This documentary about the pirate, Black Beard, takes careful pains to explain how the acquisition of the swift & heavily armed slave ship, La Concorde (later re-christened Queen Anne’s Revenge), while en route from Africa to Martinique was pivotal in the transforming the former-privateer into the infamously wealthy scourge of the Seven Seas.
It doesn’t, however, mention what happened to La Concodre’s cargo after it was seized.
- 1750 Crispus Attucks escaped from his slavemaster in Framingham, Massachussets.
- 1919 The Elaine Race Riot occurred in Elaine, Arkansas.
- 1960 Fifteen African nations were admitted to the United Nations.
- 1962 U.S. Marshals escorted James Meredith into the University of Mississippi, sparking riots on the Oxford campus that left two people dead.
- 1966 Botswana (previously known as Bechuanaland) achieved independence from Britain.
- 1986 Edward Perkins was appointed as U.S. ambassador to South Africa, becoming the first African-American to hold that position.
- 1989 The Senegambia Confederation between Senegal and Gambia was dissolved.
- 1991 The military in Haiti overthrew Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the country’s first freely elected president
Una Maud Victoria Marson (1905-1965)
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 Army and the YMCA in Kingston was an early indication of her commitment to ideas of social justice. Her interests in journalism were also evident. In 1928 she became Jamaica’s first female editor and publisher of her own magazine, The Cosmopolitan in 1930, Marson published her first collection of poems, entitled Tropic Reveries, which won the Institute of Jamaica’s Musgrave Medal. The editorial statement of this bold and defiantly “modern” publication with a strong emphasis on women’s issues proclaimed: “This is the age of woman: what man has done, women may do.” Marson herself certainly lived up to this axiom, and by the time she left Kingston for London in 1932 she had also established her literary credentials, having published two volumes of poetry (Tropic Reveries in 1930; Heights and Depths, 1931) and staged her first play, At What a Price, to critical acclaim. In 1932 she left Jamaica for London.
From 1936 she moved back and forth between London and Jamaica. Her sojourn in England made Una Marson more aware of race equality issues around the world – from West Africa to the US. After working as an English-speaking secretary to Abyssinian minster Dr. C. W. Martin in London, Marson accompanied Haile Selassie as his a personal secretary on his last ill-fated plea for Abyssinia to the League of Nations on 30 June 1936. She subsequently returned to Kingston – having being told that she was heading from a nervous breakdown from over work. However, on her return to Jamaica, Marson continued at her usual pace. She promoted national literature by helping to create the Kingston Readers and Writers Club, as well as the Kingston Drama Club. She also founded the Jamaica Save the Children Fund, which was an organization that raised funds to give the poorer children money to get a basic education. In 1937 Marson published The Moth and the Star [poetry], followed by London Calling, [play] working with Louise Bennett, and Pocomania [play]. In 1938, Marson returned to London to continue to work on the Jamaican Save the Children project that she started in Jamaica, and also to be in the staff of the Jamaican Standard. Although Marson’s arrival in London in 1932 coincided historically with that of C. L. R. James, her cultural and intellectual ideas set her apart from both the “angry young men” who came in the 1930s and the later generation of emigrants. As her journalism and her creative works had already demonstrated, Marson was always concerned to represent issues of gender and women’s liberation alongside those of racial equality and cultural nationalism.
In London she lodged at the Peck ham home of fellow Jamaican Dr. Ronald Moody, and soon became involved with the League of Coloured Peoples, an organization founded by Moody in 1931 to address issues of racial division and prejudice. As editor of the League’s journal, The Keys, Marson was easily networked into black British circles and had opportunities to meet many of the key figures in the emergent nationalist and anti‐colonial movements. Her interest in Pan‐Africanism developed during this period, and in 1934 she met the King of Ghana, Ofori Atta. However, her interest in women’s rights continued to be equally strong and in the same year she gave a speech at the Women’s International League Conference in London. In 1935 her internationalism and conviction on issues of women’s rights meant that she was the first Jamaican invited to speak at the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship Conference in Istanbul and, in the same year, the first black woman invited to attend the League of Nations at Geneva, where a meeting with the Ethiopian delegation at the conference further raised her awareness of the urgent struggle against colonialism. Provoked and outraged by the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, Marson immediately offered her help to Dr. Charles Martin, the Ethiopian Minister. She went on to work as personal secretary to HIM Haile Selassie, but by September of 1936 she was severely depressed and unable to continue.
