JOSINA MUTEMBA MACHEL – Freedom fighter for the Liberation of Mozambique.

Today is the birthday of JOSINA MUTEMBA MACHEL – Freedom fighter for the Liberation of Mozambique. Born 10th August 1945.

Josina Mutemba began fighting for the Liberation of Africans in Mozambique as a teenager. She comes from a family of anticolonialists some of who were assassinated for there activities.  At age 15 she was already joining organisations of her peers against Portuguese colonialism. In her late teens she fled Mozambique for Tanzania to joined the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO).
In FRELIMO she became a member of the women’s wing and underwent military training. She helped pioneer the combination of Military victory & social welfare among the women’s branch. In other words, not only were they winning military battles,  they began setting up child care centres & health clinics in the areas they liberated even as the Liberation war continued. 
Her experiences lead her to become and ideological proponent for the role of women in all aspects of African revolutionary activity. A fact which inspired the man who would become her husband and later President of Revolutionary Mozambique – Samora Machel. 
Josina Machel died in 1971 at the age of 25 years old. Even with a diagnosis of liver cancer she kept on working. Mozambique would not see independence and revolutionary government til 1975, and it was women such as Josina Mutemba Machel who helped make that happen.
Today she stands as a stalwart of African revolutionary theory, practice & victory.

By Basu Shakara

The father of American Ninjitsu


The Father of American Ninjitsu; the first American Ninja. Professor Ronald Duncan successfully demonstrated Ninjitsu in the 1960s, although receiving acknowledgement from the Japanese government, he was intentionally omitted from Black Belt magazine for several years.

Jesús Colón -Little things are big

This a short story by a writer called Jesús Colón (1901–1974) An Afro-puertorican writer known as the father of Nuyorican Movement.

I’ve been thinking; you know, sometimes one thing happens to change your life, how you look at things, how you look at yourself. I remember one particular event. It was when? 1955 or ’56…a long time ago. Anyway, I had been working at night. I wrote for the newspaper and, you know, we had deadlines. It was late after midnight on the night before Memorial Day. I had to catch the train back to Brooklyn; the West side IRT. This lady got on to the subway at 34th and Penn Station, a nice looking white lady in her early twenties. Somehow she managed to push herself in with a baby on her right arm and a big suitcase in her left hand. Two children, a boy and a girl about three and five years old trailed after her.

Anyway, at Nevins Street I saw her preparing to get off at the next station, Atlantic Avenue. That’s where I was getting off too. It was going to be a problem for her to get off; two small children, a baby in her arm, and a suitcase in her hand. And there I was also preparing to get off at Atlantic Avenue. I couldn’t help but imagine the steep, long concrete stairs going down to the Long Island Railroad and up to the street. Should I offer my help? Should I take care of the girl and the boy, take them by their hands until they reach the end of that steep long concrete stairs?

Courtesy is important to us Puerto Ricans. And here I was, hours past midnight, and the white lady with the baby in her arm, a suitcase and two white children badly needing someone to help her. 

I remember thinking; I’m a *Negro and a Puerto Rican. Suppose I approach this white lady in this deserted subway station late at night? What would she say? What would be the first reaction of this white American woman? Would she say: ‘Yes, of course you may help me,’ or would she think I was trying to get too familiar or would she think worse? What do I do if she screamed when I went to offer my help? I hesitated. And then I pushed by her like I saw nothing as if I were insensitive to her needs. I was like a rude animal walking on two legs just moving on, half running along the long the subway platform, leaving the children and the suitcase and the woman with the baby in her arms. I ran up the steps of that long concrete stairs in twos and when I reached the street, the cold air slapped my warm face.

Perhaps the lady was not prejudiced after all. If you were not that prejudiced, I failed you, dear lady. If you were not that prejudiced I failed you; I failed you too, children. I failed myself. I buried my courtesy early on Memorial Day morning. 

So, here is the promise I made to myself back then: if I am ever faced with an occasion like that again, I am going to offer my help regardless of how the offer is going to be received. Then I will have my courtesy with me again.”


Antonio “The Bronze Titan” Maceo


Antonio Maceo to me, is simply the father of Cuba and one of the greatest men the Americas has ever produced,  sounds like a wild statement right?  Well after reading this I’m sure you’ll be convinced.

