Synopses & Reviews
The mid-twentieth century witnessed nations across Africa fighting for their independence from colonial forces. By examining black Americans' attitudes toward and responses to these liberation struggles, James Meriwether probes the shifting meaning of Africa in the intellectual, political, and social lives of African Americans. Paying particular attention to such important figures and organizations as W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., and the NAACP, Meriwether incisively utilizes the black press, personal correspondence, and oral histories to render a remarkably nuanced and diverse portrait of African American opinion.
Meriwether builds the book around seminal episodes in modern African history, including nonviolent protests against apartheid in South Africa, the Mau Mau war in Kenya, Ghana's drive for independence under Kwame Nkrumah, and Patrice Lumumba's murder in the Congo. Viewing these events within the context of their own changing lives, especially in regard to the U.S. civil rights struggle, African Americans have continually reconsidered their relationship to contemporary Africa and vigorously debated how best to translate their concerns into action in the international arena.
Grounded in black Americans' encounters with Africa, this transnational history sits astride the leading issues of the twentieth century: race, civil rights, anticolonialism, and the intersections of domestic race relations and U.S. foreign relations.
This beautifully written book provides a deeply textured narrative of the relationship between African Americans and Africa. (Mary L. Dudziak, University of Southern California Law School)
Brilliantly explores the complex relationship between African Americans and Africa, how their ideas about Africa changed from redemption to the influence of Africa on their own consciousness and liberation, indeed on their very identity as African Americans. (Robert L. Harris Jr., Cornell University)
The first comprehensive study of the diverse ways in which African Americans responded to the winning of African independence. Deeply researched and finely written. (Thomas Borstelmann, author of The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena)
Meriwether explores the dynamic nature of Africa's role in African American lives from the middle 1930s to the early 1960s, during the confluence of the liberation struggles in Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States.
About the Author
James H. Meriwether, a former Fulbright senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Zimbabwe, is assistant professor of history at California State University, Bakersfield.