Monday, March 19, 2018

A00921 - Gilbert Jonas, Long Time Fundraiser for the NAACP

Gilbert Maurice Jonas (July 22, 1930 – September 21, 2006), was an American businessman and long-time fundraiser for the NAACP.
Born in Brooklyn, Jonas graduated from Stanford University in 1951, and earned a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University. After a stint in the Army's public information office, he served as a public relations adviser to the African independence movement in the late 1950s. Later he became acting director of the Far East section of the Peace Corps.
From 1962 till the mid-1990s, Jonas ran the Gilbert Jonas Company, a public relations and fund-raising firm based in Manhattan where he lived. Active in progressive political causes, Jonas served as the N.A.A.C.P.'s chief fund-raiser from 1965 to 1995, helping to raise $110 million for the organization during that period.
In June 1995, Jonas filed suit against the N.A.A.C.P., charging fiscal impropriety and back pay and damages. The suit was settled out of court later that summer, with the N.A.A.C.P. agreeing to pay Mr. Jonas's back pay.
In 2005, Jonas published the book Freedom's Sword: The NAACP and the Struggle Against Racism in America, 1909-1969, with a foreword by civil-rights leader Julian Bond.
He is survived by three daughters, Susan Dale Jonas, Jillian Dana Jonas and Stephanie Drew Jonas Stone. His first wife was Barbara Lynn Selby. His second wife Paulette Joyce Thiese.

A00920 - Paul Johnstone, South African Rugby Player

Paul Geoffrey Allen Johnstone (30 June 1930 – 22 April 1996) was a South African rugby union wing.[1]Johnstone played club rugby in South Africa for Paarl, Hamiltons, Villagers, Pirates and Berea Rovers; and in the UK for Blackheath He played provincial rugby for both Natal and Western Province. He was capped for South Africanine times between 1951 and 1956 first representing the team on the 1951–52 South Africa rugby tour of Great Britain, Ireland and France. The touring team is seen as one of the greatest South African teams, winning 30 of the 31 matches, including all five internationals.

Personal history[edit]

Johnstone was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1930. He was educated at Hilton College, leaving school at the age of 19.[2] He soon after took a trip to England working as a clerk in London.[2] On returning to South Africa he enrolled at the University of Cape Town where he became a law student.[2] In 1952 he returned to the United Kingdom and entered St John's College, Oxford, to read law. He graduated B.A. in 1955. He played for the OURFC in each of his three years at Oxford University, earning his 'Blue' on each occasion, and in the season 1954 -55 he was Captain of the OURFC. He married Josephine Booth and had three children: Amanda (Mandy), Louise and Matthew. For many years he was general manager of South African Breweries in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe). He died in Hermanus, Western Cape on 22 April 1996.

Rugby career[edit]

Johnstone played rugby from schoolage, selected for province side Natal at the age of 19.[2] While working in London he played club rugby for Blackheath.[2] After his return to South Africa, he turned out for the University of Cape Town. Johnstone was the surprise choice for the Sprinkboks tour of Britain.[2] At the Newland Trials he began the week in the eighth choice team, before advancing into the first team for the main game on the last day.[2] His rise during the trials was surprising, as his form at club level leading up to the trials had been very poor.[2] There was talk of him being dropped to the university second team, and he was injured in his second appearance of the trial where there was doubt that he would be able to play again for some time.[2]

