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« on: August 02, 2005, 01:45:22 PM »

Henry Sylvester Williams

Progenitor of Pan-Africanism Movement

Trinidadian Henry Sylvester Williams is credited with convening the 1st Pan African Conference in London in 1900. Williams left Trinidad in 1893 intending to attend law school in Canada. Though financial difficulties thwarted this goal, Williams lived and interacted with African-Americans in both Canada and the United States. He eventually immigrated to England where he studied law at Gray's Inn, one of the four "Inns of Court" in which barristers were trained. Mathurin traced Williams' entry into political activism to his interaction with Ms. E. V. Kinloch, a Black South African woman very critical and vocal about colonial oppression in her homeland. Williams established the African Association in 1897, collaborating with Ms. Kinloch and Joseph Mason of Antigua (Contee, 1973.). Their initial efforts were reformist, and involved the use of conventional lobbying methods, including public speeches on African oppression and development issues, news editorials; and attempts to influence colonial officials and parliament as it related to the mistreatment and exploitation of black subjects within the British empire. Discussing their organization goals in one interview, Williams stated that the Association's primary goal was "to secure throughout the world the same facilities and privileges for the black man as the white man enjoys." (Contee, 1973, p. 17) Williams traveled throughout the British Isles to gain support from white liberals, African workers and students. Eventually, they became involved in efforts to abolish racial inequality and economic exploitation of all African populations, whether on the continent of Africa or in the diaspora.

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