Antonio Maceo was a legendary black general who earned the name “Bronze Titan” because of his heroism, unshakable willpower that guided his actions in life, and his daring military campaigns, it also made reference to his natural skin colour, dark like the skin of other glorious heroes of equally humble backgrounds, like Guillermo Moncada and Quintin Banderas (and others that are less renowned).

In the second half of the 19th century, Cuba and Puerto Rico were the last Spanish colonies in America, and Cuba was the largest sugar producer in the world. All of the sugar production was based on slave labour.

On October 10, 1868, the Cubans declared “enough was enough” and started a rebellion in Yara Town, which sparked the 10-Year War. Two weeks after the uprising, Mariana Grajales Cuello, Antonio Maceo’s mother, brought together her husband and 13 children and asked them to kneel in front of the image of Jesus Christ and swear to struggle until Cuba was independent or to die trying.

Maceo’s mother, Mariana Grajales Cuello, came out of the maroon tradition anchored in the Guantánamo region of the island.

An important aspect of the historical significance of the son of Marcos Maceo and Mariana Grajales – and of his particular charisma – is, however, his background. Antonio was the member of a black family that lived in Cuba’s eastern region. We shouldn’t forget that the first war of independence was begun and led, for the most part, by people of certain social standing – estate owners, lawyers and others who were mostly white. Their sacrifice is doubtless worthy of respect, even in the case of those who took up arms without first freeing their slaves. It is also undeniable, however, that a man like Maceo had to be truly exceptional to stand out in this context.”

Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno

There were few blacks and mulattoes who became generals in the 10-year War, yet Maceo rose quickly in the ranks of the Mambi Army (the name is of Congo origin) from Colonel to Brigadier General and by 1877 he had become Major General, and the most successful of Cuba’s generals, feared by the Spaniards and beloved by the Cubans.

In 1878 the revolution began to decline rapidly throughout the island, due to the regional divisions among Cubans, the concern of the white conservative sector of the revolution with the growing influence of black and mulatto officers, the inability to bring the war westward to the largest sugar plantation areas and also because of the astute policy of Spanish Captain, General Martinez Campos.

The Cuban Provisional Government in Arms agreed to stop the war and signed the Zanjon Peace Treaty, which gave amnesty to the rebel fighters and freedom to the slaves who were fighting on both sides.

Antonio Maceo with his brothers and a group of officers agreed to meet with Martinez Campos in Mangos de Baragua but refused to stop the war without independence and the abolition of slavery. They called it a peace without honour. This meeting was later called The Baragua Protest.

Maceo and his army continued the war, but soon it became apparent that they were outnumbered. To save Maceo’s life, the Provisional Government sent him to Jamaica, where he lived with his mother, his family and some of the officers that had joined him in the protest.

In 1879-1880, the Cubans tried to resume the war;  but it gained the name ‘The Small War’, because it lasted only a few months. The project failed. One of the reasons for the failure was due to the Spanish Government’s move to label it a racial war, reminiscent of the Haitian Revolution which gives a small indication of the amount of blacks and mulattoes were fighting. Once the organisers heard this, fearing that the black and mulato soliders would turn on them removed General Antonio Maceo from the expedition and left him in exile in Jamaica, the patriots that were waiting for their leader soon lost confidence.

Antonio Maceo stayed in Jamaica where he had the only son that survived him, in a passionate romance with the beautiful and mysterious Amelia Marriat, but after attempts by the Spanish government to kill him on several occasions he also lived in Costa Rica, Panama and The Dominican Republic, among other territories.

Whilst in exile, together with the great Cuban patriot and intellectual Jose Marti, General Maximo Gomez and other Cubans he organised the plan for the new rebellion. Maceo proposed and it was agreed that Maximo Gomez was to be the Chief of the Cuban Independence Army, and Maceo was appointed second in command.The Spanish Government fearing Maceo’s strong influence exerted pressure on different Governments in the regions to prevent his return to Cuba’s shores.

On April 1895 Maceo finally landed in Cuba. Within one month of his arrival, thousands of men had joined him and the War of Independence (1895-1898) was resumed. Gomez and Marti landed in May 1895 and Marti sadly died in combat almost three weeks after.

