For more than half a century before World War II, black South Africans and “American Negroes”—a group that included African Americans and black West Indians—established close institutional and personal relationships that laid the necessary groundwork for the successful South African and American antiapartheid movements. Though African Americans suffered under Jim Crow racial discrimination, oppressed Africans saw African Americans as free people who had risen from slavery to success and were role models and potential liberators.
Many African Americans, regarded initially by the South African government as “honorary whites” exempt from segregation, also saw their activities in South Africa as a divinely ordained mission to establish “Africa for Africans,” liberated from European empires. The Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, the largest black-led movement with two million members and supporters in forty-three countries at its height in the early 1920s, was the most anticipated source of liberation. Though these liberation prophecies went unfulfilled, black South Africans continued to view African Americans as inspirational models and as critical partners in the global antiapartheid struggle.
The Americans Are Coming! is a rare case study that places African history and American history in a global context and centers Africa in African Diaspora studies.
In Black Empire, Michelle Ann Stephens examines the ideal of “transnational blackness” that emerged in the work of radical black intellectuals from the British West Indies in the early twentieth century. Focusing on the writings of Marcus Garvey, Claude McKay, and C. L. R. James, Stephens shows how these thinkers developed ideas of a worldwide racial movement and federated global black political community that transcended the boundaries of nation-states. Stephens highlights key geopolitical and historical events that gave rise to these writers’ intellectual investment in new modes of black political self-determination. She describes their engagement with the fate of African Americans within the burgeoning U.S. empire, their disillusionment with the potential of post–World War I international organizations such as the League of Nations to acknowledge, let alone improve, the material conditions of people of color around the world, and the inspiration they took from the Bolshevik Revolution, which offered models of revolution and community not based on nationality.
Stephens argues that the global black political consciousness she identifies was constituted by both radical and reactionary impulses. On the one hand, Garvey, McKay, and James saw freedom of movement as the basis of black transnationalism. The Caribbean archipelago—a geographic space ideally suited to the free movement of black subjects across national boundaries—became the metaphoric heart of their vision. On the other hand, these three writers were deeply influenced by the ideas of militarism, empire, and male sovereignty that shaped global political discourse in the early twentieth century. As such, their vision of transnational blackness excluded women’s political subjectivities. Drawing together insights from American, African American, Caribbean, and gender studies, Black Empire is a major contribution to ongoing conversations about nation and diaspora.
Exploring the role of rhetoric in African American identity and political discourse
Dexter B. Gordon’ s Black Identity: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Nineteenth-Century Black Nationalism explores the problem of racial alienation and the importance of rhetoric in the formation of black identity in the United States. Faced with alienation and disenfranchisement as a part of their daily experience, African Americans developed collective practices of empowerment that cohere as a constitutive rhetoric of black ideology. Exploring the origins of that rhetoric, Gordon reveals how the ideology of black nationalism functions in contemporary African American political discourse.
Rooting his study in the words and works of nineteenth-century black abolitionists such as Maria Stewart, David Walker, and Henry Garnet, Gordon explores the rapprochement between rhetorical theory, race, alienation, and the role of public memory in identity formation. He argues that abolitionists used language in their speeches, pamphlets, letters, petitions, and broadsides that established black identity in ways that would foster liberation and empowerment. The arguments presented here constitute the only sustained treatment of nineteenth-century black activists from a rhetorical perspective.
Gordon demonstrates the pivotal role of rhetoric in African American efforts to create a viable public voice. Understanding nineteenth-century black alienation— and its intersection with twentieth-century racism— is crucial to understanding the continued sense of alienation that African Americans express about their American experience. Gordon explains how the ideology of black nationalism disciplines and describes African American life for its own ends, exposing a central piece of the ideological struggle for the soul of America. The book is both a platform for further discussion and an invitation for more voices to join the discourse as we search for ways to comprehend the sense of alienation experienced and expressed by African Americans in contemporary society.
From nineteenth-century black nationalist writer Martin Delany through the rise of Jim Crow, the 1937 riots in Trinidad, and the achievement of Independence in the West Indies, up to the present era of globalization, Black Nationalism in the New World explores the paths taken by black nationalism in the United States and the Caribbean. Bringing to bear a comparative, diasporic perspective, Robert Carr examines the complex roles race, gender, sexuality, and history have played in the formation of black national identities in the U. S. and Caribbean—particularly in Jamaica, Trinidad, and Guyana—over the past two centuries. He shows how nationalism begins as an impulse emanating "upwards" from the bottom of the social and economic spectrum and discusses the implications of this phenomenon for understanding democracy and nationalism.
