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African American Biographies
Every Tub Must Sit on Its Own Bottom: The Philosophy and Politics of Zora Neale Hurston

1995, by Deborah G. Plant, © 1995 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Used by permission of the University of Illinois Press. Used by permission of the author and publisher. May not be presented in any form elsewhere without permission from copyright holders.

Introduction: The Reclamation of an Intellectual Life

With four published novels, two collections of folklore, a collection of short stories, numerous essays and journal articles, and several musical and dramatic productions, Zora Neale Hurston was one of the most industrious and prolific writers of her day. Her achievement can be measured against her ability to survive engulfing poverty and to resist stereotypical images of Black womanhood. It can also be measured in relation to her determination for self-empowerment. Hurston’s spirit of resistance is characteristic of women of Africa and the African diaspora who continually struggle against “racial,” sexual, economic, and cultural domination. Because of her ability to negotiate adversity and succeed on her own terms, Zora Neale Hurston stands as a model of resistance. MORE

The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough: An American Journey from Slavery to Scholarship

© 2005, Edited and with an Introduction by Michele Valerie Ronnick, Foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. African American Life Series, Wayne State University Press. Used by permission of the author and publisher. May not be presented in any form elsewhere without permission from copyright holders.

This is a study in transgression and transcendence. It is the self-portrait of a black man born in slavery who broke through a nexus of biased cultural assumption to reach the self-actuated state of full personhood. It is the story of a man who experienced his “first” liberation through the cultivation of his own intellect at a time when education for members of his race was interdicted by law. And finally, it is a blow-by-blow account of his heroic struggle to rise above seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to stand upright in the formal dress of civilized life with his humanity authenticated. MORE

The Blind African Slave or Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffrey Brace, As Told to Benjamin F. Prentiss, Esq.

© 2004, Edited and with an introduction by Kari J. Winter. University of Wisconsin Press. Used by permission of the author and publisher. May not be presented in any form elsewhere without permission from copyright holders.

In 1810 in St. Albans, Vermont, a small town near the Canadian border, a narrative of slavery was published by an obscure printer. Entitled The Blind African Slave or Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffrey Brace, it was greeted with no fanfare, and it has remained for nearly two hundred years a faint spectre in our cultural memory.

Boyrereau Brinch/Jeffrey Brace was captured around 1758 during a festive afternoon when he and thirteen of his friends went swimming in a river. When they got out of the water, they were surrounded by white men with dogs who succeeded in capturing eleven of them. One moment he and his friends were engaged in a "delightful sport;" moments later they were bound, gagged, and "fastened down in the boat," surrounded by "a horrid stench." MORE

Solomon Carter Fuller: Where My Caravan Has Rested

© 2005 by Mary Kaplan. University Press of America. Used by permission of the author and publisher. May not be presented in any form elsewhere without permission from copyright holders.

Can a people … live and develop over three hundred years by reacting? Are American Negroes simply the creation of white men, or have they at least helped to create themselves out of what they have found around them? - Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act

As the slender young man stepped off the train in Munich, he was about to begin what was to become an important journey in his pursuit of knowledge that would significantly influence his medical research and practice in the years to come. A new psychiatric clinic was opening at the University of Munich under the direction of Dr. Emil Kraeplin, noted for his revolutionary ideas in the classification of mental illness and the treatment of psychiatric patients. Dr. Simon Carter Fuller had traveled to Germany to study under Kraeplin and to take courses in pathology for the purpose of improving his skills in analyzing brain tissue as it related to mental illness.

Fuller was one of the estimated 15,000 Americans who traveled to Europe between 1870 and 1914 for the purpose of advanced medical education and training. Much of the medical knowledge that American physicians would bring back to the United States was based on experimental science and would eventually lead to a change in American medical practice from that of lay people and unqualified healers to professional physicians. This freedom of movement allowing students to travel from university to university and from one country to another in pursuit of an education would come to a halt in 1914 as Europe began to mobilize for an impending war. MORE

Preview These Recommended Titles at Google Book Search:

Prince Among Slaves: The True Story of an African Prince Sold Into Slavery in the American South by Terry Alford

Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography by James L. Conyers

The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero's Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings,... by Medgar Wiley Evers, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Manning Marable

Oprah Winfrey: A Biography by Helen S. Garson

Langston Hughes: A Biography by Laurie F. Leach

This Far by Faith: Readings in African-American Women's Religious Biography by Judith Weisenfeld, Richard Newman

Read Excerpts from These Recommended Titles at

Portraits of African American Heroes by Tonya Bolden, Ansel Pitcairin (Illustrator)

African-American Life on the Southern Hunting Plantation (Voices of America: Georgia) by Titus Brown, James Hadley

African American Military Heroes (Black Stars) by Jim Haskins

Black Stars: African American Women Scientists and Inventors by Otha Richard Sullivan, Jim Haskins (Editor)

African Americans at Mars Bluff, South Carolina by Amelia Wallace Vernon

Explore. Discover. Learn. Teach.

Search Africana Heritage for Related Content


Explore online biographies at the Afro-American Almanac

Explore Biographies of Notable African Americans from

Explore Black History Biographies from Thomson-Gale Free Resources

Explore Celebrating Black History from


Discover Biographies of African American Women Writers of the 19th Century from the Digital Schomburg

Discover African American Quotations from


Read the full text of The Narrative of Sojourner Truth from the Digital Schomburg


Activities: The online activities, from Thomson Gale's Black History Month Resource Book, can make Black History Month more meaningful. The activities are arranged in general age catagories, but many of them can be used for all age groups.

View the Lesson Plans at "Been Here So Long:" Selections from the WPA Slave Narratives

Copyright 2004 The University of South Florida and The Africana Heritage Project. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. For more information, contact the Africana Heritage Project via e-mail.