Maceo and Gomez then executed one of the greatest feats in military history. The invasion from East to West, 1776 kilometres in 78 days, leading around 3,000 Cuban patriots against an army of 200,000 men with the latest weaponry and more than 42 Spanish generals. Most of the freedom fighters were from the East and had never been in the West, this was not guerrilla warfare, this was military tactics, strategy and courage.

After going to the most western point and raising the Cuban flag, Maceo fought during months with little more than 1,000 men against 70,000 Spanish soldiers in Pinar del Rio, the narrowest province of Cuba. Maceo’s army demonstrated exemplary behavior to fighters and nonfighters alike, but this was especially so in dealing with women and children in towns, villages and hamlets.

The following quotes underscore the magnitude of who Maceo was. He told Anselmo Valdés on July 6, 1884: “When Cuba is free and has a constitutional government, I shall request that we fight for the independence of Puerto Rico also. I would not care to put up my sword, leaving that portion of America in slavery.”

Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno

Sadly Maceo died on Dec 7th 1896 when two bullets struck him; these were his 25th and 26th wounds in combat,  after what some records estimate 500 to 600 battles, he was on his way to meet General Gomez on his request, to deal with a political crisis in the leadership of the movement. He travelled with only his personal escort in order to avoid the Spaniards, he was at the time still recovering from wounds he had received in combat and was 53 years old.

Upon learning of Antonio’s death on the battlefield Mariana Grajales urged her youngest son “to hurry up and grow up quickly, because Cuba needs you.

Antonio Maceo, remains a true icon for Cuban people, and no doubt inspired the likes of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Cuban writer Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno when writing for “The Havana Times” summed it up perfectly when he said.

The countless heroic examples — generously offered by Maceo — have not only helped to inspire the success of the Revolution against both Spanish and Yankee imperialism, but have also allowed Cuba to play such a central role in the liberation of Angola, Namibia and South Africa, leading to the freeing of Nelson Mandela in 1990″

Toyin Ashiru—the-greatest-Cuban-war-general_13271565

The Edmonson Sisters


Emily (1835–1895) and Mary (1832–1853) Edmonson were the daughters of Paul and Amelia Edmonson, a free black man and an enslaved woman. Born in Montgomery County, they were two of fourteen children, all born into slavery. Law common to all slave states decreed that the children of a slave inherited their mother’s legal status. Their father, who was set free after his owner died, purchased land in the Norbeck area of Montgomery County. Their mother was allowed to live with her husband but continued to work for her legal owner. The couple’s children began work early in age as servants, laborers and skilled workers. Like her elder sister Mary, Emily was sent to work as a servant in one of Washington’s elite private homes.

When on April 15, 1848, the vessel Pearl docked on the Washington wharf, Emily and Mary and four other brothers joined a group of slaves in an attempt to reach the vessel and escape slavery as it headed north. Seventy-seven slaves made their way on the Pearl, which was supposed to travel from the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay to the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, finally reaching freedom. Pearl, with all the fugitives hidden among boxes, began its way down the Potomac. The captain of a passing steamer reported a suspicious vessel when he reached Washington, prompting pursuit down the river. As the Pearl was docked in a creek waiting for a storm to pass, it was seized by well-armed men. The Pearl was towed back to Washington, where an angry crowd was waiting. The Pearl’s two white captains had to be taken into safety as slave traders and other individuals attacked them. The fugitives were taken to the D.C. jail. It is said that when somebody from the crowd asked the girls if they were ashamed for what they had done, Emily replied proudly that they would do exactly the same thing all over again. Three days of riots and disturbances followed, while new slave traders arrived in D.C. to purchase the fugitives from their furious owners.