Marson returned home to Jamaica during a period of intense social and political unrest, but the sense of social ferment and the anticipation of certain change appear to have restored her public voice and her commitment to politics. By 1937 she had a regular column in Public Opinion, the weekly paper of the People’s National Party led by Norman Manley, and published a series of strident articles, including one entitled “Feminism”. It was also in September of this year that she published her third volume of poetry, The Moth and the Star, with many poems clearly and purposefully addressed to issues of gender and race politics that also animated her play Pocomania, staged in January 1938. Retaining her early practical commitment to social justice, Marson worked hard to raise money for a Jamaica Save the Children Association (Jamsave) while also reporting for the Jamaican Standard. In 1938 Marson returned to London in order to report on and give evidence to the Moyne Commission (a British government commission investigating the riots and unrest that had swept across the Caribbean region) and to fundraise for Jamsave. After the declaration of war in 1939 she witnessed changes in the black community in Britain, as fewer students made the journey and many of those based in London moved north.
In 1941, she was hired by the BBC Service Empire to work on a program in which World War II soldiers would have their messages read on the radio to their families. By 1942, she became the program’s West Indies Producer. During the same year, she turned the programme into Caribbean Voices, which was a forum in which Caribbean literary work is read over the radio. Her radio show was said by writer Kamau Brathwaite to be the single most important literary catalyst for Caribbean creative writing in English. In 1945 Marson published a poetry collection, ‘Towards the stars’. It is a mark of her prominence at that time that on her arrival she was met by huge crowds, and a lunch organized in her honour by the Poetry League of Jamaica was attended by Edna Manley, a prominent sculptor and wife of the future Prime Minister Norman Manley. Marson worked for some years for the nationalist Pioneer Press, the book‐publishing arm of The Gleaner. Post 1945 details about Marson’s personal life are sparse. Many or her works were unpublished or circulated mainly in Jamaica. However, in 1960 she moved to the United States, but after a failed marriage, returned to Jamaica, where she died in 1965 of a heart attack. It was only in the 1990s that her pioneering work as a writer, journalist, and intellectual found sustained acknowledgement in both Caribbean and black British histories.
- Most of her writings are found only in the Institute of Jamaica, the parent institution of the National Library of Jamaica
Works of Mason:
▪ Tropic Reveries (1930, book)
▪ Heights and Depths (1932, book)
▪ At What a Price (1933, play)
▪ Moth and the Star (1937, book)
▪ London Calling (1938, play)
▪ Pocomania (1938, play)
▪ Towards the Stars: Poems (1945, book)
Also published many articles in various periodicals
Criticisms of Mason’s Work:
Critics have both praised and dismissed Marson’s poetry. She has been criticized for mimicking European style, such as Romantic and Georgian poetics. Denise deCaires Narain suggests that Marson was overlooked because poetry concerning the condition and status of females was not important to audiences at the time the works were produced. Other critics, by contrast, praised Marson for her modern style. Some, like Narain, even suggest that her mimicking challenged conventional poetry of the time in an effort to criticize European poets. Regardless, Marson was active in the West Indian writing community during that period. Her involvement with Caribbean Voices was important to publicising Caribbean literature internationally, as well as spurring nationalism within the Caribbean Islands, which she represented.
