legal battle in the United States, 120 Africans died, 2 were missing, 39 were enslaved in the United States (the 39 included 36 men, one woman, and two boys), and 120 Africans of the Antelope, (there were 22 additional recaptured Africans that were sent with this group, bringing the number to 142), were released from custody by the United States Supreme Court, and sent to Liberia on July 18, 1827. (from Black Facts)

  • ALTHOUGH THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION was issued in 1863, slavery continued in Texas until June 19, 1865, when word reached Galveston, Texas that all slaves in Texas were free. One third of the people in Texas were slaves at that time. Juneteenth was celebrated annually with picnics and barbecues at public emancipation grounds, some of which are used to this day. Juneteenth became a legal state holiday in 1980.


 

  • ABRAM PETROVICH HANNIBAL (1697-1781) WAS A RUSSIAN SOLDIER AND GENERAL.

Abram Hannibal was born in Lagano, Ethiopia in 1697, the son of the reigning prince. At the age of eight he was captured and taken to Turkey, where he was once again kidnapped and taken to Moscow. He was given to the Czar, Peter the Great. Peter grew fond of him because of his intelligence. For ten years Hannibal went everywhere with Peter.

Hannibal completed his early schooling in 1716. He had a natural gift for mathematics and engineering. With his skill he helped to construct the naval port and fortress town of Kronstadt, which played an important role in the history of Russia. The Czar sent Abram to Paris to study engineering.

He stayed in France for six years. During that time he joined the French Army as a "commander," taking part in the Spanish war of the Czar’s Guard as an Engineer Lieutenant.

Peter died in 1725 and immediately Hannibal was banished to Siberia. There he built the fortress of Selenchinsk. He escaped from Siberia but was recaptured and returned to exile. In 1741 a new ruler came to power and Hannibal was restored to honor in the army. He quickly rose to the rank of General.

Hannibal's skill and intelligence added many contributions to Russia. He was commissioned to fix the boundary line between Russia and Sweden, and he was also appointed a member of the inspection staff of the forts of Russia. But his greatest  achievement was his appointment as Commandant of the city of Reval, and as a Major in the Tomesk garrison.

Abram Hannibal was also the great-grandfather of Alexander Pushkin, Russia’s greatest poet.

  • ROBERT SMALLS was born a slave in 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina, a town by the sea. When the civil War broke out Smalls was twenty-three years old. His master allowed him to work as a stevedore on the Confederate ship The Planter, which was one of the Confederate navy's fastest and most valuable ships.

Smalls noticed that the officers, all of whom were White, would often spend the night ashore. He devised a plan that he shared with other crewmen: On an evening when the crew was left alone on the ship, they would lift anchor, sail for Charleston Harbor, and turn the vessel over to the Union navy.

May 13, 1862 was the day they chose to carry out the plan. Smalls smuggled his family on board and The Planter sailed to freedom.

Smalls received high praise and a large reward for his deed. The following year he was made captain of The Planter and placed in command for the rest of the war. After the war, he served in the south Carolina legislature and became a major general in the state militia. From 1876 to 1886 he served three terms in the United states House of Representatives. White Southern racists managed to have him jailed for "corruption," but his supporters reelected to the house. Smalls helped create the marine base art Parris Island, where thousands of Americans who served in the armed forces were trained.

Smalls died in 1916 at the age of seventy-six.

 

  • What is the origin of the word "Africa?"

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—better known as UNESCO—during the time of the Roman empire, the term became accepted as a replacement for the word "Libya" which meant the land of the Lebu or Lubins in Genesis.

Geographically, Libya meant only the north coast of the continent and at first, so did Africa. By the end of the first century A.D., Africa came to mean the entire continent. The etymology, the origin of the term Africa is not so precisely agreed upon and, according to UNESCO, its origin is credited to one of seven theories:

The Afarak, also known as the Aourigha, were a Berber people who lived south of Carthage. The terms Afarik or Africa were used to denote the land of the Afarak.