1951 Tour to Great Britain[edit]

Despite being unfancied before the tour and possessing no international experience, he became a regular team member of the tour appearing in 18 of the 31 matches, and was the only wing to play in all five international games. Johnstone finished the tour as the fourth highest scorer, with 43 points (11 tries, 2 penalties and 2 conversions).[3]
The tour managers choose to place the four wing players on rotation. Johnstone and Saunders were chosen for the first game, against a combined South-Eastern Counties team at Bournemouth. Johnstone scored the first try of the tour in the eighteenth minute and doubled his score with another try in the second half.[4] South Africa won 31–6. Johnstone next played in the third game against a joint Pontypool/Newbridge team (scoring another try), before being moved into the centre position in an encounter with Llanelli. The very next game Johnstone was back in his favoured wing position and was back on the scoresheet with a try in a victory over the North-Western Counties. After being rested for the Glasgow/Edinburgh match, Johnstone played in two games back to back, wins over North-Eastern Counties and Cambridge University. Johnstone missed the encounter against London Counties, the only South African loss of the tour, before scoring two tries in the eleventh game of the tour, against Oxford University.[5]
On 24 November 1951, Johnstone was awarded his first international cap when he was selected to face Scotland at Murrayfield.[6] Scotland were beaten heavily, and although South Africa scored nine tries, none came from Johnstone or from the South Africans other wing Buks Marais. His second cap came two weeks later when he was chosen for the match against Ireland.[7] The South Africans won 17–5, but again Johnstone was unable to secure his first international points. The game after Ireland, was a rough-and-tumble match against [[Munster Rugby|Munster]; As a result of this 'rough and tumble', Johnstone earned the nickname 'The Mauler of Munster".]. Johnstone was one of only six players from the Ireland encounter to be selected for the match, which was played in muddy conditions.[8] Johnstone was criticised for some poor defensive work, with his tackling sometimes high and ineffective, but he started the scoring with a try late in the first half.[8] The game ended 11–6 to South Africa.
Johnstone was rested after the Munster match, playing in only two games from the next five; both internationals, against Wales and England. The Wales game was the most highly anticipated of the tour, with the match being hailed as the 'game of the century' and as 'for the rugby championship of the world'.[9] The match was a tense affair, with little action for the backs from either team. The game ended 6–3 to South Africa,[10] and although Johnstone again failed to score at international level, he did make an important defensive contribution when he threw himself on the ball to prevent Wales' Ken Jones from scoring.[11] On 5 January 1952, Johnstone played in the game against England. He came close to scoring on two occasions, but was unable to finish either. Even without his tries, England were beaten 8–3.[12]
With the Home Nation internationals behind them, South Africa had five more matches before travelling to France. Johnstone played against Newport and Midland Counties, scoring a try in the former, before he was selected for the last game in Britain, an encounter with the Barbarians. On the day of the match, South Africa, through injuries, were without both fly-halves, Dennis Fry and Hannes Brewis. Johnstone was given the fly-half role despite having last played in that position over three years previously in an encounter between Natal and Transvaal.[13] At half time, the Springboks were 3–0 down. Johnstone had not been poor at fly-half, but the play was not at its best.[13] The South African's reacted by bringing Keevy in at fly half and putting Johnstone back out at his favoured right wing position.[14] South Africa improved after the change, winning the game 17–3. Johnstone was given half of the kicking duties and scored a penalty, the last points of the match. Johnstone ended the British leg of the tour as he had started it, scoring the first and last points.[15]
The tour then travelled to France to play a further four games, including an encounter with the France national team. Johnstone played in two, against South West France and the international. In the match against South West France, a 20–12 win, he scored a try and a conversion.[5] In the encounter with France, Johnstone had an excellent start, scoring the first nine points, his first at international level. He scored his first, a penalty goal after twenty-five minutes, this was followed by a try after a break by Stephen Fry after thirty-two, finished with a second try eight minuted into the second half.[16] Johnstone finished the match by converting a van Wyk try.[17]South Africa finished the tour by beating France 25–3.[18] On their return to South Africa, Johnstone received a letter from 'Danie' Craven, the tour leader and coach, stating that "You were the most improved player in the team".[citation needed]

1956 tour to Australia and New Zealand[edit]

Two major tours came to South Africa before Johnstone represented South Africa again. He failed to play in the four Tests against the 1953 touring Australians and the four Test matches played against the 1955 touring British Lions due to the fact that he was at that time studying law in Oxford. During his three years at Oxford, he was awarded a Blue each year; and in 1954–55 he was captain of Oxford University RFC.[19] In 1956 the Springboks undertook a tour of Australia and New Zealand, and Johnstone was selected in the touring party. As well as the club and representative games, South Africa played six Tests, two against Australia and four against the New Zealand 'All Blacks'.
Johnstone played in the first Test against Australia, in his favoured position of right wing; South Africa won 9–0.[20] He missed the second and final Test against Australia, but was back in the squad for the first Test against New Zealand on 14 July. South Africa were beaten 6–10, it was Johnstone's first loss at international level. Despite the loss, Johnstone was back for the second Test against the All Blacks, this time a win for South Africa. Johnstone was absent from the third New Zealand Test, in which the Springboks lost 10–17, and he was re-drafted in for the final Test. South Africa lost the game, and the series against New Zealand, and Johnstone never represented South Africa at international level again.

