The Father of Pan-Africanism and Reparations.
Rev. Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden (August 3, 1832 – February 7, 1912). He was a Black Nationalist and Repatriations advocate in the late 1800s.
Born in St. Thomas, in the West Indies, Blyden was educated beginning at the age of twelve when a white pastor began to encourage him to make the ministry his life’s work. At eighteen, upon coming to America, he was unable to find a seminary that would accept a black student. Instead he went to Liberia under the sponsorship of the New York Colonization Society to study at the new Alexander High School in Monrovia. 7 years later he was the principal of the school. As an adult, Blyden had two careers, a teacher and a scholar.
In his writings, he defended his race at every opportunity, exalted the achievements of other blacks, attacked slavery and advocated repatriation of his people back to Africa. As a teacher he was professor of classics from 1862 to 1871 and president of Liberia College from 1880 to 1884. At the same time as a politician and diplomat in Liberia, he was Secretary of State from 1864 to 1866, Minister of Interior from 1880 to 1882, Minister to Britain from 1877 to 1878 and 1892, and Minister Plenipotentiary to London and Paris in 1905.
Blyden traveled to America eight times representing Liberia, his last visit was in 1895. He studied both Christianity and Islam, summing up his views in his influential book Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race. Between 1901 and 1905 he was Director of Education in Sierra Leone.
Blyden's idea's and speeches urging a return to Africa and the re-creation of an African Nation were to seed African consciousness movements all over the world. There is an unbroken line of black leaders that inherited his ideas, directly or indirectly. W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey exploded them into the twentieth century, continuing to champion the theme of a return to Africa. Their political ideas in turn became a source for the leaders of African independence movements of the fifties and sixties- Nkrumah, Nyerere, Sekou Toure and Blyden's own grandson, Edward W. Blyden III whose Sierra Leone Independence Movement (SLIM) played a key role in winning Sierra Leone's independence from Great Britain. Edward Blyden died in 1912.
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