In This Review

Proudly We Can Be Africans: Black Americans and Africa, 1935-1961
Proudly We Can Be Africans: Black Americans and Africa, 1935-1961
By James H. Meriwether
University of North Carolina Press, 2002, 347 pp
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The author of this carefully researched study looks at six episodes -- Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, the start of the Cold War, passive resistance in South Africa in 1952, the Mau Mau rebellion, Ghanaian independence, and mass decolonization and the Congo crisis in 1960 -- to trace the evolving views of leading African Americans on the relevance of contemporary Africa to American race struggles. Influenced by negative stereotypes of Africa and slow to challenge the anticommunism shaping U.S. foreign policies, most black Americans were late to appreciate how much successful African nationalism could lend momentum to their cause at home. But no sooner had the inspirational value of African independence become widely apparent in the late 1950s than the complex Congo crisis of 1960-61 divided radicals from conservatives and reinforced black Americans' perennial hesitation to disaggregate Africa into its myriad nations, factions, and personalities. An absorbing history of links between domestic and international politics.