Black Nationalism in the New World combines geography, political economy, and subaltern studies in readings of noncanonical literary works, which in turn illuminate debates over African-American and West Indian culture, identity, and politics. In addition to Martin Delany’s Blake, or the Huts of America, Carr focuses on Pauline Hopkins’s Contending Forces; Crown Jewel, R. A. C. de Boissière’s novel of the Trinidadian revolt against British rule; Wilson Harris’s Guyana Quartet; the writings of the Oakland Black Panthers—particularly Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver; the gay novella Just Being Guys Together; and Lionheart Gal, a collection of patois testimonials assembled by Sistren, a radical Jamaican women’s theater group active in the ‘80s.
With its comparative approach, broad historical sweep, and use of texts not well known in the United States, Black Nationalism in the New World extends the work of such theorists as Homi Bhabha, Paul Gilroy, and Nell Irwin Painter. It will be necessary reading for those interested in African American studies, Caribbean studies, cultural studies, women’s studies, and American studies.
A 2008 cover of The New Yorker featured a much-discussed Black Power parody of Michelle and Barack Obama. The image put a spotlight on how easy it is to flatten the Black Power movement as we imagine new types of blackness. Margo Natalie Crawford argues that we have misread the Black Arts Movement's call for blackness. We have failed to see the movement's anticipation of the "new black" and "post-black." Black Post-Blackness compares the black avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s Black Arts Movement with the most innovative spins of twenty-first century black aesthetics. Crawford zooms in on the 1970s second wave of the Black Arts Movement and shows the connections between this final wave of the Black Arts movement and the early years of twenty-first century black aesthetics. She uncovers the circle of black post-blackness that pivots on the power of anticipation, abstraction, mixed media, the global South, satire, public interiority, and the fantastic.
This stunning book represents the most comprehensive analysis to date of the complex relationships between black political thought and black political identity and behavior. Ranging from Frederick Douglass to rap artist Ice Cube, Michael C. Dawson brilliantly illuminates the history and current role of black political thought in shaping political debate in America.
John Edward Bruce (1856–1924) witnessed the dying days of American slavery, the turbulence of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow, and the development of American imperialism. As a journalist, historian, and bibliophile, he was a major figure in African American history and politics during his lifetime. In this first intellectual biography of Bruce—a prolific writer and correspondent who published most frequently under the name Bruce Grit—William Seraile explores Bruce’s tireless advocacy on behalf of African peoples everywhere, particularly in the United States.
Bruce wrote for more than a hundred different newspapers and founded several of them, including the Argus, the Sunday Item, and Washington Grit in Washington, D.C., and the Weekly Standard in Yonkers, New York. A cultural nationalist and Pan-Africanist, Bruce was known as a race-first proponent. In his quest to see that African Americans were granted full political and civil rights, he championed the contributions of African civilization to western culture as a whole, amassing an impressive collection of books, articles, and other scholarly documentation. For most of his career, he believed that African Americans would eventually be able to claim an equal share of the American Dream. However, by the end of his life, he became disillusioned and concluded that the best hope for their future lay in emigration back to Africa.
Seraile traces Bruce’s shifting strategies and tactics and his alliances with famous contemporaries such as Arthur A. Schomburg, Carter G. Woodson, Booker T. Washington, and Marcus Garvey. He argues that underlying all of Bruce’s work was what would become his greatest legacy: his promotion of history and culture of African people in the diaspora as valuable fields of study.
The Author: William Seraile is professor of black studies at Lehman College. He is the author of Voice of Dissent: Theophilus Gould Steward and Black America, Fire in His Heart: Bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner and the A.M.E. Church, and New York’s Black Regiments During the Civil War.
As both an activist and the dynamic editor of Negro Digest, Hoyt W. Fuller stood at the nexus of the Black Arts Movement and the broader black cultural politics of his time. Jonathan Fenderson uses historical snapshots of Fuller's life and achievements to rethink the period and establish Fuller's important role in laying the foundation for the movement. In telling Fuller's story, Fenderson provides provocative new insights into the movement's international dimensions, the ways the movement took shape at the local level, the impact of race and other factors, and the challenges--corporate, political, and personal--that Fuller and others faced in trying to build black institutions. An innovative study that approaches the movement from a historical perspective, Building the Black Arts Movement is a much-needed reassessment of the trajectory of African American culture over two explosive decades.
