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 Robinson 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:

Rosemary Sadlier (19?? - ) Canada
Toronto’s Rosemary Sadlier traces her Canadian roots to 1783 when her father’s ancestors arrived in then British controlled New Brunswick as Black Loyalist who fled the USA during British-American conflicts. Her mother’s ancestors arrived by 1840 via the Underground Railroad from, most likely, Virginia, USA.

As president of the Ontario Black History Society (1993 to 2015), she collaborated with the Historica Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Encyclopedia to create the Black History Canada web site. Sadlier also contributed to Canadian Black history being recognized through research, writings, exhibits, and outreach programs. Her advocacy was central to the government’s 1995 decision to make February Black History Month and an annual celebration and in 2021, the designation of August 1, Emancipation Day, as a federal day.

Photographer Lawrence E. Kerr

Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez (January 29, 1942 - ) Cuba
The world’s first Black cosmonaut 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.

Artist: Chris Meiselman

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, an 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.

Artist Carlos Walker

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.

Artist Larry Walker

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.

Artist Hampton Olfus Jr

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.

Courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University

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.

Artist Jay Durrah

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.

Artist Rose MG Jackson

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.

Artist Greg Scott

Bryan Stevenson (1959 - ) United States
Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. EJI has won legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. He led the creation of two sites which opened in 2018, The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery. The institutions chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation and their connection to mass incarceration and contemporary racial bias issues.

After the American Civil War (1861-1865), lynching became a tool to reinstate White supremacy. The sites also honor more than 4,000 African Americans lynched from 1877 to 1950.

Photographer Rog and Bee Walker

John C. Robinson (1903-1954) United States
In 1931, two years after the Great Depression had started, John C. Robinson 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”

Artist Willie C. Cordy, Jr.

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 Cumberbatch is buried to the left of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery in North London.

Artist Kevin Trent, Jr.

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett (1986- ) United States
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is a viral immunologist who co-developed the Moderna vaccine used to fight COVID-19.  "The vaccine teaches the body how to fend off a virus, because it teaches the body how to look for the virus by basically just showing the body the spike protein of the virus" she explained. "The body then says 'Oh, we've seen this protein before. Let's go fight against it.' That's how it works."

Colbert received her early education in a rural North Carolina town and obtained her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014. Her earlier research focused on developing a universal influenza vaccine. She also 15 years studying dengue virus, respiratory syncytial virus, and coronaviruses.

Photographer The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Staff

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.

Artist Cedric Baker

Susana Esther Baca de la Colina (1944 - ) Peru  
It’s not unusual for Susana Baca concert goers to witness the singer-songwriter, school teacher, folklorist, ethnomusicologist, and three-time Latin Grammy Award winner perform shoeless. The trail blazer and keeper of the culture has also been a key figure in the revival of Afro-Peruvian music.

Over the decades, she transversed Peru, recording in rural areas and gathering material from elderly singers with many of the songs she gathered having their roots in the enslaved. She and Richard Pereira, her husband, founded the Center for Black Continuum, dedicated to promoting Black music and dance. In July 2011, she became the second Afro-Peruvian cabinet minister in the history of independent Peru when she became Minister of Culture.

Photographer Jonathan French

Aimé Césaire (1913-2008) and Suzanne (née Roussi) Cesaire (1915 –1966) Martinique
Writer-activist Aimé Césaire coined the panAfricanist "Négritude" concept along with poet and future Senegalese President Léopold Senghor and French Guianese writer Léon Damas. Raised and educated in an assimilationist French culture, Suzanne pioneered in the search for an alternative cultural framework, but her writings are often overshadowed by her husband’s, Aimé’.

Similarly, he wrote that Black people, worldwide, should reject the norms that encouraged the adoption of European intellectual traditions. Psychiatrist and political philosopher Frantz Fanon said that Césaire's ideas, especially leaving Europe to create a uniquely African or diasporic African intellectual traditions, influenced his own writings.

Artist Prelli Anthony Williams

Sophie Redmond (1907-1955) Suriname
She was a doctor with her own practice in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname. She often wore a “koto,” the African-Surinamese traditional dress. Her work was mostly in Sranantongo, an English-based Creole language.

Many called her “datra fu pôtisma” (doctor of the poor). She also gave advice on marriage, family, and financial issues. During her weekly radio show, “Datra, mi wan aksi wan sani” (Doctor, I have a question), she discussed health, hygiene, the household, and current social issues. She acted in and wrote plays, often using them to educate the audience on topics ranging from elections to blood transfusions. There is a street named for her in Paramaribo and a lecture series in Amsterdam.

Artist Karen Jenkins

Artist and Photographer Contributions (To Date)

Cedric Baker
Willie C Cordy Jr.
Jay Durrah
Rose M G Jackson
Karen Jenkins
Chris Meiselman
Greg Scott
Kevin Trent, Jr
Hampton Olfus, Jr
Carlos Walker
Larry Walker
Prelli Anthony Williams

Jonathan French
Lawrence E. Kerr
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Staff
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. Robinson 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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