Information Acquired from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Una_Marson on March 27, 2011
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28320522@N08/2668447857/ on March 27, 2011
Book: The life of Una marson by Delia Jarrett-Macauley
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/01/2009_09_tue.shtml on March 28, 2011
Happy Belated birthday Toussaint Louverture born May 20th 1743
François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture (ca.1743-1803) was the leader of the Haitian Revolution, the only successful slave insurrection. In 1791, upset by the revoking of The Declaration of the Rights of Man, slaves all across Saint-Domingue (modern day Haiti) began to rebel. Although free and prosperous at the time of the revolts, Louverture abandoned this comfort in order to use his military genius to lead a slave army that would defeat the French, Spanish, and English. In 1793, the French voted to end slavery in their colonies, happy with this decision, Louverture agreed to expel the Spanish and British for the French, and managed to do so in a period of 7 days. When Napoleon came to power he reinstated slavery, which caused the blacks of Saint-Domingue to rebel once more. By 1803, having grown sick of these revolts, Napoleon declared he would recognize Saint-Domingue as independent, so long as Louverture promised to retreat from public life afterwards. When it came time for them to meet for negotiations, Napoleon broke his deal and had Louverture arrested; he would die in jail. The damage had already been done, and the rebellions still raged on under the command of his 1st lieutenant Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and 6 months later Napoleon would grant them their freedom, birthing the first free black Republic in the new World.
Joseph Bologne - The Chevalier De Saint-Georges ‘The Black Mozart’ (1745-1799)
Musically Saint-George was considered the “King of Pop” of his age;
Militarily he helped prevent what could have been the early collapse of the French Revolution. The vicissitudes of his journey are dramatic: from a young outsider in Paris to the dizzying heights of superstardom in pre-Revolutionary France, to an utterly tragic end.
In his lifetime Saint George was an elite musketeer of the King’s Horse Guard; a master-swordsman and Europe’s fencing champion;
A composer, violin impresario, and opera director that influenced Mozart;
Queen Marie-Antoinette’s music teacher and confidant; a playboy whose inner circle included the author of Valmont;
A military hero who championed the French Revolution.
That Saint-George was all of these in an age when slavery was endemic and white superiority was dogma, is beyond extraordinary and the height of irony.
Known possibly as being the “king of pop for his age”, Charles Pettaway music professor of Lincoln University, sums up Bologne as being ‘perhaps the most unjustly forgotten composer of the classical period. In his day, he was known as much for his symphonies as his swordsmanship, as much for his violin virtuosity as his trendsetting dress, and as much for his equestrian skills as his many romantic dalliances. In fact, only one thing kept him from attaining the uppermost heights of his profession and immediately securing his place in music history—he was, in the parlance of his era, a mulatto’.
Despite his Herculean accomplishments, Saint George -a man whose company was once fought over by royalty and great aristocrats- died alone, unmarried and destitute in 1799. The tragedy deepened: instead of being celebrated, in 1802 after the reinstitution of slavery in France by Napoleon, Saint-George’s music was banned, and many of his scores were destroyed. Yet, Saint-George lives. Like a Phoenix, two centuries later, the indomitable Chevalier has risen from the ashes as music lovers and historians have rediscovered him. In February 2002, the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe renamed a street in the memory of the Chevalier de Saint-George, restoring his stature to one of a legendary statesman
Born on Christmas day, 1745, on the French-Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe. His mother was a young Senegalese Wolof slave of remarkable beauty named Nanon. Joseph’s father, George de Bologne Saint-George, was a wealthy sugar plantation owner and a former “Gentleman in the King’s Chamber” in the court of Louis XVI, King of France.
Bologne was remarkably dedicated to his mistress and their son. Defying the Code Noir—a royal decree designed to define the conditions of slavery in the French colonies—he treated Saint-Georges as a member of his family. And, although little is known about Saint-Georges’s early years, it is easy to imagine him growing up a relatively privileged child, spending most of his time running, swimming, and generally frolicking through Guadeloupe’s paradisial landscapes.
But Bologne wanted a better life for his son than the colonies could offer.