In this provocative book, a black lesbian feminist looks at black feminism -- its roots, its role, and its implications. From Charles Darwin and nineteenth-century racism to black nationalism and the Nation of Islam, from Baptist women's groups to James Baldwin, E. Frances White takes on one institution after another as she re-centers the role of black women in the United States' intellectual heritage. White presents identity politics as a complex activity, with entangled branches of race and gender, of invisibility and voyeurism, of defiance and passivity and conformism.
White's powerful introduction draws on oral narratives from her own family history to illuminate the nature of narrative, both what is said and what is left unsaid. She then sets the historical stage with a helpful history of the inception and development of black feminism and a critique of major black feminist writings. In the three chapters that follow, she addresses the obstacles black feminism has already surmounted and must continue to traverse. Confronting what White calls "the politics of respectability," these chapters move the reader from simplistic views of race and gender in the nineteenth century through black nationalism and the radical movements of the sixties, and their relationship to feminist thought, to the linkages between race, gender, and sexuality in the works of such giants as Toni Morrison and James Baldwin. No one who finishes Dark Continent of Our Bodies will look at race and gender in the same way again.
In the early 1980s the radical group MOVE settled into a rowhouse in a predominantly African-American neighborhood of west Philadelphia, beginning years of confrontations with neighbors and police over its anti-establishment ways and militant stance against all social and political institutions. On May 13, 1985, following a period of increased MOVE activity and threats by neighbors to take matters into their own hands, the city moved from bureaucratic involvement to violent intervention. Police bullhorned arrest warrants, hosed down the rowhouse, sprayed tear gas through its walls, and dropped explosives from a helicopter. By the end of the day, eleven MOVE members were dead, an entire block of the neighborhood was destroyed, and Mayor Wilson Goode was calling for an investigation.
How did this struggle between the city and MOVE go from memos and meetings to tear gas and bombs? And how does the mandate to defend public order become a destructive force? Sifting through the hearings that followed the deadly encounter, Robin Wagner-Pacifici reconstructs the conflict between MOVE and the city of Philadelphia. Against this richly nuanced account, in which the participants—from the mayor and the police officers to members of MOVE and their neighbors—offer opposing versions of their aims, assumptions, and strategies, Wagner-Pacifici develops a compelling analysis of the relation between definition and action, between language and violence.
Was MOVE simply a radical, black separatist group with an alternative way of life? Or was it a terrorist cult that held a neighborhood and politicians hostage to its offensive language and bizarre behavior? Wagner-Pacifici shows how competing definitions of MOVE led to different strategies for managing the conflict. In light of the shockingly similar, and even more deadly, 1993 Branch Davidian disaster in Waco, Texas, such an analysis becomes imperative. Indeed, for those who hope to understand—and, finally, to forestall—the moment when language and violence are inexorably drawn together, this book demands attention.
Distinguished by its multidisciplinary dexterity, this book is a masterfully woven reinterpretation of the life, travels, and scholarship of Edward W. Blyden, arguably the most influential Black intellectual of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It traces Blyden’s various moments of intellectual transformation through the multiple lenses of ethnicity, race, religion, and identity in the historical context of Atlantic exchanges, the Back-to-Africa movement, colonialism, and the global Black intellectual movement. In this book Blyden is shown as an African public intellectual who sought to reshape ideas about Africa circulating in the Atlantic world. The author also highlights Blyden’s contributions to different public spheres in Europe, in the Jewish Diaspora, in the Muslim and Christian world of West Africa, and among Blacks in the United States. Additionally, this book places Blyden at the pinnacle of Afropublicanism in order to emphasize his public intellectualism, his rootedness in the African historical experience, and the scholarship he produced about Africa and the African Diaspora. As Blyden is an important contributor to African studies, among other disciplines, this volume makes for critical scholarly reading.
The End of White World Supremacy explores a complex issue—integration of Blacks into White America—from multiple perspectives: within the United States, globally, and in the context of movements for social justice. Rod Bush locates himself within a tradition of African American activism that goes back at least to W.E.B. Du Bois. In so doing, he communicates between two literatures—world systems analysis and radical Black social movement history—and sustains the dialogue throughout the book.
Bush explains how racial troubles in the U.S. are symptomatic of the troubled relationship between the white and dark worlds globally. Beginning with an account of white European dominance leading to capitalist dominance by White America, The Endof White World Supremacy ultimately wonders whether, as Myrdal argued in the 1940s, the American creed can provide a pathway to break this historical conundrum and give birth to international social justice.
No other story in the Bible has fired the imaginations of African Americans quite like that of Exodus. Its tale of suffering and the journey to redemption offered hope and a sense of possibility to people facing seemingly insurmountable evil.
