Vol. 1, Issue 4 ( 1998): Black Studies

Table of contents

In the previous of Africa Update, Dr. Michael West of the University of North Carolina explored some of the various dimensions of the study of global Africa. He focused on the teaching of Africa in the United States in the course of his illuminating discussion.

We examine another aspect of the study of global Africa in this issue, namely, Black Studies. This issue of Africa Update consists of three papers presented at the conference on Africa and African-American Studies for the 21st century, at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, May 1998.

All credit for the tedious work of soliciting papers, retyping and editing must be given Dr. Gloria Waite of that institution. In her introductory notes she gives insights into the modalities of conference hosting with a small budget and a few enthusiastic faculty. Equally significant is the fact that the arguments made thirty years ago in terms of the founding of Black Studies Programs are no less significant today.

Semenya McCord, an activist in the 1960's, reflects on those early days and indeed the nineteenth-century foundations made by the Fisk Jubilee Singers as they went on the road to earn money for their struggling university in the 1870's.

Rhett Jones, in his analysis explores four eighteenth-century sources that laid the groundwork for Black and Africana Studies, namely the phenomenon of enslavement; the cultural traditions of enslaved Africans; the racism of white society; and confrontations between Native American and Africans.

Dr. Thomas Ranuga, Professor of Sociology and the Director of African and African American Studies at UMD, was central to all levels of planning and administration surrounding the conference which provided us with these useful perspectives on Black Studies. We acknowlege his contribution as we also prepare to host our annual conference on African Studies here at CCSU, on November 20, 1998.

In his column entitled Africa Online, Dr. Haines Brown reflects upon an interesting new development in African connectivity. He will return to the second part of his series in the winter issue.

In local news, the IJAW National Alliance of the Americas was launched on Saturday September 5,1998 at the Harford Marriott, Rocky Hill, Connecticut. The Keynote Address was given by Chief Joshua Fumodoh, president of the Ijaw National Congress, Nigeria, on the theme: "Ijaws and the National Question in Nigeria. Dr. Comfort Briggs-Anigbo, Mr. Paul Ekadi, Dr. Tonye Erekosima, Dr. Vincent Idemyor and Dr. Julius Ihonvbere were amongst twelve panelists who examined issues related to the Niger-Delta and its significance in Nigerian development.

Dr. Mathew Sikpi, the Vice-President of the organization and Dr. Tonye Erekosima were moderators.

Gloria Emeagwali

Chief Editor AfricaUpdate

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Four Views on Black Studies and the Black Experience in the U.S.A.

I. Introduction

By Dr. Gloria Waite, Associate Professor of History, UMD

The year 1968 was marked by several important events, not the least of which was the beginning of Black Studies programs on U.S. campuses, following demands begun two years earlier at San Francisco State College. The struggle to establish, finance, and expand these programs is ongoing, and may be expected to continue into the future. Many early programs have fallen by the way, while some have only recently emerged. In 1991, for instance, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD) began to offer a set of courses on the black experience, calling it the Minor in African and African American Studies. Most of the courses in the minor are offered by only three faculty members who teach about Africa and the African diaspora in the fields of history, literature, and sociology.

Periodic discussions over the years among these individuals, non-Black Studies black faculty, and black administrators centered around how to get more resources, find ways to encourage the university to hire more black faculty, especially for the minor, and assist black students when they bring their individual and collective concerns to our attention. It was at one of these meetings in April 1997 that someone suggested we convene a conference on Black Studies in 1998.

Planning began immediately and we learned what went into the making of a conference as we proceeded. The enthusiasm of administrators on the planning committee kept the faculty members from scuttling the idea when the going got rough, and the Director of the Minor, Dr. Thomas Ranuga, was the strongest anchor one could ever hope to have for such a task. He utilized his considerable skills in shuttle diplomacy, promoted a sense of goodwill among us, and never failed to achieve consensus. This team work bore much fruit when, on April 2 - 3, 1998, the year and month of the 30th anniversary marking the beginning of Black Studies, we held a conference at the UMD on "African and African American Studies for the Twenty-First Century."

As the conference opened, the planning committee nervously hoped for the best. We could expect a fair showing of students from Black Studies courses, past and present. Despite having such a small faculty teaching most of the courses--and only one of them teaches Black Studies courses exclusively--our minor is very popular. It has higher course enrollments, concentrators and graduates than all other interdisciplinary minors combined. Indeed, the number of minors in African and African American Studies compares favorably to departments in the university with larger full-time faculty. More important, the enthusiasm of students had grown perceptibly as the conference approached, and many of them came forward to volunteer to help with several tasks in the days leading up to and during the conference.

We scheduled four panels that focused on Black Studies in relationship to politics, art, student empowerment, and community responsibility. As chair of the first panel, the one on the politics of African and African American Studies, I got a good idea early on of who was present, since this task brought me to the front of the auditorium. Looking out over the audience, I was impressed by the very sizable number of non-university people. Not only did the presence of these community people not diminished over the two days, but panelists frequently recalled the historical relationship between the black community and Black Studies, a relationship no other discipline can claim. We resolved to strengthen or resuscitate the contact made possible by the conference, and discussed making the university an open space for the community by organizing future conferences in conjunction with it. Community members, on their side, expressed indignation at the small number of black faculty members, especially those serving our program, and promised their support to increase the size of the black professoriate at UMD.

