port of harlem magazine
black memorabilia show
From These Shores: You Can Help Create a New Diaspora History Exhibition
December 17 – December 30, 2020

john c robiinson

Benedita da Silva

You can help determine what the 25,000 people who visit the Juffureh Slavery Museum in the Gambia see, read, and learn about the African diaspora. The Port Of Harlem Gambian Education Partnership (POHGEP) is developing its second exhibition for the (Gambia) National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and accepting your comments, donations, and volunteer efforts for this new project.

We are currently calling the exhibit “From These Shores.”

This will be our third project with the NCAC. In March 2006, we presented Mr. Joof, then director of the NCAC a framed Martin Robison Delany pointillism painting. The Black Camisards donated the John A. Nelson limited edition image of Martin Robison Delany. Delany is the father of Pan-Africanism and was a Mandinka-American. Mandinkas make up the largest ethnic group in the West African nation.

Under the directorship of Baba Ceesey, in March 2012, we donated the nine-image “West Africans in Early America Exhibit.” It features an array of Senegambian-Americans with identifiable Senegambia (Senegal and Gambia combined) heritage. We are grateful to America’s Islamic Heritage Museum for helping us identify some of the Senegambian-Americans.

According to Hassoum Ceesay, the new Director General of the NCAC, about 30 percent of the visitors to The Gambia and the museum are from the United Kingdom.  Others come from Germany, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, and now Poland. Tourism is the second highest earner of foreign revenue for the smallest country on the African continent. Juffureh is the most visited destination in The Gambia and is the home of Kunte Kinte, Kunte Kinte Island (formerly St. James), and the Juffureh mosque started by Alex Hailey and completed by Louis Farrakhan.

What you can do now:

1) Suggest another individual for us to include in the exhibit.
2) Suggest a correction or addition to a biographical sketch.
3) Suggest a name for the exhibition
4) Donate your artistic talents or photograph of one of the individuals in the exhibition.
5) Donate an artifact related to an individual in the exhibition such as a concert ticket, stamp, etc.

POHGEP is now considering an image and a short biography of each of the following:

James Robinson Johnston (March 12, 1876 - March 3, 1915) Canada
In 1896, James Robinson Johnston became the first African Nova Scotian to graduate from a university.  He earned a Dalhousie degree (Bachelor of Letters) and went on to become the first Black lawyer to practice in Nova Scotia.  In 1991, nearly a century after Johnston studied at Dalhousie, the university established the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies.

Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez (January 29, 1942 - ) Cuba
The world’s first African astronaut is Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez.  The Russians launched the Vietnam War veteran and a Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko into space aboard Soyuz 38 on September 18, 1980. Méndez’s space suit is preserved at the Museum of the Revolution in Havana.

Sebastián Lemba (circa 1500 – circa 1547) Dominican Republic
When Sebastián Lemba was a young man in southern Africa, slave traders captured him around 1525. His owner took him to France and Spain and eventually to Hispaniola, and island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Lemba and other enslaved Africans rose up against the Spanish colony around 1532.

The rebels eventually escaped to the mountainous interior of the island and for several years fought against the Spanish. Other freedom seeking enslaved Africans joined their group. Ultimately, on September 25, 1547, Lemba was captured. Today, Dominicans revere Lemba as a national hero and a statue of him stands outside of the Museo del Hombre Dominicano (Museum of the Dominican People) in the capital city, Santo Domingo.

President Vicente Ramón Guerrero Saldaña (1781-1831) Mexico
(In Spanish tradition, his first or paternal family name is Guerrero and the second or maternal family name is Saldaña)  He fought for and presided over the arrival of independence and the abolition of slavery. Theodore Vincent in his book “The Legacy of Vicente Guerrero, Mexico’s First Black Indian President,” and his 2001 article in the Journal of Negro History points out the African and Indian roots of his father Pedro, a mule driver, who passed onto his son a lifelong hatred of slavery and oppression. Guadalupe, Guerrero’s mother, was of Indian and European heritage.

