At a time of ever-increasing Black awareness, the importance of men and women who have been influential in the forward movement of Black people must become an integral part of American history. Alphaeus Hunton, in the opinion of many, was such a person.
During 17 years as assistant professor of English at Howard University, he became actively involved on many fronts, identifying with the plight of the working class and seeing no contradiction between his scholarly pursuits and their deplorable conditions. It was the law of his life to give himself unstintingly. He resigned his post in 1943 to become Educational Director and subsequently Executive Secretary of the Council on African Affairs, the most important American organization in the ’40s and ’50s that dealt with the real issues in Africa. For refusing to reveal the names of the contributors to the Civil Rights Bail Fund, he served six months in prison. McCarthy harassment caused the Council to dissolve in 1955, and Dr. Hunton’s Decision in Africa was published in 1957, updated in 1960, and continues to be read by scholars and students in several languages.
The Huntons went to Guinea in 1960 at the invitation of the Guinean government, then Ghana, where he worked for five years on the Encyclopedia Africana, which Dr. Du Bois initiated. Deported after the coup which ousted President Kwame Nkrumah, he settled in Zambia where he did research on the history of Zambia’s nationalist movements for President Kenneth Kaunda. His body lies under Zambian soil.