Life in Paris
In 1753, Saint-Georges’s father took him to Paris, where he received an education in the gentlemanly arts of fencing, music, and manners. After completing his studies, Saint-Georges was made a Gendarme de la Garde du Roi and introduced to the frothy upper classes of French society. He danced in glittering ballrooms, conversed in delicately appointed parlors, attended shows at opulent concert halls, and was rumored to frequent a number of ladies’ boudoirs. “He loved the ladies!” says Pettaway. “And the ladies loved him!”
And who could blame them? He was handsome, athletic, well connected. And, of course, there was his music. Only about a third of his compositions have survived the last two hundred years, but those that have, says Pettaway, are “certainly on par with the works of Mozart and Haydn.”
Saint-George received the tutoring appropriate for a young member of the French nobility, attending a boarding school run by a famous swordsman named La Boëssière. Besides fencing and swordsmanship, his studies included literature, the sciences, and horseback riding. The teacher became the first of several observers to write admiringly of Saint-George’s prowess with the sword. Saint-George was tall, handsome, and gracious, and he quickly found his way into the halls of the French aristocracy. In 1765 a fencer named Picard insulted Saint-George and challenged him to a duel. Saint-George at first refused, but his father promised him a new carriage if he fought and won. At the duel in the city of Rouen, Saint-George quickly emerged the victor. He suffered his first defeat the following year at the hands of the famed Italian fencer Giuseppe Gianfaldoni, who praised Saint-George and said that he would soon be the best fencer on the European continent.
In music, too, Saint-George was a standout student. Several of France’s leading composers had benefited from the elder Saint-George’s patronage in the past, and young Saint-George benefited from their musical attentions. He is thought to have studied the violin with one of the great French virtuosi, Jean-Marie Leclair the Elder, and he mastered the harpsichord (an ancestor of the piano) as well. By the late 1760s he had become the recipient of a dedication from François-Joseph Gossec, the composer at the center of Parisian concert life. In 1769 Saint-George joined an orchestra called Le Concert des Amateurs, directed by Gossec, as first violinist, and in 1773, when Gossec moved on to a different conducting post, Saint-George became the group’s director.
Even as he notched these successes, Saint-George’s status in French society was an ambivalent one. Religious leaders were agitating for the end of slavery, and King Louis XVI himself was opposed to the practice. But interracial marriages were forbidden (Saint-George was never able to marry), and belief in the genetic inferiority of Africans was widespread. As word of his athletic and musical exploits spread, Saint-George became famous. Word even reached America of how he could swim across the Seine River using only one arm or shoot at and hit a coin thrown into the air, and he was something of a fashion trendsetter as well. But there was always an undercurrent of racial controversy surrounding his reputation. Saint-George had powerful backers who appreciated his talents, including Queen Marie Antoinette (to whom he was unusually close).
- He and François-Joseph Gossec were among the first French composers to write music in an important new genre of Austrian origin—the string quartet.
- He acted as the agent in commissioning the six symphonies composed by Joseph Haydn between 1785 and 1786 known today as the “Paris Symphonies”; these symphonies were performed under the baton of Mr. Boulogne by the orchestra Concert des Amateurs.
- Mozart, was still a teenager scouring Europe for steady work when Saint-Georges’s musical career was at its peak, is thought to have “quoted” a melodic line from one of Saint-Georges’s violin concertos in his Symphonie Concertante in E-flat Major. Mozart also based a passage in his ballet score Les petits riens (The Little Nothings) on one of Saint-George’s melodies
- Other composers offered more explicit compliments to Saint-Georges’s talents: François-Joseph Gossec, Carl Stamitz, and Antonio Lolli each dedicated works to him.
Despite his renown, Saint-Georges was still vulnerable to racial prejudice. Perhaps the most flagrant and dispiriting instance occurred in 1776 when he was nominated to head the prestigious Paris Opéra, only to have his candidacy challenged by a group of divas who argued that they could not be expected to, as they put it, “submit to the orders of a mulatto.” Louis XVI had approved the appointment, says Pettaway, but the divas’ objections won out and Saint-Georges did not get the coveted directorship.