Benkos Biohó (late 16th century-1621) Colombia 
The former African king of what is now partly Guinea-Bissau escaped from the slave port of Cartagena, Columbia with ten others and founded San Basilio de Palenque, then known as the "village of the maroons." In 1713, it became the first free village in the Americas by decree from the King of Spain when he gave up sending his troops on futile missions to attack their fortified mountain hideaway. The treaty was violated by the Spaniards in 1619 when they captured Biohó. He was hanged and quartered on March 16, 1621.

Bayard Rustin (1912 – 1987) United States
Between the first Chicago student sit-ins in 1942 and the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act in 1964 and 1965, Bayard Rustin had a hand in nearly every major nonviolent civil rights activity in the United States. In Ghana, he helped Kwame Nkrumah organize the youth division of his political party. When Rustin began to organize the March on Washington, Senator Strom Thurmond rose on the floor of the U.S. Senate and attacked Rustin as a draft dodger, homosexual, and communist. Despite his “baggage,” leaders chose Rustin to organize the march where Dr. King delivered his now famous, “I Have a Dream” speech. Increasingly, a number of buildings are being named for Rustin including the Social Justice Center in Conway, Arkansas.

George Washington Carver (1860? – 1943) United States
Moses Carver owned George at his birth and as a youngster George would refer to himself as Carver’s George. After slavery ended, George continued to pursue his education and became the first Black graduate of Iowa State University. In 1896, Booker T. Washington, the first principal and president of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), invited Carver to head its Agriculture Department. Carver taught there for 47 years where he gained international fame with promoting crop rotation, mobile classrooms, peanuts, and sweet potatoes.  There are many memorials to Carver including one where Carver had spent time in his childhood. It was the first national monument dedicated to an African American and the first to honor someone other than a president.

Mathias de Sousa (circa 1600s- circa 1600s) United States
Possibly of African and Portuguese descent, Mathias de Sousa was an indentured servant brought to Maryland, USA by Jesuit missionaries in 1634.  His indenture was finished by 1638, and he became a mariner and fur trader. He served in the 1642 legislative assembly of freemen. As such. he is the first African American to sit in any legislative body in what would become the United States. Until 1670, even freemen of color such as de Sousa had the right to vote.

LeBron James (1984 - ) United States
A Cleveland, Ohio known basketball prodigy since elementary school, LeBron James was Ohio’s Mr. Basketball (high-school player of the year) three times.  The Cleveland Cavaliers chose him to play professionally during the first overall selection of the 2003 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft.  He signed an unprecedented $90 million endorsement contract with the Nike shoe company before he played a professional game. The four-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) award winner is also a three-championship team member,
As a philanthropist, his "I Promise" program offers its students free tuition, uniforms, breakfast, lunch and snacks, transportation within 2 miles, free bicycle and helmet, access to a food pantry for their families, and guaranteed tuition for all graduates to the University of Akron.

Bryan Stevenson (1959 - ) United States
After the American Civil War (1861-1865), the Reconstruction I Period (1863 to 1877) included the rebuilding of the losing South and the inclusion of Blacks as free people. Lynching became a tool to reinstate White supremacy.

Bryan Stevenson initiated the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama which opened in 2018 and honors more than 4,000 African Americans lynched in the 12 southern states from 1877 to 1950. As a lawyer, he argues that slavery and lynchings influenced the subsequent high rate of death sentences in the South, where it has been disproportionately applied to African-Americans. A related museum, The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, show the connection between the post-Reconstruction period of lynchings to the high rate of executions and incarceration of non-Whites in the United States.

