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Pan-African and Diaspora Politics in the US


The 1870s saw the 15th amendment of the American constitution that gave African Americans the right to participate in universal suffrage. In essence, from the 1870s, blacks in the United States of America were to exercise the right of self-determination of how they were to be governed. These rights were galvanized in the 20th century through deliberate and concerted efforts of the black community living in the United States of America, as well as the black community back in Africa (Brown, Carnoy, and Oppenheimer 23; Geiss 34).

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Pan African Politics

As a group of like-minded people, the Pan African movement was geared towards achieving the independence of African nations as well as ensuring the unity of the black community over the world. The Pan African movement was formed following the conferences held in London and an array of other cities in the early years of the 20th century.

W.E.B Dubois was the leader of the movement. The pioneer Pan African conference held in the city of Manchester included two prominent African leaders. They were Mzee Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya and Kwame Nkurumah of Ghana. The Pan African thought represents the complex political and intellectual discourse on the history of black people for over 200 years (Welch 65). What constitutes Pan-Africanism may change depending on the subject of debate. However, the basic tenet of Pan-Africanism is to present the voice and view of the black people, both on the African continent and else in the world, as a single voice. Other major figures of Pan-Africanism include Silvester Williams and John Pandermore.

African Association

African Association was established by Silvester Williams in 1897. The aim of the AA was to foster unity and facilitate friendly interactions among Africans. The AA was also supposed to protect and pursue the interests of all the people of the world that claim to be of African descent. One of the major achievements was a petition to Joseph Chamberlain, the British secretary in charge of colonies, to insert a provision in the Rhodesian Constitution that was to provide protection to the colonies.

Pan African Association

The Pan African Association was formed to replace the African Association. The main objectives of the PAA were to secure the civil and political rights of the African peoples as well as promote better interracial relations, education, business, and lobbying among the black peoples. As a result, African intellectuals, such as Jomo Kenyatta, had returned home and begun rebelling against the British colonists, who lastly ceded power to natives in Kenya in 1963.

African Diaspora Politics

Formed under the auspices of the civil rights movement, the black power movement or black consciousness and the black arts movement were formed around the world to fight for Africans (Levine 88). Great importance was attached to the formation of the black consciousness movement in South Africa in the 1970s at the height of apartheid. The black power movement generated critical debates, intellectual discourse, and political strategies that were important for pushing forward the rights of black people around the world. The basic principle of the movement was in the phrase ” “Black is Beautiful.” The black conscious movement was led by a South African, Steve Biko, and it agitated for the intellectual awakening of the African people.

Back to Africa Movement

Led by Marcus Garvey, under the umbrella of the Universal Negro Movement Association, the Back to Africa movement ignited the sentiment of emigration among black people (Brown et al. 57). Although the movement was scoffed at by the black middle class that rallied numerous African Americans. Indeed, UNIA became one of the most vocal and largest movements in the history of African Americans (Gilroy 34). By asserting that emancipation in the USA was an illusion, Garvey proposed a return of African Americans to homelands in Africa. As a result, a number of people returned to Liberia due to the famous Black Starliner.

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Works Cited:

Brown, Michael K., Martin Carnoy, and David B. Oppenheimer. Whitewashing race: The myth of a color-blind society. Oakland, CA: Univ of California Press, 2003. Print.

Clay, William L. Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1991. New York, NY: Amistad Press, 1992. Print.

Geiss, Imanuel. The pan-African movement: A history of Pan-Africanism in America, Europe, and Africa. New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1974. Print.

Gilroy, Paul. Against race: Imagining political culture beyond the color line. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000. Print.

Levine, Lawrence W. Highbrow/Lowbrow. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988. Print.

Tate, Katherine. Black faces in the mirror: African Americans and their representatives in the US Congress. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003. Print.

Welch, Claude E. Dream of unity: Pan-Africanism and political unification in West Africa. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1966. Print.

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Whitby, Kenny J. The color of representation: Congressional behavior and black interests. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2000. Print.

Wilson, William J. The declining significance of race: Blacks and changing American institutions. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2012. Print.

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