A00919 - Percy Johnston, African-American Poet, Playwright and Professor

Percy Edward Johnston (May 18, 1930 – March 20, 1993) was an African-American poetplaywright, and professor. He was also a founder of the Howard Poets and publisher of Dasein literary journal.

Life and career[edit]

Johnston was born in New York City, son of a jazz drummer and a concert harpist and grandson of a concert singer. Johnston chose not to pursue a career in music, but the influence of his background can be seen in some of his titles such as Concerto for a Girl and Convertible and “Round about Midnight, Opus# 6.” He was educated in New York CityWashington, DC, and Richmond, Virginia. Before college, Johnston held a number of odd jobs as a florist, a policeman, and a member of the United States Air Force. He attended Howard University where he majored in philosophy and became a founding member of the Howard Poets in 1958. He continued into Howard’s graduate English program, also working as a teaching assistant in that department. Washington, DC, remained Johnston’s home until 1968 when he relocated permanently to New York until his death.[1] Johnston became a philosophy professor at Montclair State University and founded the Afro-American Association of Philosophy. His two scholarly monographs explore black philosophical traditions in literature and other intellectual works.[2] During his later years, Johnston also operated Studio Tangerine, a small theatre in Greenwich Village, where he staged a few of his own and others' plays.[3]

Howard Poets[edit]

The Howard Poets served as Johnston’s vehicle into the world of professional poetry. These writers were a community of young poets enrolled at Howard University between the late 1950s to early 1960s. Though some critics often confuse them with the Dasein poets, who later evolved from this initial group, the eight names most commonly associated with the Howard Poets are: Johnston, Walter DeLegall, Alfred Fraser, Osward Govan, Lance Jeffers, Nathan Richards, Leroy Stone, and Joseph White. Johnston grew to become one of the most widely published poets from this cohort. While students at Howard, they had access to influential intellectuals such as Sterling BrownOwen DodsonJohn Hope FranklinE. Franklin Frazier and Eugene Holmes. Toni Morrison, who at that time was known as Antonia Wofford, a young instructor in the English department, also worked closely with the group and attended some of their functions.[4]
In addition to their engagements with these academic mentors, a shared interest in philosophy also served as an organizing force for the Howard Poets. Johnston’s undergraduate major was in that department, and four of the other members (DeLegall, Fraser, Govan and Stone) were also philosophy minors. These courses exposed these young poets to the various philosophical schools and histories.[5] Writing just before the onset of the Black Arts Movement, the Howard Poets remained distinct from this later generation because of their emphasis on aesthetics over nationalism, which was derived in part perhaps from their training in phenomenologycultural relativism and other philosophical principles. Many of the Howard Poets were also raised during the bebop era and were influenced by the free-form styles of popular jazz musicians.[6]
Against this background, Johnston and Oswald Govan orchestrated a series of poetry readings on Howard’s campus beginning in 1958, and both students and community members enthusiastically received their performances. The writings of the Howard Poets’, as they came to be called, often mingled current civil rights issues with various poetic trends like beat and jazz lyrics. The Howard Poets initially only circulated at events on campus, but they eventually were invited to read at the Library of Congress. The poets also reached an international readership through their inclusion in Rosey Pool’s 1962 European anthology Beyond the Blues: New Poems by American Negroes. The group’s demise began in 1960 when Johnston and Leroy Stone agreed to a solo reading with an on-campus organization, a performance where they did not include nor inform the other Howard Poets. The campus newspaper declared this reading as Johnston’s and Stone’s "professional debut" and their rogue venture created tension within the group. After this engagement, the Howard Poets only appeared together in print.[7]
The Howard Poets’ final project would be Burning Spear: An Anthology of Afro-Saxon Poetry, which Johnston published in 1963 through his new company Jupiter Hammon Press. This anthology was the only printed compilation of the Howard Poets’ work, and Walter DeLegall served as editor. The poets described themselves in this book as “A new breed of young poets who are to American poetry what Charlie ParkerDizzy GillespieThelonious Monk and Miles Davis are to American jazz.”[8]Although the book was not a commercial success, it stands as testament to the Howard Poets’ innovative work and Johnston’s activities as a cultural broker.