Exodus! shows how this biblical story inspired a pragmatic tradition of racial advocacy among African Americans in the early nineteenth century—a tradition based not on race but on a moral politics of respectability. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., begins by comparing the historical uses of Exodus by black and white Americans and the concepts of "nation" it generated. He then traces the roles that Exodus played in the National Negro Convention movement, from its first meeting in 1830 to 1843, when the convention decided—by one vote—against supporting Henry Highland Garnet's call for slave insurrection.
Exodus! reveals the deep historical roots of debates over African-American national identity that continue to rage today. It will engage anyone interested in the story of black nationalism and the promise of African-American religious culture.
"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." Like all of Steve Biko's writings, those words testify to the passion, courage, and keen insight that made him one of the most powerful figures in South Africa's struggle against apartheid. They also reflect his conviction that black people in South Africa could not be liberated until they united to break their chains of servitude, a key tenet of the Black Consciousness movement that he helped found.
I Write What I Like contains a selection of Biko's writings from 1969, when he became the president of the South African Students' Organization, to 1972, when he was prohibited from publishing. The collection also includes a preface by Archbishop Desmond Tutu; an introduction by Malusi and Thoko Mpumlwana, who were both involved with Biko in the Black Consciousness movement; a memoir of Biko by Father Aelred Stubbs, his longtime pastor and friend; and a new foreword by Professor Lewis Gordon.
Biko's writings will inspire and educate anyone concerned with issues of racism, postcolonialism, and black nationalism.
Integration or Separation?
Roy L. BROOKS Harvard University Press, 1996 Library of Congress E185.615.B729 1996 | Dewey Decimal 323.1196073
Integrated in principle, segregated in fact: is this the legacy of fifty years of "progress" in American racial policy? Is there hope for much better? Roy L. Brooks, a distinguished professor of law and a writer on matters of race and civil rights, says with frank clarity what few will admit--integration hasn't worked and possibly never will. Equally, he casts doubt on the solution that many African-Americans and mainstream whites have advocated: total separation of the races. This book presents Brooks's strategy for a middle way between the increasingly unworkable extremes of integration and separation.
Limited separation, the approach Brooks proposes, shifts the focus of civil rights policy from the group to the individual. Defined as cultural and economic integration within African-American society, this policy would promote separate schooling, housing, and business enterprises where needed to bolster the self-sufficiency of the community, without trammeling the racial interests of individuals inside or outside of the group, and without endangering the idea of a shared Americanness. But all the while Brooks envisions African-American public schools, businesses, and communities redesigned to serve the enlightened self-interest of the individual. Unwilling to give up entirely on racial integration, he argues that limited separation may indeed lead to improved race relations and, ultimately, to healthy integration.
This book appears at a crucial time, as Republicans dismantle past civil rights policies and Democrats search for new ones. With its alternative strategy and useful policy ideas for bringing individual African-Americans into mainstream society as first-class citizens, Integration or Separation? should influence debate and policymaking across the spectra of race, class, and political persuasion.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Black Power movement provided the dominant ideological framework through which many young, poor, and middle-class blacks made sense of their lives and articulated a political vision for their futures. The legacy of the movement is still very much with us today in the various strands of black nationalism that originated from it; we witnessed its power in the 1995 Million Man March, and we see its more ambiguous effects in the persistent antagonisms among former participants in the civil rights coalition. Yet despite the importance of the Black Power movement, very few in-depth, balanced treatments of it exist.
Is It Nation Time? gathers new and classic essays on the Black Power movement and its legacy by renowned thinkers who deal rigorously and unsentimentally with such issues as the commodification of blackness, the piety of cultural recovery, and class tensions within the movement. For anyone who wants to understand the roots of the complex political and cultural desires of contemporary black America, this will be an essential collection.
Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
Farah Jasmine Griffin
Phillip Brian Harper
Robin D. G. Kelley
Adolph Reed Jr.
S. Craig Watkins
E. Francis White
Jazz Internationalism offers a bold reconsideration of jazz's influence in Afro-modernist literature. Ranging from the New Negro Renaissance through the social movements of the 1960s, John Lowney articulates nothing less than a new history of Afro-modernist jazz writing. Jazz added immeasurably to the vocabulary for discussing radical internationalism and black modernism in leftist African American literature. Lowney examines how Claude McKay, Ann Petry, Langston Hughes, and many other writers employed jazz as both a critical social discourse and mode of artistic expression to explore the possibilities ”and challenges ”of black internationalism. The result is an expansive understanding of jazz writing sure to spur new debates.
