March 22

Pan Africanism

Guest Lecturer: Ernest Allen, Professor, W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

 


ABSTRACT:  This lecture shall examine the history of Pan-Africanism from a Diasporic perspective, for the most part, framed by more generalized African American attitudes towards Africa from the late-19th century onward. In its broadest sense, the term Pan-Africanism invokes the solidarity of all peoples of African descent wherever they may reside; in its narrowest interpretation such solidarity has aimed for the unification of the African continent alone. Confounding any easy categorizations on our part is the fact that Pan-Africanist sentiment has often been indistinguishable from nationalist outpourings in Africa as well as the Diaspora. The phenomenon known as Ethiopianism further muddies the conceptual boundaries. From the turn of the 19th century onward, African-American feelings towards contemporary Africa slowly began to warm as ignorance of the continent gave way to more enlightened reflection. Although Garveyism did much to change Black American and West Indian attitudes towards Africa in the post-World War I era, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 helped crystallize black popular support for an esteemed African country in unprecedented ways. Following World War II, the confluence of the Civil Rights Movement and African decolonization fueled Pan-Africanist sentiment on both sides of the Atlantic as Africans and African Americans alike moved towards formal freedom.

OUTLINE/GUIDE FOR STUDENTS:

I. Early African American Attitudes Towards Africa
    a. Ambivalences of African-American identity
    b. Christian influences
    c. Myth of the "Dark Continent"
II. Ethiopianism and the Black Missionary Imperative, 1814 to WWII
    a. The AME Church
    b. The National Baptist Convention
III. The Pan-African Congresses, 1900-1927
    a. Diasporic initiatives towards African freedom
IV. The Universal Negro Improvement Association (international activities)
    a. Search for a place: former German Colonies vs. Liberia
    b. UNIA impact on Africa and the African Diaspora
V. The Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935-1941
    a. Mobilization in the Diaspora
    b Council on African Affairs
VI. The Collapse of Colonial Rule
    a. Fifth Pan-African Congress, 1945
    b. Decolonization
    c. Organization of African Unity, 1963
    d. Armed struggle in the Portuguese colonies
VIII. Political and Cultural Pan-Africanism in the Post-Colonial Era
    a. World Festival of Negro Arts, Dakar, 1966
    b. Sixth Pan-African Congress, 1974
    c. World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, Lagos, 1977
IX. The Anti-Apartheid Movement and the TransAfrica Lobby
    a. Sanctions and divestment
    b. Birth of a pro-African, pro-Caribbean lobby