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*On this date in 1897, the American Negro Academy (ANA) was founded. Originated in Washington, D.C., the ANA was the creation of Rev. Alexander Crummell, the son of a West African Tribal Chief (Temme Tribe) and an American literary advocate.
After ANA’s start, five major objectives were instituted. Those objectives were: defense of the Negro against vicious assaults, publication of scholarly works, fostering higher education among Negroes, formulation of intellectual taste, and the promotion of literature, science, and art. The ANA was the first and only organization in America, at that time, to bring together Black artists and scholars from all over the world.
By 1918, ANA had produced literary and scholarly works such as: "The Training of the Negro Ministry" by J. E. Moorland, "Comparative Study of the Negro Problem" by Charles C. Cook, "Disfranchisement of the Negro" by J. L. Lowe, "A Review of Hoffman’s Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro" by Kelly Miller, "The Status of the Free Negro from 1860-1970" by William Pickens, "Economic Contribution by the Negro of America" by Arthur Schomburg, and many others. In 1924, the ANA faded away. Decades later, the ANA was regenerated by interested poets, historians, dancers, essayists, musicians, dramatists, novelists, actors, journalists, scholars, painters, etc.
These artists and scholars need to rejuvenate the Academy led to major meetings. These meetings (Oct. 5, 1968 and Dec. 8, 1968) were held at the 20th Century Fund, 41 East 70th Street, NY, NY. Participants present at these meetings were: Dr. C. Eric Lincoln, who served as Chairperson, Julian "Cannaball" Adderly, Romare Bearden, Dr. Oliver Cromwell Cox, Floyd Coleman, Vertis C. Hayes, Dr. Vivian W. Henderson, Dr. Adelaide Cromwell Hill, Robert Hooks, John O. Killens, Dr. Martin Luther Kilson, Jr., Donald McKayle, Arthur Mitchell, Frederick O’Neal, Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Dr. Benjamin Quarles, M. J. Rossant, Doris Saunders, Chuck Stone, and John A. Williams.
The result was the Black Academy of Arts and Letters (BAAL). Founded to carry on the tradition and mission of the ANA, BAAL was chartered and incorporated as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization by the State of New York on June 12, 1969.
University of Wisconsin Madison
Afro American Studies Department
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