african american wizards

The Allegiance Academy: Gaudete et vinculae tua!

Of all of the prestigious schools of American wizardry, there are none with such a rebellious and turbulent history as the Allegiance Academy. Originally founded to host and protect black wizards and witches over the course of their education, the Allegiance Academy stands as a stony sentinel off the shores of Georgia. Built around the ruins of the pirated slave-ship Allegiance, the school was founded by four of the most powerful, and some detractors would say volatile mages of the 19th century: “Mother” Irma Cove, Tulia and Tybalt Le Loup, and the ever eccentric Catherine Valentine.

Though forgotten in muggle history books, the four founders of the Allegiance Academy were prominent leaders in the Underground Railroad.Tulia, Tybalt and Irma had all started their lives as slaves (Irma having actually be the muggle-born daughter of Madame Valentine’s personal servant) and while they came to their magic through separate routes, they nonetheless dedicated their lives to the salvation of other black men and women kept in bondage.

Of especial interest to them were those poor children born into slavery who possessed magical talent. Such children, either muggle-born or conceived from the rape of a muggle mother by her wizarding owner, had an especially precarious place in society. Those whites who believed blacks were even capable of magic did not believe they deserved it, and saw wizards and witches amongst the slaves as grave dangers. Those allowed to live past their first manifestation of magic were usually kept ignorant of their powers, and kept bound by unbreakable vows that reduced them below even the roughest muggle. A slave so bound had not freedom, and was forced to always speak the truth and report dangers of their masters. Many a potential revolt was defused by a slave forced to betray their fellows, despite their best attempts to disobey. Shunned by both sides, such wizards and witches often gave in to despair.

The founders of the Allegiance Academy worked hard to find these children before their masters did, and abscond with them before such bindings could be put in place. But as time went on, and the number of free children with magical talent grew, the founders realized their was a problem. It would be more than 100 years before the Randolph-Peyton Institute would be forced to accept black students, and while the Salem Institute was more sympathetic, it was none the less the type of sympathy they preferred to keep at one removed. Even free-born blacks in the north had a higher bar to meet to obtain a place in New England’s prestigious academy than their white counterparts. Valentine did what she could to place the children in friendly homes, and those who seemed in control of their powers were allowed to stay with their families, but there was always a chance that such a child, under the stress of flight to the north, would loose control of their magic and expose the whole party. 

So Irma Cove hatched a daring scheme. Taking a party of trusted allies, she boarded the muggle slave-ship, The Allegiance, and quelled the crew through magic. As she charted their course due south, Tybalt and Tulia ran ahead of them, in the form of hawk and wolf, and gathered all of the wizarding children they’d freed from slavery. On the way south the Allegiance took on these children, and bore them down to a small island off the coast of Georgia. Located east of the St. Andrew Sound a stretch of water charmingly referred to as “The Hole,” this island had long been shunned as a cursed and haunted place by muggles and wizard alike.

Using their magic the wizards set the ship on the center of the island, and around it they raised their school. Tybalt Le Loup, master of transfiguration, spent the next five years shifting the stones of the island around the pirated ship until the fortresslike edifice of the Allegiance Academy stood strong and broad against the southern horizon. Its defenses were potent and varied. Not only was it protected by its thick walls, powerful wardings, and obscure African sorcery (taught to Tybalt and Tulia by their uncle, the famous Le Loup), the school also and four massive cannons liberated by Irma shortly before the Civil War, and a host of tamed sharks (said to be the transfigured slavers that once crewed the Allegiance).

Shortly after its founding, the Allegiance Academy became the first and only school to technically be at war with the American Wizarding Confederation. For more than half a century, from its founding in 1839 until its official recognition in 1901, the school was a rogue organization under siege, and a polarizing point in the politics of the mainland. Today the Allegiance Academy is a strong contender for greatness, easily challenging RPI and SI for national recognition and prestige. It maintains its looming presence, and at its heart the slave ship remains, complete with iron chains and billowing sails: a constant reminder to its students, lest they forget the history of oppression and struggle that forged their proud alma mater.

Despite its apparent gloom and doom, the Allegiance Academy remains a place of safety and comfort to its students, and all those who remain oppressed.

I want you to take a good look at this picture and note the three people of color in the foreground. See them? Good. That is Madam President Seraphina Picquery of MACUSA and two of her Aurors. No, none of them are particularly dark skinned but I think there is a logical reason for that: the insulation and eventual segregation of the wizarding and non-magical communities.

Wizard kind in America, while undoubtedly more progressive on race relations, and not really concerned with blood purity as such, did stick to their own magical kind. Native American wizards welcomed European wizards, likewise I think they would provide a safe refuge for magical slaves and immigrants. Would there even be African wizards transported in the slave trade? The two possibilities for that are horrible to think about, either there were magical slave masters or they took young orphans with no one to protect them. Or it could be that the majority of the African-American wizarding population came from Muggleborns whose magical had laid dormant for many generations. Regardless they would have been welcomed into the fold and joined with European, Native American, Latin American and eventually Asian American wizards and intermarried.

JKR mentions four famous wand makers in her History of Magic in North America. One of them is a Native American, one of them is Latin American, one of them is African African American and the other is a European American immigrant. Seraphina Picquery, an exceptionally talented witch from Savannah, is mentioned multiple times throughout the essays of Pottermore. She is trying guys.

No perhaps there are not people of color walking the streets of New York in the background of the film. It could have to do with the neighborhoods they are in, it could be the fault of the casting of extras or it could have nothing to do with the story. The half a dozen instances we see No-Majs in the film are with the Second Salemers (white, let’s face it religious zealots), inside a large bank, in side the offices of a prominent newspaper, the police force and at the very end going to a canning factory. Except for the last those are all scenes of white authority.

No we do not get to see any evidence of The Harlem Renaissance happening at this time, because we are too busy visiting a goblin run speakeasy and chasing beasts through the zoo at night. I’m not trying to make excuses, I’m just asking you to think critically and not pass judgement on a fictional film before seeing it. Yes Black Lives Matter, yes representation matters and yes they could have done better with the casting. Almost every film could do better. But damnit she is trying. A woman of color is President of the Magical Congress of the United States of America in 1926 and a woman of color is Minister for Magic in 2017. Please stop demonizing the author and creator of the fictional world you claim to love. Thank you.