Despite Paul Edmonson’s desperate efforts to delay the sale of his children so that he could raise money to purchase their freedom, Alexandria’s slave trader partners Bruin & Hill bought the six Edmonson siblings. They were taken to New Orleans by boat under inhumane conditions. New Orleans was a market well known for trading young girls as sex slaves or “fancy girls.” Paul Edmonson was able to obtain donations from Methodist ministers to gain the freedom of one son. In New Orleans, Emily and Mary, as the rest of their siblings, was forced to stay for days in an open porch facing the street waiting for buyers. They were forced to open their mouths to show their teeth, handled brusquely, and exposed to obscene comments. When yellow fever erupted in New Orleans, the slave traders transferred unsold slaves back to Alexandria, Emily and Mary Edmonson among them, as a measure to protect their investments. Their two brothers remained in New Orleans where their eldest brother later purchased the young men’s freedom.

Back in Alexandria, the sisters spent the days washing, ironing and sewing by day and being locked up at night. Slave owners Bruin & Hill agreed to sell the sisters for $2,250. Paul Edmonson continued his campaign to free Mary and Emily. Armed with letters from Washington supporters, he went to the New York offices of the Anti-Slavery Society, where he was sent to the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, a young Congregationalist preacher who had just arrived in Brooklyn. Beecher’s church members raised the necessary funds to purchase the girls’ freedom. Accompanied by William Chaplin, one of the individuals responsible for the Pearl escape attempt, Beecher went to Washington to arrange the transaction.

Emily, with her sister Mary, was liberated on November 4, 1848. Celebrations took place in her sister’s house in Washington, where all the family gathered. After obtaining their freedom, the Brooklyn church continued to contribute money to send the sisters to school. They were able to enroll in the interracial New York Central College in Cortland, New York. During this period, they did cleaning services to support themselves. While studying, the sisters traveled in the state of New York to participate in anti-slavery rallies. Both sisters attended the protest convention in Cazenovia during the summer of 1850 to demonstrate against the Fugitive Slave Act, soon to be passed by Congress. Under this act, slave owners had unlimited powers to arrest fugitive slaves in the North. The convention, guided by Frederick Douglass’ leadership, declared all slaves to be prisoners of war and warned the nation of an unavoidable insurrection of slaves unless they were emancipated.

In 1853, Emily and Mary Edmonson attended the Young Ladies Preparatory School at Oberlin College in Ohio through the support of Rev. Beecher and his sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Six months after arriving at Oberlin, Mary Edmonson died of tuberculosis. Eighteen-year-old Emily returned to Washington with her father, where she enrolled in the Normal School for Colored Girls, a school located near the current Dupont Circle that trained young African-American women to become teachers. For protection, the Edmonson family moved to a cabin on the grounds, while Emily and Myrtilla Miner, the white founder of the school learned to shoot. The school became part of the D.C. Teachers College, incorporated in 1976 into the University of the District of Columbia. In 1860, Emily Edmonson married Larkin Johnson. They returned to the Sandy Spring area and lived there for twelve years before moving to Anacostia, where they purchased land and became founding members of the Hillsdale community in Anacostia. At least one of their children was born in Montgomery County.

Emily Edmonson maintained her relationship with Douglass, who also lived in Anacostia. Both continued working in the abolitionist movement. Even after slavery was abolished by an act of Congress in 1862, their relationship continued. One of Emily’s granddaughters observed that they were like “brother and sister.” Emily Edmonson died at her home on September 15, 1895.

Emily Edmonson’s story, although reported extensively in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s documentary A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin and John H. Paynter’s Fugitives of the Pearl, has been largely unknown until it was reported by Mary Kay Ricks in the February 17, 2002 issue of The Washington Post Magazine.

Text comes from, ‘Montgomery County Commission for Women Counseling & Career Center’

‪#‎BHMD‬ ‪#‎blackhistoryminidocs‬ @blackhistoryMD

Eartha Kitt: Actress, Singer, Dancer, Comedian, and Civil Rights Activist



Young Eartha



Eartha KittCOLLAGE

Born: Eartha Mae Keith on January 17, 1927 in the small town of North, in Orangeburg County, South Carolina

Parents: Cherokee Indian/African Descent (mother) Unknown white man (father)


Spouse(s): John William McDonald (married June 6, 1960, divorced 1965)

Eartha and HusbandEartha and Husband, William

Children: Kitt McDonald-Shapiro

Eartha and Daughter, KittEartha and Daughter, Kitt

Grandchildren: John Shapiro and Rachael Shapiro

Education: High School of Performing Arts, New York City, New York

Occupation: Actress, singer, cabaret star, dancer, stand-up comedienne, civil rights activist, voice artist and writer

