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Biography
Celebrating Black History Month 2014

Black History Month - an annual observance in the several countries for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 i...n the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week. The expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month was first proposed by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of the Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, in February 1970.

Caribbean History Makers
During February, we highlighted the lives of key figures who have contributed to the development of the Caribbean or have made significant contributions in the diaspora
PROFILE 1: Marcus Mosiah Garvey
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17 Aug 1887 - 10 Jun 1940

Born in Jamaica, Marcus Garvey was an orator for the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League.
National Hero of Jamaica

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PROFILE 2: Shirley Anita Chisholm
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30 Nov 1924 - 1 Jan 2005

Born in the United States of Caribbean pararents, Shirley Chisholm was first black US congresswoman (1969), first -party African-American candidate to run for the Democratic nomination for the presidency (1972).

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PROFILE 3: David Augustus Straker
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11 Jul 1842 - 14 Feb 1908

Born in Barbados, David Straker was Principal of St. Mary's School before moving to the United States. In 1890, he successfully argued a civil rights case, Ferguson v. Gies before the Michigan Supreme Court which outlawed separation by race in public places.

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PROFILE 4: Dame Mary Eugenia Charles
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15 May 1919 - 6 Sep 2005

Dame Mary Eugenia Charles, DBE has the distinction of being the first female lawyer in her native land of Dominica and the first female to be elected Prime Minister in the Caribbean.

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PROFILE 5: Sir Arthur Lewis
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23 Jan 1915 - 15 Jun 1991

Sir William Arthur Lewis was a Saint Lucian economist well known for his contributions in the field of economic development. In 1979 he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.

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Mabel Keaton Staupers displays the Mary Mahony Award for distinguished service in nursing in Harlem, 1947.
PROFILE 6: Mabel Keaton Staupers
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27 Feb 1890 - 29 Nov 1989

Born in Barbdos, Mabel Keaton Staupers was a pioneer in the American nursing profession. Faced with racial discrimination after graduating from nursing school, Staupers became an advocate for racial equality in the nursing profession.

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PROFILE 7: Jean Augustine
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born 9 Sep 1937

In 1993, Grenadian-born, Canadian politician Jean Augustine became the first Black woman elected to the Parliament of Canada. An energetic advocate of social justice, she worked as the principal of an elementary school before entering federal politics.

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PROFILE 8: Stokely Carmichael
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29 Jun 1941 - 15 Nov 1998

Stokely Carmichael was a Trinidad born, civil rights leader in the United States. He rose to prominence, first as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced "snick") and later as the "Honorary Prime Minister" of the Black Panther Party.

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PROFILE 9: Pearl Primus
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29 Nov 1919 – 29 Oct 1994

Pearl Eileen Primus was a dancer, choreographer and anthropologist. Primus played an important role in the presentation of African dance to American audiences. She has been called “the grandmother of African-American dance.

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PROFILE 10: Jan Ernst Matzeliger
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15 Sep 1852 - 24 Aug 1889

Jan Ernst Matzeliger was an African-American inventor in the shoe industry. Matzeliger was born in Paramaribo. His father was a Dutch engineer. He was very wealthy and very well educated. His mother was a black Surinamese slave.

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PROFILE 11: Arthur Stanley Wint
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25 May 1920 – 19 Oct 1992

Arthur Stanley Wint was the first Jamaican Olympic gold medalist. He competed in the 1948 London Olympic Games where, not only was he captain of the Jamaican team, but he also won gold in the 400 metres and equalled the then Olympic record time (46.2s)

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PROFILE 12: Joan Armatrading
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born 9 Dec 1950

Joan Anita Barbara Armatrading is a St. Kitts borm British singer, songwriter and guitarist. In a recording career spanning 40 years she has released a total of 18 studio albums, as well as several live albums and compilations. Armatrading is a three-time Grammy Award-nominee.

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PROFILE 13: Edward Wilton Blyden
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3 Aug 1832 – 7 Feb 1912

Blyden was born in St Thomas, Danish West Indies (now known as the U.S. Virgin Islands), to Free Black parents who were of the Igbo tribe from present-day He was an educator, writer, diplomat, and politician primarily in Liberia. He also taught for five years in Sierra Leone, and his writings were influential in both countries.