John C. Robinson (1903-1954) United States
In 1931, two years after the Great Depression had started, John C. Robison co-founded Robbins Airport, America’s first Black airport.   During its short life, the airport created its own legacy including being the site where ten of the original Tuskegee Airmen learned to fly. In April 1935, when Italy attacked Ethiopia, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie wired an official invitation to Robinson offering him an officer's commission in the fledging Ethiopian air force. Robinson accepted and was later named the commander of the Air Force and played a role in the foundation of Ethiopian Airlines. Because of his work and influence in aviation,Robinson is often considered the "Father of the Tuskegee Airmen” and the “Father of Ethiopian Airlines.”

Claudia Jones (Cumberbatch) (1915 – 1964) Trinidad and Tobago
With Karl Marx’s work as a base, she developed her own theories. In 1949, she published her best known piece, “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!” in which she links her race and gender. As a Communist Party USA organizer, leader, editor, theoretician, and journalist, she adopted the surname “Jones” as “self-protective disinformation.” However, her communist ties led the U.S. to deport her to the UK in 1955. Today, many consider her the mother of London’s Notting Hill Carnival, one of the world’s largest street festivals, which started as an attempt at unifying a Black community.  Claudia Vera Cumberbatchis buried to the left of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery in North London.

Dr. Patricia Bath (1942–2019) United States
Born in Harlem, New York, the pioneering cataract treatment Inventor became the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology in 1973. In 1976, she co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, which established that "eyesight is a basic human right." In 1981, Bath began working on her most well-known invention: the Laserphaco Probe and became the first African-American woman to receive a patent for a medical purpose in 1988. The Laserphaco Probe was able to help restore the sight of individuals who had been blind for more than 30 years. In 1990, she published the first scientific paper documenting the higher prevalence of blindness among Blacks including having an eight times higher prevalence of glaucoma as a cause of blindness.

Nanny Jamaica (circa 1685 — circa 1750) Jamaica
Nanny of the Maroons is an iconic figure in Jamaican history whose legacy has been celebrated in poems, portraits, and currency. During a period of 30 years, she was credited with freeing more than 1,000 enslaved African and helping them to resettle in the Maroon community. As a result of their freedom victories against the British, two peace treaties were signed in 1738/39 granting the Maroons territorial sovereignty in their remote mountainous strongholds, including what is now the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. Queen Nanny is the only female among Jamaica’s seven national heroes. Her portrait is featured on the $500 Jamaican dollar bill, which is colloquially referred to as a "Nanny."

Benedita da Silva, (1942 - ) Brazil
At the age of 40, Da Silva received her high-school diploma and attended college at the same time as her then 20-year-old daughter. In 1994, voters elected her to the Senate, becoming the first female senator in Brazil.  In 2002, now Vice Governor Da Silva assumes the governorship of the State of Rio de Janeiro, becoming the first woman and the first Black to occupy the office, when the governor ran for President.

Susana Esther Baca de la Colina, (1944 - ) Peru  
Baca is a prominent singer-songwriter, school teacher, folklorist, ethnomusicologist, and two-times Latin Grammy Award winner. She has been a key figure in the revival of Afro-Peruvian music. In July 2011, she was named Peru's Minister of Culture in the Ollanta Humala government, becoming the second Afro-Peruvian cabinet minister in the history of independent Peru.

Artist and Photographer Contributions (To Date)

Cedric Baker

Oggi Ogburn
Larry Walker

Jonathan French
Rog and Bee Walker

Question Panels
How old was Benedita da Silva, Brazil’s first female senator, and first woman and Black governor when she received her high-school diploma and attended college at the same time as her then 20-year-old daughter?

In 1931, two years after the Great Depression had started, John C. Robison co-founded Robbins Airport, America’s first Black airport.  Robinson is often considered the "Father of the Tuskegee Airmen” and the father of what African airline?

Claudia Jones (Cumberbatch) as a Communist Party USA organizer, leader, editor, theoretician, and journalist, adopted the surname “Jones” as “self-protective disinformation.”  She is buried next to Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery in North London. Is she buried to his left or to his right?


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