“No nation can win a battle without faith,” Steve Biko wrote, and as Daniel R. Magaziner demonstrates in The Law and the Prophets, the combination of ideological and theological exploration proved a potent force.
The 1970s are a decade virtually lost to South African historiography. This span of years bridged the banning and exile of the country’s best-known antiapartheid leaders in the early 1960s and the furious protests that erupted after the Soweto uprisings of June 16, 1976. Scholars thus know that something happened—yet they have only recently begun to explore how and why.
The Law and the Prophets is an intellectual history of the resistance movement between 1968 and 1977; it follows the formation, early trials, and ultimate dissolution of the Black Consciousness movement. It differs from previous antiapartheid historiography, however, in that it focuses more on ideas than on people and organizations. Its singular contribution is an exploration of the theological turn that South African politics took during this time. Magaziner argues that only by understanding how ideas about race, faith, and selfhood developed and were transformed in this period might we begin to understand the dramatic changes that took place.
In 1985, police bombed the Philadelphia community occupied by members of the black counterculture group MOVE (short for “The Movement”). What began fifteen years earlier as a neighborhood squabble provoked by conflicting lifestyles ended in the destruction of sixty-one homes and the death of eleven residents - five of them children. Some 250 people were left homeless.
Was this tragedy the only solution to the conflict? Were John Africa and his morally and ecologically idealistic followers “too crazy” to negotiate with?
The authors interviewed MOVE members and their neighbors, third-party intervenors, and representatives of the Philadelpia administration in the 1970s, and draw on their own knowledge of the field of dispute resolution. More than simply describing a terrible event, they examine the dynamics of conflict, analyzing attempts at third-party mediation and the possibility of resolution without violence. Their analytical approach provides insight into other major conflicts, such as the problems of perception and misperception in U.S. - Iranian relations.
In an age when terrorism and hostage-taking are regular features on the six o’clock news, their questioning of traditional views on negotiation with “irrational” adversaries is especially important.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Steven Hahn's provocative new book challenges deep-rooted views in the writing of American and African-American history. Moving from slave emancipations of the eighteenth century through slave activity during the Civil War and on to the black power movements of the twentieth century, he asks us to rethink African-American history and politics in bolder, more dynamic terms. Throughout, Hahn presents African Americans as central actors in the arenas of American politics, while emphasizing traditions of self-determination, self-governance, and self-defense.
Radical Aesthetics and Modern Black Nationalism explores the long-overlooked links between black nationalist activism and the renaissance of artistic experimentation emerging from recent African American literature, visual art, and film. GerShun Avilez charts a new genealogy of contemporary African American artistic production that illuminates how questions of gender and sexuality guided artistic experimentation in the Black Arts Movement from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. As Avilez shows, the artistic production of the Black Arts era provides a set of critical methodologies and paradigms rooted in the disidentification with black nationalist discourses. Avilez's close readings study how this emerging subjectivity, termed aesthetic radicalism , critiqued nationalist rhetoric in the past. It also continues to offer novel means for expressing black intimacy and embodiment via experimental works of art and innovative artistic methods. A bold addition to an advancing field, Radical Aesthetics and Modern Black Nationalism rewrites recent black cultural production even as it uncovers unexpected ways of locating black radicalism.
With the New Negro movement and the Harlem Renaissance, the 1920s was a landmark decade in African American political and cultural history, characterized by an upsurge in racial awareness and artistic creativity. In Spectres of 1919 Barbara Foley traces the origins of this revolutionary era to the turbulent year 1919, identifying the events and trends in American society that spurred the black community to action and examining the forms that action took as it evolved.
Unlike prior studies of the Harlem Renaissance, which see 1919 as significant mostly because of the geographic migrations of blacks to the North, Spectres of 1919 looks at that year as the political crucible from which the radicalism of the 1920s emerged. Foley draws from a wealth of primary sources, taking a bold new approach to the origins of African American radicalism and adding nuance and complexity to the understanding of a fascinating and vibrant era.
Unknown Tongues examines the social and economic factors of northern industrialization, social reform, and black nationalism, all of which undergirded black women’s political consciousness during the decades before the American Civil War. The linkages between black women’s roles in the “culture of resistance” in slave communities and their transformations in the urban market economy fueled the development of black women’s political consciousness. As community activists and then as abolitionists, black urban women organized and protested against slavery, racism, sexism, and its attendant ills. Driven by market forces of nascent capitalism, black women created broad- based protest responses to the white power structure. Unknown Tongues explores the material realities that underpinned black women’s political development as well as the transformative stages of their political consciousness and activity.