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Carlos Moore

Carlos Moore was born in Cuba of Jamaican parents. Because his parents spoke English at home, he learned English even though Spanish was his first language. His mother also taught him to read and write English. He left Cuba in 1957, when he was 15, to join his stepfather in New York City.

Back in Cuba, Moore found elements of the racism he’d known before he left Cuba. Considering himself part of the movement, he argued for the party to address the racial question as part of its revolutionary program. Eventually declared an enemy of the people, Moore took refuge in the Guinean embassy which eventually got him on a Yugoslavian ship to Egypt. After a short, disillusioning time in Egypt, he was able to arrange for safe passage to France. In Paris he continued his formal education, married, and his son was born. In 1974 he arrived in Nigeria, whence began another type of education altogether. There, in the deepest possible sense, he began to become a Pan-African. He also began his world-wide odyssey and an odyssey of the mind which continues to this day.

Carlos Moore was born and raised in Cuba. He is a writer, researcher, social scientist, and activist, with two doctorates from the University of Paris. He is dedicated to the study, the dissemination of information, and the vindication of people of African descent throughout the continent and the diaspora. He has lived in Cuba, the United States, Egypt, Nigeria, France, Senegal, Jamaica, New Guinea, Guadaloupe, and for the last fifteen years he has resided in Brazil. He writes extensively in four languages: Spanish, French, English, and Portuguese. His memoir, Pichon: Race and Revolution in Castro’s Cuba, is a fascinating reconstruction of the fluidity and dynamism engulfing the African world over the last fifty-three years, from a witness to it all over the globe, who has himself helped to shape it.

Biographical Information

Carlos Moore was born in Cuba, in 1942. At birth his name was Charles Moore Wedderburn, indicating the Jamaican origins of his mother and adoptive father. His mother’s name was Winifred Rebecca Wedderburn. His adoptive father’s name was Victor Theodore Moore. His biological father was Whitfield “Trinidad” Dacosta Marshall. His biological father was from Barbados. Carlos did not learn until he was 39 that his adoptive father was not his biological father. His mother told him that at the same time she told him who his biological father was. Both men were then dead. As a child, Carlos indicated that his first name was “Carlos” rather than “Charles” in order to prevent the other children from labeling him as a foreigner.

He lived a deeply troubled childhood in an extremely impoverished and racist rural area of Cuba. He saw his move to New York to join his father as a great escape. Then the Cuban Revolution came. He wanted to return to Cuba. He had already been radicalized by his life in NYC and had discovered Marxism on his own. He was also heavily influenced by the Black movement in the U.S., including Malcolm X.

Back in Cuba, his family was an integral part of the Revolution and the Communist party. Carlos had an upward career trajectory in the new society. His disagreements with the way the Party was addressing racism put him at odds with elements within the leadership. He became a person non-grata, was imprisoned and rehabilitated, but in fear for his life, sought asylum in the Guinean embassy, and eventually fled the country with Guinean support.

This marked a period of Moore’s life which can be best characterized as nomadic. He was, however a decidedly unusual kind of nomad, not wandering from a winter feeding ground to a summer one. Not following herds a grazing animals across a vast steppe. Not even moving from country to country, but from continent to continent, across the whole globe. In his travels he met, befriended, and worked with some of the foremost figures of the modern era. We may name among them Maya Angelou, Malcom X, Harold Cruse, Immamu Amiri Baraka, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln; Fidel Castro, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Aime’ Cesaire, Rex Nettleford, John Henrik Clarke, Abdias do Nascimento, Mari Evans, Lelia Gonzalez, Ruth Simms Hamilton, Robert Williams. Moore was mentored by Cheikh Anta Diop, encouraged by Alex Haley, Kwame Ture, and Iva Carruthers. He received support from such varied people as Charles Rangel, Luiza Bairros, Miriam Makeba, Claudia Mitchell-Kernan, and Julius Nyerere.

It was that nomadic existence which put him in the world of Fela Kuti. Moore’s biography has broadened Fela’s impact on the world through the Broadway production of Fela, based on Moore’s text. The biography itself has become an international phenomenon.

In Brazil, he has been a major force in the development of African and Afro-Brazilian courses and curricula through his books, articles, speeches, and lectures throughout the country. He has mentored many Afro-Brazilians who are emerging as potent leaders of the country’s largest population group.

Carlos Moore’s first wife, Shawna, was from the U.S. They met and married in Paris. They had one son together, Kimathi. He married his second wife, Aeyola, in her birthplace, Guadeloupe, in 1992. They live together in the city of Salvador, in the state of Bahia, Brazil.

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