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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division

Edward Wilmot Blyden

One of the most prominent nineteenth-century advocates of Black Nationalism and emigration was Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832 - 1912) a native of Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands. He came to New York in 1847 in pursuit of a higher education, then moved to Liberia in 1850. Over several decades there and in Sierra Leone, he achieved remarkable professional and personal success: he served as an editor, teacher, professor, college president, politician, and twice as Liberia's ambassador to Britain. He was also an ardent advocate of Black Nationalism. In 1861, he made the first of several trips to the United States to encourage African Americans to immigrate to Africa because he believed that American racism was so ingrained that blacks could never be more than second-class citizens. He worked assiduously to forge close economic and social ties between blacks of the Diaspora and those in Africa.

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