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PROFILE 14: Janelle Penny Commissiong-Chow
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born 13 Jun 1953

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Janelle migrated to the United States before returning home. After winning the Miss Trinidad and Tobago title, she went on to be crowned Miss Universe 1977 in the Dominican Republic. She was the first woman from the Caribbean and the first woman of African ancestry to be crowned Miss Universe.

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PROFILE 15: Hubert Henry Harrison
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27 Apr 1883 – 17 Dec 1927

Born in St. Croix, Hubert Henry Harrison was a writer, orator, educator, critic, and radical socialist political activist based in Harlem, New York. He was described by as “the father of Harlem radicalism,” “the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time,” and "The Black Socrates".

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PROFILE 16: Mary Jane Seacole
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1805 – 14 May 1881

Mary Jane Seacole was a Jamaican-born woman of Scottish and Creole descent who set up a 'British Hotel' behind the lines during the Crimean War, " and provided succour for wounded servicemen on the battlefield.

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PROFILE 17: Alphonsus Cassell (Mighty Arrow)
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16 Nov 1949 – 15 Sep 2010

Alphonsus Celestine Edmund Cassell (Mighty Arrow), MBE was a calypso and soca musician who performed under the stage name Arrow, and is regarded as the first superstar of soca from Montserrat.

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PROFILE 18: McCartha Sandy-Lewis (Calypso Rose)
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born 27 Apr 1940

Calypso Rose born McCartha Linda Sandy-Lewis, in Bethel, Tobago was the first female to win the Trinidad Road March competition, in 1977. In 1978 she took the title again and also won the Calypso King competition, the first time it had ever been awarded to a female.

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PROFILE 19: Harold Arundel Moody
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8 Oct 1882 – 24 Apr 1947

Harold Arundel Moody was a physician in London who established the League of Coloured Peoples in 1931 with the support of the Quakers.

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PROFILE 20: Baroness Patricia Scotland
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born 9 August 1955

Born in Dominica, Patricia Janet, Baroness Scotland of Asthal is a British barrister, and served in many ministerial positions within the UK Government, most notably as the Attorney General for England and Wales and Advocate General for Northern Ireland.

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PROFILE 21: Lord David Pitt
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3 October 1913 – 18 December 1994

Born in Grenada, David Thomas Pitt, Baron Pitt of Hampstead was a civil rights campaigner and was one of the first persons of African descent to sit in the British House of Lordsand was the longest serving black Parliamentarian, having been granted a life peerage in 1975.

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PROFILE 22: Derek Alton Walcott
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born 23 January 1930

Derek Alton Walcott, OBE OCC is a Saint Lucian poet and playwright. His first published poem, "1944" appeared in The Voice of St. Lucia when he was fourteen years old. He received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. Dr. received the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC) during the first conferment in 1992.

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PROFILE 23: Baroness Valerie Amos of Brondesbury
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born 13 Mar 1954

Born in Guyana, Valerie Ann Amos, Baroness Amos, is the current UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. She previous served as British High Commissioner to Australia; and served as Leader of the House of Lords.

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PROFILE 24: Jean Baptiste Point du Sable
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1745(?) - 28 Aug 1818

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable was the first settler of Chicago. He was also the city's first black resident. As a free black man, Point du Sable is believed to have been born most likely in Haiti sometime before around 1745.

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PROFILE 25: Nola Ishmael
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born 1943

Born in Barbados, Nola Ishmael, OBE, is a qualified nurse and health visitor. She was the first black person to become a director of nursing in London and helped shape policy in the Department of Health.

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PROFILE 26: Jamaica Kincaid
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born 25 May 1949

Jamaica Kincaid, original name Elaine Potter Richardson is an Antiguan born, American writer whose essays, stories, and novels are evocative portrayals of family relationships and her native Antigua.

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PROFILE 27: Maryse Condé
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born 11 Feb 1937

Maryse Condé is a Guadeloupean author of epic fiction, best-known for her historical novel Ségou (1984-85, Segu; The Children of Segu). Condé's multifaceted novels question stereotypical images of literary characters, colonialism, sex and gender.

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PROFILE 28: Caribbean World War Participants
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During the First and Second World Wars, thousands of men and women from the Caribbean were recruited into the British war effort. Hundreds died or were wounded.

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Black History Month Resources
Read article Introduction to Black History Month
Read article West Indian Americans and Black History Month
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