Some believe that the word comes from from the Latin adjective aprica which means sunny or the Greek aprike, which means free from cold.

The Phoenician root faraqua, which suggests a separation or in other words, diaspora. The same root is found in some African languages, like Bambara.

In Sanskrit and Hindu, the root Apara or Africa denotes that which, in geographical terms comes "after," or in other words the west. From the geographical position of India, the Asian country from which the Hindus originated, Africa is the western continent.

Another school of thought states that the word Africa comes from two Phoenician terms, one of which means an ear of corn, which was a symbol of fertility in that region, and the other Pharikia, which means land of the fruit.

A historical tradition states that a Yeminiter chief named Africus invaded north Africa in the second millennium before our era and founded a town called
Afrikyah. Some say it is more likely that the Arabic term Ifriqiya is the Arabic translation of the word "Africa."

Another theory states that Afer was a grandson of Abraham and a companion of Hercules.

  • THE PUNIC WARS between Carthage and Rome were the most decisive in world history, for they determined the overt cultural orientation for the Western World.

There were three Punic Wars. If Carthage had won the last two, the entire history of the western world would have had an obvious African, rather than European base.

The First Punic War occurred from 264 to 241 BC. Hamilcar Barca headed the Carthaginian forces and although he was not decisively defeated, Carthage lost control of Sicily to Rome.

The Second Punic War, 219-201 BC, saw Hamilcar Barca's son, Hannibal, head the Carthaginian forces. Hannibal eventually lost and as a result Carthage lost its western European dominance and Rome became the most powerful force west of China.

In the Third Punic War, 149-146 BC, Rome blockaded Carthage and destroyed the city. 

If the Carthaginians had won the Punic Wars, it is interesting to conjecture how they would have fared fighting the Germanic tribes from the east that eventually overtook Rome. The influence of Carthage, whatever the outcome, would have been as widespread and long lasting as Rome's. Thus, today's world and its attitudes would be an entirely different place, just how much so can only be imagined.

  • THE STATUE OF LIBERTY WAS SUPPOSED TO BE BLACK. The original model presented to the United States from France was a Black woman with broken chains at her feet and broken chains in her left arm. The American Committee on the Statue of Liberty in New York City, to which the model was presented, rejected it. They wanted the chains downplayed and the features made more "classical" rather than African. Thus, the features were changed, the chains eliminated, the left hand placed around a book, and the result was the statue we have today.

A Black woman with chains was chosen for the original model because the sculptor, Frederic August Bartholdi, agreed with the wishes and abolitionist sentiments of Edouard Rene Lefebre who was an internationally renowned writer. The broken chains represented the ending of slavery, something that Lefebre and many other French abolitionists said was necessary if the United States was ever going to fulfill its potential to be a great democracy. The Black female represented the African motherland and those who had been enslaved. (Schomburg Museum of Black Culture in Harlem, New York, file on the statue of Liberty; The Journey of the Songhai People by Robinson, Battle, and Robinson; The Statue of Liberty by Marvin Trachtenburg)

  • IN 1644, 11 BLACKS RECEIVED large grants of land on a swamp on the edge of the New Amsterdam settlement. This area, which is known today as Greenwich Village and Washington Square, was an essentially Black settlement for some two centuries. (Ebony Magazine, February, 1966. The Untold Story of the Black Entrepreneur)

  • SAMUEL FRAUNCES came to New York in the pre-Revolutionary period and became a leading caterer and restaurant owner. In 1762 he paid 2000 pounds for the De Lancer Mansion on the corner of Broad and Pearl streets and opened a tavern. Before long, Fraunces' Tavern was the social center of the city. It was here in 1768 that the New York Chamber of Commerce was organized. It was here in 1774 that the Sons of Liberty planned a New York "Tea Party." It was here that George Washington bade farewell to his officers at the end of the Revolutionary War. (Ebony Magazine, February, 1966. The Untold Story of the Black Entrepreneur)