Accomplishments, Achievements, and Contributions:

From  Kitt became a rising star with her appearance in the Broadway review New Faces of 1952. In the production, she sang “Monotonous.” Her performance helped launch her music career with the release of her first album in 1954. The recording featured such signature songs as “I…

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Una Maud Victoria Marson (1905-1965)

Black Liberation Love of N Unity

Una Marson was a pioneer Jamaican feminist, poet, playwright and social activist. A black Jamaican woman, from the middle class and of strict Baptist upbringing, Marson emigrated to work in London in 1932, producing plays, poems and programmes for the BBC during World War II. She was the epitome of a black political artist.

Una Marson was born February 6, 1905 in Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth. After leaving school, Marson worked as a volunteer social worker. In 1926, she got a job as assistant editor for the Jamaican political journal, Jamaica Critic. As the daughter of a middle‐class Baptist minister, Marson’s intellectual development took place within the context of a religious home and the conservative and colonial Hampton high school, where she had won a scholarship place. When Marson left school in 1922, she directed her studies at commerce and secretarial work, and her decision to work with the Salvation…

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Alonso de Illescas


In 1997, the National Congress of Ecuador declared October 2, the national day of Black Ecuadorians giving formal recognition to Alonso de Illescas (pronounced O-lone-zo Day EE-yes-cahs) a native of Senegal, West Africa.

At the age of about 10 years, he was captured by slave traders and taken as a slave to Spain. He was baptized and confirmed in Seville with the name of Enrique. He later took the name of his master, the merchant Alonso de Illescas.

He lived in Seville for seventeen years before he was sent to the Caribbean to assist his owners. He first spent time on the island of Santo Domingo where his owners established a merchant enterprise which included clothing, cured meats, swords, horses, olive oil, wine, and the selling of Africans

In contrast to the lives of other Africans who were brought to the Americas as slaves, Illescas more than likely never worked on a sugar plantation or in a rice field. Instead, he was a trusted personal servant expected to perform many duties for his owners and probably served as elder Illescas’ personal servant during his youth in Seville. From the Indies he traveled to Panama and then to Peru, the silver-producing capital of the early Spanish Empire. Records indicate that he and Alvaro, one of his owners, were active in Peru by 1551.[5] In 1553, he along with twenty-three “Guinea slaves” departed the port of Panama on the southbound journey to Lima, Peru. The journey proved to be typical in that the ship’s pilot had to contend with north and westerly Pacific Ocean currents and therefore decided to seek harbor in San Mateo Bay on the Esmeraldas coast. In spite of this, the ship ran aground inside the bay and stranded the crew, passengers, and slaves onshore. They were forced to travel along ragged shorelines to reach the nearest settlement, Puerto Viejo. In the course of the journey, Illescas and the other slaves decided to seize the moment to head into dense forest and claim their freedom.

Illescas, along with his fellow escapees, struggled to survive at first, making alliances with and attacks against native communities. The first leader of the group was an African named Antón.

Anton later died and Illescas eventually rose to a position of leadership by way of alliances that he struck with the local Nigua indigenous communities. He officially became the leader of his Maroon community in the late 1560s. Throughout the rest of the sixteenth century under his leadership, the community came to include Amerindians and even a few Europeans.

Allonso was a skilled negotiator and knew how to win the friendship of the Indians, making appropriate partnerships, particularly with the tribe of the chiggers. An account by Miguel Cabello de Balboa has it that Alonso was once invited to a great feast with the powerful Indian chief Chilianduli and his people in the village of Dobe, surprisingly at the end of the party Alonso and the marrons killed 500 Indians, and Alonso de Illescas therefore became the new lord of the people.

For the Indians there was no choice but to agree and accept the newcomers.They therefore supported Alonso and his free blacks in the fight against enemy tribes, especially the dreaded Campaces. As a sign of alliance the Indians awarded their women as a trophy to the black warriors of Allonso to marry, many formed polygamous partnerships, and their offspring at first were referred to as mulattoes by the Spanish and by the 1590s as zambos, giving rise to a new breed of people in South America “the zambo of Esmeraldas.”

