Ortiz places African American and Latinx struggles for political and labor rights front and center in this paradigm-shifting history of the United States. Both radical and reasonable, An African American and Latinx History is a bracing and necessary corrective to the white-washed American history most of us learn in school. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights.
Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged narrative history, arguing that the “Global South” was crucial to the development of America as we know it. Scholar and activist Paul Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress as exalted by widely taught formulations like “manifest destiny” and “Jacksonian democracy,” and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms US history into one of the working class organizing against imperialism.
Drawing on rich narratives and primary source documents, Ortiz links racial segregation in the Southwest and the rise and violent fall of a powerful tradition of Mexican labor organizing in the twentieth century, to May 1, 2006, known as International Workers’ Day, when migrant laborers — Chicana/os, Afrocubanos, and immigrants from every continent on earth — united in resistance on the first “Day Without Immigrants.” As African American civil rights activists fought Jim Crow laws and Mexican labor organizers warred against the suffocating grip of capitalism, Black and Spanish-language newspapers, abolitionists, and Latin American revolutionaries coalesced around movements built between people from the United States and people from Central America and the Caribbean. In stark contrast to the resurgence of “America First” rhetoric, Black and Latinx intellectuals and organizers today have historically urged the United States to build bridges of solidarity with the nations of the Americas.
Incisive and timely, this bottom-up history, told from the interconnected vantage points of Latinx and African Americans, reveals the radically different ways that people of the diaspora have addressed issues still plaguing the United States today, and it offers a way forward in the continued struggle for universal civil rights.
“A groundbreaking book about African Americans and Latino/a Americans whose ancestors came from Africa, the Americas, and the Caribbean...[Ortiz] has captured the historic drama of their collective experience in their struggles for social justice, writing from the perspective of an activist scholar engaged in the current issues facing both peoples.” Carlos Muñoz Jr., author of Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement
“Paul Ortiz’s African American and Latinx History of the United States provides an essential frame for understanding how freedom struggles dating back to the 18th century inform today’s entrenched inequality and systemic racism across diasporas. This is a necessary text for reconceptualizing American history, and Ortiz meticulously establishes historical precedent for multiethnic coalition building that extends beyond geographical borders to restore dignity and architect descriptive and substantive representation.” Sonja Diaz, executive director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Latino Policy and Politics Initiative
“An epic, panoramic account of class struggles in the Western Hemisphere. At center stage are the Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people who built the ‘new world.’” Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
“A fierce and masterful work of historical scholarship. Extraordinary in its depth and breadth.” Gaye Theresa Johnson, author of Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity
“A concise, alternate history of the United States....A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, ‘from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.'" Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
About the Author
Paul Ortiz is an associate professor of history and the director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida. He is the author of Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence From Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920 and coeditor of the oral history Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South. He lives in Gainesville, Florida.