Archives pour la catégorie Heroes

Alonso de Illescas (~1528 -1590s)


(pronounced O-lone-zo Day EE-yes-cahs) was a native of Senegal, West Africa. He was brought to Ecuador on a slave ship around the age of 25 and grew up to be a strategist skilled in guerrilla warfare. Behind a fortress built by by an alliance of escaped African slaves and Indigenous people, Illescas and his men fought and turned back many expeditions of Spanish forces.
Alonso was also a diplomat, who on one hand, fought against the Spaniards, and on the other hand, knew how to make friends. He assisted other Blacks who were on shipwrecked slaves ships and nursed them back to health, then recruited them into his revolutionary force against Spanish troops. He was also a true governor of what is now Ecuador’s province of Esmeraldas; never subject to 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 Illescas trained new leaders starting with his son Alonso Sebastian de Illescas and his grandson Jerónimo 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. Alonso died in 1590. He was perceived as the single most powerful person in the Esmeraldas region of colonial northwestern Ecuador in the sixteenth century. In 1997, the National Congress of Ecuador declared October 2, the national day of Black Ecuadorians giving formal recognition to Alonso de Illescas.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911)


She refused to give up her Trolley Car Seat or ride in the « Colored » Section of the segregated Trolley Car in Philadelphia (1858) 100 Years before Rosa Parks.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was born September 24, 1825, in Baltimore, Maryland to free parents, orphaned by age three; she was raised by an aunt and uncle. She studied Bible, literature, and public speaking at a school founded by her uncle, William Watkins Academy for Negro Youth. Her first job at thirteen was caring for the children of a bookseller; there she began writing, composing poems, and reading the popular literature of the period. At 14, she needed to work, but could only find jobs in domestic service and as a seamstress. She published her first volume of poetry in Baltimore about 1845, Forest Leaves or Autumn Leaves, but no copies are now known to exist. Frances moved from Maryland, a slave state, to Ohio, a free state in 1850, the year of the Fugitive Slave Act. In Ohio she taught domestic science as the first woman faculty member at Union Seminary (Columbus), an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) school which later was merged into Wilberforce University. A new law in 1853 prohibited any free black persons from re-entering Maryland. In 1854, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper moved to Pennsylvania for a teaching job in Little York. The next year she moved to Philadelphia. During these years, she became involved in the anti-slavery movement and with the Underground Railroad. Her first abolitionist speech was a marked success. She lectured frequently on abolitionism in New England, the Midwest, and California, preaching social and political reform and moral betterment. Her poetry was published in poetry magazines and newspapers. Her Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects, published in 1854 with a preface by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, sold several thousand copies and saw at least twenty editions. Containing her most-acclaimed abolitionist poem, « Bury Me in a Free Land, » it firmly established Harper’s literary reputation. In 1858, Frances entered a streetcar and sat down. The conductor came to her and insisted she leave, but she stayed quietly in her seat. A passenger intervened, asking if she might be permitted to sit in a corner. She did not move. When she reached her destination, Frances got up and tried to pay the fare, but the conductor refused to take her money. She threw it down on the floor and left. It was all about racism. The white conductor was giving Frances Ellen Watkins, a hard time because she was African American, and Watkins was having none of it. She believed in equality. She believed in treating all people with dignity and respect. Her work obliged her to travel from place to place, and she was used to enduring prejudice and injustice. She had the courage not to let it stop her. She donated most of the money she earned from her books to the antislavery cause. Whenever she could, she sent a few dollars to William Still for the Vigilance Committee and the fugitives. At one point, he must have admonished Watkins to keep more of her earnings for herself. She wrote back, « Let me explain a few matters to you. In the first place, I am able to give something. In the second place, I am willing to do so. » In fact, she was more than willing and able. To her, helping humanity was a sacred calling, and she felt blessed to be able to do it. « Oh, is it not a privilege, » she wrote to a friend, « if you are sisterless and lonely, to be a sister to the human race, and to place your heart where it may throb close to down-trodden humanity? »
Watkins supported a movement called Free Produce, which encouraged people to boycott all products tied to slave labor. « Oh, could slavery exist long if it did not sit on a commercial throne? » she wrote. « Our moral influence against slavery must be weakened, our testimony diluted if . . . we are constantly demanding rice from the swamps, cotton from the plantations, and sugar from the deadly mills. »
She hoped that blacks would establish a network of schools, newspapers, and churches dedicated to the betterment of themselves and each other. She believed that an important goal of antislavery work was to teach her people « how to build up a character for themselves—a character that will challenge respect in spite of opposition and prejudice; to develop their own souls, intellect and genius, and thus verify their credentials. »
Frances Harper advocated for equality and reforms for the rest of her life. The racist rhetoric of her day was ugly and white people who harmed or even murdered blacks usually went unpunished, yet she did not give in to anger or despair. Her words helped Americans across racial lines understand their common humanity and common yearnings. She believed she could contribute to the betterment of society by uplifting her listeners, and she hoped that her life might « gladden the earth. » She shone a light on injustice so that others might see it more clearly—but she remained confident that some day, there would be liberty and justice for all. She died in 1911.