Johnston started Jupiter Hammon Press in 1960 after feeling frustrated with the lack of industry attention given to black poets. In 1962, Johnston, who largely funded the operation, and his press first published Dasein, a quarterly journal for African-American artists.[9] The Dasein poets maintained many of the Howard Poets’ trademark themes: addressing civil struggles through poetic form, applying intellectual and philosophical analyses to black nationalisms, drawing inspiration from jazz music. However, this new group expanded its ranks to include other poets such as Dolores KendrickClyde Taylor and William Jackson. One can still see the continued influence of Howard professors through Dasein’s advisory board, which included Sterling Brown, Arthur Davis, Eugene Holmes and Owen Dodson.[10] Johnston was the journal’s primary critic and historian, often publishing historiographies and reviews on changing aesthetics in African American writing.[11] Dasein’s final issue was printed in 1973, and from 1962 until its end, individual members of the Howard Poets slowly ceased to contribute to the journal, though Johnston continued as publisher. By the final issue, the only inclusions from an original member were two poems from Lance Jeffers.[12] Dasein serves as another example of an avant-gardemagazine that provided community and publishing space for poets of the new black arts, and Johnston was critical in sustaining it.
Percy Johnston has been largely overlooked in the major anthologies of African-American poetry over the last two decades, but his work with the Howard Poets, Dasein journal and the Jupiter Hammon Press deserves recognition for the spaces he occupied in artistic and intellectual circles.

A00918 - Wilson Harris, Guyanese Literary Giant

Sir Theodore Wilson Harris (24 March 1921 – 8 March 2018) was a Guyanese writer. He initially wrote poetry, but subsequently became a well-known novelist and essayist. His writing style is often said to be abstract and densely metaphorical, and his subject matter wide-ranging. Harris is considered one of the most original and innovative voices in postwar literature in English.[1]



Wilson Harris was born in New Amsterdam in what was then called British Guiana. After studying at Queen's College in the capital of Guyana, Georgetown, he became a government surveyor, before taking up a career as lecturer and writer. The knowledge of the savannas and rain forests he gained during his time as a surveyor formed the setting for many of his books, with the Guyanese landscape dominating his fiction.
Between 1945 and 1961, Harris was a regular contributor of stories, poems and essays to Kyk-over-Al literary magazine and was part of a group of Guyanese intellectuals that included Martin Carter and Ivan Van Sertima.
Harris came to England in 1959 and published his first novel Palace of the Peacock in 1960. This became the first of a quartet of novels, The Guyana Quartet, which includes The Far Journey of Oudin (1961), The Whole Armour (1962), and The Secret Ladder (1963). He subsequently wrote the Carnival trilogy: Carnival (1985), The Infinite Rehearsal (1987), and The Four Banks of the River of Space (1990).
His most recent novels include Jonestown (1996), which tells of the mass-suicide of followers of cult leader Jim JonesThe Dark Jester (2001), his latest semi-autobiographical novel, The Mask of the Beggar (2003), and The Ghost of Memory (2006).
Harris also writes non-fiction and critical essays and has been awarded honorary doctorates by several universities, including the University of the West Indies (1984) and the University of Liège (2001). He has twice won the Guyana Prize for Literature.
Harris was knighted in June 2010 during the Queen Elizabeth II Birthday Honours.[2][3] In 2014, Sir Wilson Harris won a Lifetime Achievement Prize from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.[4]