Alonso was cunning, brave in war, with his quite literary abilities in Spanish language also quickly learned the local languages. With the Spanish colonizers he maintained a relationship that could define as “hate and love,” in order to preserve their autonomy while leveraging their friendship.

He established his people in the headwaters of Atacames, called San Martin de la Campaces, the place of which was the historic meeting with the priest Miguel Cabello de Balboa, in the month of September 1577.

In the 1570s Illescas’ Maroon community also began trading with Spanish ships that periodically stopped on the Esmeraldas coast.

The region’s remote geography with dense forests and mangroves and the indigenous inhabitants’ (Campazes who lived south of the Bay of San Mateo)[8] prolonged resistance to Spanish rule helped to enable the Maroon community to survive for generations.

Illescas never took bribes, and even rejected the title of governor when many politicians gave up their properties to take on the title of governor of Esmeraldas. Alonso IIlescas trained new leaders starting with his son Alonso Sebastian de Illescas and his grandson Jerónimo (Geronimo) so that they be loving of justice and liberty and keep their territory free of Spanish rule. Although, Esmeraldas was the first province invaded by the Spanish, it was the alliance between Blacks and Indigenous people that kept the Spanish from taking full control.

Near the end of Illescas’ life, he ruled his community with the help of two sons, Sebastián and Antonio There is no historical record of Alonso de Illescas after the 1590s. Therefore, he must have died in the Esmeraldas region at some point between 1587 and 1596. While Illescas did not live long enough to witness a peace agreement with the Real Audiencia of Quito, it was achieved. His son Sebastián obtained the title of Don and was recognized as leader over the Illescas Maroons by 1600. In addition, Sebastián received the sacrament of confirmation by Quito’s bishop in 1600 and he took Alonso as his confirmation name. Illescas’ family ruled Esmeraldas for at least two more generations.

Miguel Cabello de Balboa a Spanish priest openly acknowledged in his letters to the King of Spain that Alonso de Illescas was a man of superior qualities. He wrote to King telling him that it was not so easy to subdue a man who was so well prepared and knew how to defend in all fields.

Toyin Ashiru

For the love of black women and black people- The Story of Lino Guedes

Lino Guedes Pinto was an afro-brazilian poet and journalist born in 1897 in Sao Paulo who wrote articles, stories and poetry about racism in Brazil, his love of black women and the uplifting of the black community.

Son of former slaves he was part of a generation that felt strongly about the barriers that society imposed on black citizens after slavery which affected black people, especially in the labor market where newly arrived Europeans were picked before Black Brazilians for jobs.

As a young man he started his journalism career in the People’s Daily and People’s Mail and continued to work at numerous black newspapers which was an important mechanism, to give black people a voice mobilizing them against the discrimination they faced on a day to day basis.

This subject, as well as love is a subject heavily drawn on in his poems especially in a collection of poems from 1926, that were not published in book that came out after his death. In one of his poems called Ditinha he expresses his love for the black woman which was a theme in many of his poems, like his hero Luis Gama.

Lino Guedes hero Luis Gama

Lino Guedes also was engaged in the elevation of African culture, women and religion and greatly encouraged literacy for black people offering them reading material. He had a strong belief in journalism, literary and education as a means of overcoming adversity, he also championed black people to work and get married and felt through this black people could become good citizens.

His poems heavily used stanzas of six lines. This approach was said to make it more easily understandable for his audience that was largely illiterate and also to keep alive the link with their ancestry focused on orality.

Black people were the main focus in his verses and he didn’t deny the atrocities of slavery and racism, using his poetry and writings to uplift the black race.

Lino Guedes died on March 4, 1951, and three years later a complete edition of his works was published, comprising various literary genres: poetry, short story, novel, essay, biography, and others.

His literary production consists of the following works: Luiz Gama and his literary individuality (1924), Black (1926), The Song of the Black Swan (1927); black Resurrection (1928); Urucungo (1936), The Little Bandeirante, Master Domingos (1937), Black Night Black Colour (1938); Smiles Captivity (1938); Father John Vigil, Ditinha (1938); New Tenant of Heaven, Suncristo (1951).

by Toyin Ashiru