“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

Marcus Garvey

« The day will come when history will speak… Africa will write its own history…
it will be a history of glory and dignity. » – Patrice Lumumba

 » Freedom by any means necessary ». Malcolm X

« While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas” – Thomas Sankara

“I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me.”
Kwame Nkrumah

« Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. » Nelson Mandela

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.
None but ourselves can free our minds.”
Bob Marley

« I believe it is very important to teach our people more about our history.
We can never be free until we know about ourselves. »
Muhammad Ali

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where
 they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King Jr.Image

More than a hero : Muhammad Ali

My father was always doing great things! One time, he got a telephone call about a young man who was threatening to jump off of a building a few blocks away from our house. The man was a Vietnam veteran who felt he had nothing left to live for. My father immediately dropped what he was doing, drove to location, go out on the ledge with the young man, and talked him back inside the window. Soon, thereafter, my father found him an apartment and paid the rent until the vet coul find a decent job. Yes my father is a hero!

From the book Muhammad Ali’s life lesson : More than a hero by Hana Ali

Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone (August 9, 1869—May 10, 1957)

Annie Malone was a pioneering African-American who  was the first African-American millionaire in the United States (Madame C.J. Walker worked for and was trained by Malone prior to her entrepreneurial journey: Madame C.J. Walker had a  mentor and teacher who remained obscure and lost in history for most of us ).


Annie Minerva Tumbo Malone was born in Metropolis, Illinois She was the tenth of 11 children of Robert Turnbo, a poor farmer, and Isabella Cook Turnbo. Her parents died when she was young.  From her humble beginnings as an orphan raised by her sister, Annie Malone became one of America’s first self-made Millionaire. As a young girl, Malone enjoyed fashioning her own and her sisters’ hair. She became aware of differences in hair texture and sought a way to straighten hair.

 She began developing safer and more effective hair care methods and treatments for women of color in the 1890’s. By the turn of the century, she had developed a network of “Poro Agents” who went door-to-door marketing hair care and beauty supplies she had created. In 1917, Annie Malone founded the first Poro College in St. Louis, Missouri. By the 1920’s she had built a financial empire valued at over $15 million dollars. This included dozens of Poro Colleges where she empowered people with personal development and training in the business of black cosmetology, manufacturing, and public etiquette.  At her zenith, she had established over 100 beauty salons & supply stores nationwide, built manufacturing and distribution centers, and employed more than 10,000 door-to-door agents world wide.

 Annie taught Madame C.J Walker and thousands more at Poro Colleges around the country. Madame C.J. Walker was one of those “Poro agents” who went on to build on Ms. Annie’s shoulders. A beauty industry pioneer, Annie Malone, the social activist and philanthropist, donated vast amounts of wealth to social and educational institutions. Among the most noted was her $25,000.00 donation to Howard University. At that time, it was the largest gift ever donated to a historically black institution.However, historians credit Malone with having developed her products and distribution system first. Walker sold her own “Wonderful Hair Straightener,”.  As a result, Malone trademarked Poro, a new name for her product and merchandising systems in 1906. (Poro is a West African word for an organization dedicated to disciplining and enhancing the body spiritually and physically.)

Never forgetting her past, in 1922 Annie Malone made her first $10,000.00 contribution to the St. Louis Colored Orphans’ Home, where she served as president from 1919 to 1943. In 1946, it was renamed the Annie Malone Children’s Home in honor of her.

Annie Turnbo Malone died of a stroke on May 10, 1957, in Chicago, Illinois. She was 87. By the time of her death, Malone had lost her national visibility and most of her money. Having no children, her estate, valued at $100,000, was left to her nieces and nephews.

Maria Chiquinquira Díaz




Maria Chiquinquira
Maria Chiquinquira Díaz, was an Afro-Ecuadorian woman enslaved in Guayaquil, Ecuador in the 1700’s and was the first slave in Ecuador to win her freedom. She was enslaved by Presbyter Afonso Cepeda de Arizcum Elizondo. Maria Chiquinquira “entered a legal battle” for her and her daughter’s freedom in May 1794 and changed the course of her history and for thousands of black women in Ecuador.
Although she was a slave, she was aware of some of her rights and fought for her freedom based on that information. Maria (along with other female slaves in Latin America) won her freedom by accusing their masters of dishonorable acts including, siring children with slave women, requiring work on Sundays, withholding time for mass, and failing to provide instruction in the faith. Her portrait hangs in the Museum of Nahim Isaias in Guayaquil, Ecuador.