Later Life and the French revolution
When the French Revolution erupted in 1789, the democratic ideals of the revolution—liberté, égalité, fraternité—appealed to the composer, who under the Ancient Régime “never knew when the ugly face of racism would present itself again,” . He joined the National Guard at Lille at 1789, and a year later was selected to lead one thousand black soldiers charged with defending the ongoing revolution.
But service to the revolution, it turned out, was no guarantee against the sweeping violence of la Terreur. The revolutionaries regarded anyone with ties to the aristocracy with suspicion, and Saint-Georges, who had been a guard for Louis XV and conducted Haydn’s Paris Symphonies before Marie Antoinette, was no exception. Brought in on trumped-up charges in 1793, he spent nearly a year in prison. Five years later, at about the age of fifty-five, he died in Paris, destitute, alone, and all but forgotten.
Saint-Georges’s music suffered the ill effects of the Revolution no less than his person. Many of his manuscripts were destroyed during the early years of unrest and, later, under Napoleon’s government, performances of those few of his works that did survive were banned. Only recently, through the work of scholars and musicians such as Pettaway, has the music of Saint-Georges begun to reclaim audiences as it once so ably captured.
Although he was gifted, his inborn talents were magnified by his relentless effort, permitting him not only to be better, but above all to overcome the racial barrier which put before him in a time period when slavery was endemic and white superiority was dogma.
Dunoyer, T The Historical Biography of Joseph Bologne (Griot pictures Entertainment, LLC) [Online] available from: http://www.chevalierdesaintgeorge.com/bio_fulltext.html
“Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George” Notablebiographies.com, http://www.notablebiographies.com/supp/Supplement-Mi-So/Chevalier-de-Saint-George-Joseph-Boulogne.html (March 31 2012)
Remirez, C, R (2012) Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra - “The Black Mozart”(local arts Live) [Online] available from: http://localartslive.com/profiles/blogs/black-pearl-chamber-orchestra-the-black-mozart
Willford, J (2010) Black mozart: (Humanities Magazine) [Online] available from:
Zick, J, W (2012) Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) (AfriClassical.com) [Online] available from: http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/page1.html
Mary Jane Seacole (1805 – 14 May 1881)
‘A woman who succeeded despite the racial prejudice of influential sections of Victorian society’.
Mary Jane Seacole (1805 – 14 May 1881), sometimes known as Mother Seacole or Mary Grant, was a Jamaican nurse best known for her involvement in the Crimean War. She set up and operated boarding houses in Panama and the Crimea to assist in her desire to treat the sick. Seacole was taught herbal remedies and folk medicine by her mother, who kept a boarding house for disabled European soldiers and sailors.
Confident that her knowledge of tropical medicine could be useful, and after hearing of poor medical provisions for wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, she travelled to London to volunteer as a nurse. Relying on her experience in the Caribbean, she applied to the War Office and asked to be sent as an army assistant to the Crimea. She was refused, mainly because of prejudice against women’s involvement in medicine at the time.
The British Government later decided to permit women to travel to the affected area, but she was not included in the party of 38 nurses chosen by Florence Nightingale. Instead, she borrowed money to make the 4,000-mile (about 6500 km) journey by herself. She distinguished herself treating battlefield wounded, often nursing wounded soldiers from both sides while under fire. When the conflict ended in 1856 she found herself stranded and almost destitute, and was only saved from adversity by friends from the Crimean War who organised a benefit concert. In later years, she expressed a desire to work in India after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, but was unable to raise the necessary funds.
Seacole was honoured in her lifetime, alongside Florence Nightingale, but after her death she was forgotten for almost a century. Today, she is noted for her bravery and medical skills and as “a woman who succeeded despite the racial prejudice of influential sections of Victorian society”.Her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857), is a vivid account of her experiences, and is one of the earliest autobiographies of a mixed-race woman.