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Fri, 08.03.1832

An Early Nationalist, Edward Blyden

Edward W. Blyden

*On this date we recall the birth of Edward Wilmot Blyden in 1832. He was a Black Nationalist and Repatriations advocate.

From 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's American Colonization Society to study at the new Alexander High School in Monrovia. Seven 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 a 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.  Edward Blyden died in 1912.

Reference:
Selected letters of Edward Wilmot Blyden
By: Edward Wilmot Blyden; Ralph Lynch Hollis
Millwood, N.Y., KTO Press, 1978.
ISBN: 0527588903

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