Literary critics have stated that although reading Harris's work is challenging, it is rewarding in many ways. Harris has been admired for his exploration of the themes of conquest and colonization as well as the struggles of colonized peoples. Readers have commented that his novels are an attempt to express truths about the way people experience reality through the lens of the imagination. Harris has been faulted for his novels that have often nonlinear plot lines, and for his preference of internal perceptions over external realities.
Critics have described Harris's abstract, experimental narratives as difficult to read, dense, complex, or opaque.[5] Many readers have commented that Harris's essays push the boundaries of traditional literary criticism, and that his fiction pushes the limits of the novel genre itself. Harris's writing has been associated with many different literary genres by critics, including: surrealismmagic realism, mysticism and modernism. Over the years, Harris has used many different concepts to define his literary approach, including: cross-culturalism, modern allegory,[6] epic, and Quantum Fiction. One critic described Harris's fictions as informed by "quantum penetration where Existence and non-existence are both real. You can contemplate them as if both are true."
His writing has been called ambitiously experimental and his narrative structure is described as "multiple and flexible."[7]
Wilson Harris categorized his innovations and literary techniques as quantum fiction.[8][9][10] He uses the definition in The Carnival Trilogy and in the final novel, The Four Banks of the River of Space.
Harris noted in an interview that "in describing the world you see, the language evolves and begins to encompass realities that are not visible".[11] Harris attributed his innovative literary techniques as a development that was the result of being witness to the physical world behaving as quantum theory. To accommodate his new perceptions, Harris said he realized he was writing "quantum fiction".[12]

Literary technique[edit]

The technique of Wilson Harris has been called experimental and innovative. Harris describes that conventional writing is different from his style of writing in that "conventional writing is straightforward writing" and "My writing is quantum writing. Do you know of the quantum bullet? The quantum bullet, when it's fired, leaves not one hole but two."[13]
The use of nonlinear events and metaphor is a substantive component of his prose. Another technique employed by Harris is the combination of words and concepts in unexpected, jarring ways. Through this technique of combination, Harris displays the underlying, linking root that prevents two categories from ever really existing in opposition. The technique exposes and alters the power of language to lock in fixed beliefs and attitudes, "freeing" words and concepts to associate in new ways.
Harris sees language as the key to social and human transformations. His approach begins with a regard of language as a power to both enslave and free. This quest and understanding underlies his narrative fiction themes about human slavery. Harris cites language as both, a crucial element in the subjugation of slaves and indentures, and the means by which the destructive processes of history could be reversed.[14]
In Palace of the Peacock, Harris seeks to expose the illusion of opposites that create enmities between people. A crew on a river expedition experiences a series of tragedies that ultimately bring about each member's death. Along the way, Harris highlights as prime factor in their demise their inability to reconcile binarisms in the world around them and between each other. With his technique of binary breakdowns, and echoing the African tradition of death not bringing the end to a soul, Harris demonstrates that they find reconciliation only in physical death, pointing out the superficiality of illusions of opposites that separated them.[15]


Harris died on 8 March 2018, at his home in Chelmsford, England, of natural causes.[16]


Guyanese Literary Giant Sir Wilson Harris Leaves Behind a ‘Literacy of the Imagination’

The Trinidad and Tobago literary arts booth at Carifesta XI, held in Suriname, which has proudly co-opted Guyanese-born Wilson Harris. His “Carnival Trilogy” is second from the right. Photo by Georgia Popplewell, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Sir Wilson Harris, the innovative Guyanese writer who categorised his work as “quantum fiction”died on March 8, 2018 at his home in England, at the age of 96.
Widely considered to be a pioneering voice in English literature, with a beguiling intellect and masterful grasp of language, Harris began his career in Guyana as a land surveyor. The job took him on jaunts to the country's fascinating interior, where he grew close the indigenous people who lived there. The knowledge they shared with him and the majestic backdrop of the Amazon rainforest would go on to feature in many of his novels. He explained, “I look to create a kind of community that has a literacy of the imagination in it, that can unlock polarisations and fanaticisms that bedevil us.”
Beginning in the mid 1940s, Harris’ poetry was published — alongside that of other important poets like Martin Carter — in Kyk-Over-Al, one of the region's definitive publications of the post-World War II era. Harris soon transitioned his metaphorical skill to other literary genres, expanding his writing to include essays and novels.
Perhaps Harris’ best known titles include his “Guyana Quartet” — “Palace of the Peacock” (1960), “The Far Journey of Oudin” (1961), “The Whole Armour” (1962) and “The Secret Ladder” (1963) — landmark post-colonial work that experiments with mythology, time and space.
He also penned the “Carnival Trilogy” — “Carnival” (1985), “The Infinite Rehearsal” (1987), and “The Four Banks of the River of Space” (1990) — Carnival-themed re-imaginings of Dante’s “Paradiso”, Goethe’s “Faust”, and Homer’s “Odyssey”, quite fitting given the festival's rebellious beginnings which mimicked colonial traditions and gave them its own spin.
In 1993, Harris authored “Resurrection at Sorrow Hill”, which talks about the surveillance carried out by mental asylums on their charges, and which he cleverly juxtaposes against the insanity of real life. On the heels of this novel came “Jonestown” (1996), which delves into the mass-suicide and murder of the followers of cult leader Jim Jones. Such themes could be interpreted as ripple effects of colonialism — Harris never stopped investigating the modern-day structures that continued to enforce similar types of control. Harris’ last novel was “The Ghost of Memory”, which was published in 2006.
As news of his death broke, tributes poured in on social media, with bibliophiles thanking Harris for taking them on journeys of imagination:

