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J. A. Rogers

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J. A. Rogers is a Top 100 AALBC.com Bestselling Author Making Our List 47 Times

Joel Augustus Rogers (September 6, 1880, or 1883 – March 26, 1966) was a Jamaican author, journalist, and historian who contributed to the history of Africa and the African diaspora, especially the history of African Americans in the United States. His research spanned the academic fields of history, sociology, and anthropology. He challenged prevailing ideas about race, demonstrated the connections between civilizations, and traced African achievements.

Rogers was a self-educated man, by and large. According to his wife, his father was a schoolteacher and a Methodist minister in Jamaica, before becoming the manager of “a large plantation.” Joel Rogers served in the British army in the Royal Garrison Artillery in Port Royal, Jamaica, then migrated to the United States in 1906. According to his biographer, Thabiti Asukile, he enrolled in the Chicago Art Institute in 1909, supporting himself as a Pullman porter during the summers between 1909 and 1919. In 1921, Rogers moved to Harlem, met and became friends with both Hubert Harrison, the West Indian radical activist and writer, and the African-American journalist and novelist George S. Schuyler.

Rogers was soon launched on a path that would make him one of the leading black journalists of his generation. Rogers wrote regularly for the Pittsburgh Courier, the New York Amsterdam News, and the Chicago Defender, and he contributed several important essays to A. Philip Randolph’s radical-socialist Messenger Magazine during the Harlem Renaissance. The triumph of his career as a journalist, without a doubt, was his coverage of events in Ethiopia. The Courier sent Rogers — the only African-American journalist on the ground — there to cover the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, including an interview with Emperor Haile Selassie, whose coronation Rogers had also attended in 1930.

Rogers' first book From Superman to Man, self-published in 1917, attacked notions of African inferiority.

Joel Augustus Rogers died on March 26, 1966 in New York City.

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Printed: January 21, 2018, 8:55 am
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