Many noted that despite the fact that his books could be “difficult” reads, they were well worth it:

“Difficult” often denotes a radical break with the syntax and grammar of market-driven, neo-colonial narrative.

On Facebook, Annan Boodram called Harris a “giant”, saying:
[…] As a teenager I struggled to understand his writings because they were so nuanced, so layered, so connotative, so associative and so symbolic.
One Facebook user called Harris “an extraordinary, inimitable visionary”, Barbadian Annalee Davis noted that “the Caribbean and the UK have lost one of their finest writers”, and while young Guyanese writer Ruel Johnson “never bought into the legend of Harris’ work”, he “begrudgingly concede[d] that the legend was not unwarranted”.
Meanwhile, Gerardo Manuel Polanco shared:
I will forever be indebted to Wilson Harris. I owe my academic career to him. He was the cornerstone, the foundation of my Graduate thesis. I used his ideas, essays, and novels in every other paragraph I wrote. The indigenous people of the Caribbean, the landscape, alternative modes of worship like Voodoo, and native myth were revived and given new meaning because of him. He changed the way Caribbean literature is written and read. Rest in power, Sir Harris, an entire region will forever mourn and celebrate you.
Yet, some contended that Harris was not given his due within the Caribbean. In 2014, there was a Twitter debate over who that year's Nobel Laureate in Literature should be, and one fan suggested it should to go a “visionary” like Harris, especially because he was “up there in yrs & you cannot win a posthumous @Nobelprize_org Prize.” But while Harris was honoured during his lifetime — including winning the Guyana Prize for Literature on two separate occasions and being knighted in 2010 — the Nobel was not to be.
On a public Facebook thread, Trinidad-based writer and librarian Debbie Jacob mused:
He never received the recognition he deserved. I loved his work and his theory of fossil memories.
Michelene Adams added:
Way ahead of his time. He made my students quake but I insisted on including palace in my Caribbean Prose course
Facebook user Frank Anthony was grateful for Harris’ “tremendous contribution to Guyanese literature” and from the United States, Louis Chude-Sokei wrote:
Very few thinkers have had an influence on me as great as his. He is one of the most innovative and radical writers and thinkers (in his style and in his approach to politics) of the last two centuries. The very idea that in all oppositions and differences we can find a ‘half blind groping’ towards new modes of community or being or art that can devour and reinvent those oppositions and differences…that's where everything I do started to make sense.
RIP, Sir Wilson. Thanks for the incredible and exhausting novels (though clearly all of them were mere iterations of one long densely poetic vision). […]
Harris, who once said that “only a dialogue with the past can produce originality”, has left behind a body of work that will no doubt bequeath that legacy onto younger writers, some of whom weighed in on his passing.
In the words of Facebook user Subraj Akash Singh:
Saddened to hear of the passing of one of the greatest Caribbean writers who ever lived… ‘Palace of the Peacock’ changed my life because it changed my mind about what a novel could be. Harris has died, but his oeuvre will certainly live on forever.