We discussed the creation of Black Studies programs thirty years earlier by future leaders of the Black community, and the then-commonly-held view that these programs would assist in the liberation of Black people. We noted the failure of this mission as programs drifted in the ocean of a western academy that is hostile to any community needs, other than its own.

These were among the issues we discussed, candidly and without acrimony. The diverse audience and mix of participants made this possible. Of the 20 panelists, 13 were community workers, labor organizers, museum archivists, and UMD student leaders. The rest were professors who had been student activists and who now teach about the black experience.

Such were the impressions generated by the conference that it seemed like a good idea to try to share some of the discussion with a wider audience. Yet I knew when I sent out letters to each panelist, requesting his or her written comments for publication in AfricaUpdate, that I was asking a lot. For many participants it was an impractical request since most of them had come only with notes, not prepared papers. We had deliberately steered clear of creating an intimidating academic format in order to have the widest possible exchange between the audience and panelists. We got that, of course, but at the expense of written papers.

Even if every panelist had submitted a paper, a medium such as this, or even an audiovisual recording of the proceedings, could not capture the dynamism of the event since dialogue continued at lunch tables, the reception, and on the campus paths. In any case, I am pleased to present what papers I did receive, and thank the authors for their cooperation and timely submissions.

As I sought a common ground for the papers, I reread the speech by the late Amilcar Cabral, in which he used the words, "return to the source." This phrase first came to me while I was chairing the politics panel. One of the panelists suggested that UMD hold a conference on Amilcar Cabral, given the large Cape Verdian population in southeastern Massachusetts, and I happened at the time to be thinking about the composition of the audience, which led me to the thought that we had "returned to the source."

I see many implications for Black Studies in "returning to the source." The liberation agenda of Black Studies---and that agenda explains the white-supremacist attempt to suppress it---is implicit in the papers below, even though these papers deal largely with black life and culture, or what I collectively call here "the Black experience." In seeking to reconcile the relationship between the black experience and Black Studies, it occurred to me that perhaps the two are analogous, mutually reinforcing one another. Whether at a personal level or in the context of teaching Black Studies, we "return to the source" when we take up the issues of "identity" and "dignity" that Cabral regarded as central to the project of liberation.

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II. Excerpts from Opening Remarks

By Dr. Thomas Ranuga, Professor of Sociology and

Director of African and African American Studies, UMD

America is a multiracial and multiethnic society and an important and integral component of its national culture is the African American entity. An education system that does not reflect that reality and fails to recognize the contribution of people of African descent to the cultural enrichment of American society is, to say the least, woefully incomplete and inadequate. One of the greatest American scholars of African descent, W. E. B. Du Bois, described the distinctive role that Africa played in the evolution of world civilization in these words: "Three things Africa has given the world, and they form the essence of African culture: the beginnings, the village unit, the art in sculpture and music." Putting aside the village unit or extended family, which is central to a proper upbringing in the African tradition, and what the world has inherited from Africa in art and music, is it not a fact that some of the greatest world figures that had an enormous impact on the course of world history had their beginnings or debut in Africa? Fact: Moses was born in Africa and was saved on the river Nile. This is the historic individual who laid the foundations for the great religions of the world. Fact: Jesus of Nazareth had to escape the wrath of King Herod by taking refuge in Africa. Fact: Mahatma Gandhi had his baptism of fire in racist South Africa where, as a young lawyer, he invented the philosophy of passive resistance, which was so instrumental in bringing down the full might of the British empire in India. It was the teaching of Gandhi that influenced the nonviolent philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., who led the second American Revolution to redeem the soul of America; and, in South Africa, the same teaching had a major impact on the defiance campaign, which included Nelson Mandela, whose indomitable spirit of resistance brought down the citadel of white supremacy.

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III. Art and the Black Experience

By Semenya McCord, Artistic Director of Hemisphere Associates,

New Bedford, MA, and Visiting Lecturer in Music, UMD

In 1969, I was one of fifteen black students at Knox College, a small liberal arts college in my home town of Galesburg, Illinois. Most of the black students came from Chicago, some from the South. In the Spring of that year, several of us marched into the college president's office to present our demands. We wanted courses about Africa and African-American history ("Pan-Africanism" was the term in those days), recruitment of black students and faculty, and the establishment of support systems on campus for Blacks who were feeling "isolated" in a crowd of white faces. Those were the issues then, same as now.

I went on to become an elementary school music teacher. In 1971 the three other black teachers in the Galesburg public school system and I began to caucus around the question of developing Black Studies in the junior and senior high schools, despite the fact that black students made up only 0.05% of the high school population. At that time, and now, I believed that art was the vehicle for carrying forth the lessons learned in the past. that our expressions in music, dance, literature and the visual arts stimulate the critical creativity that would guarantee our survival and ensure our control over our future.

Today's culturally empowering murals on the building walls in black communities across the country and the exhibition of graffiti art work in galleries, on postcards and T-shirts, is reminiscent of the 1970s. At least now some of the buildings that display the incredible murals painted by community youth are actually owned by black folks. Some of the trendy clothing lines are designed and owned by Blacks. Our music and art are popular around the world, part of the global perspective, world beat, world music.

Times have changed. During the first decades of this century Ma Rainey and Alberta Hunter were able to control their own stage shows, the bookings, the publicity, hiring, firing, and paying their musicians. But they still could not use the "white only" restrooms or get rooms in hotels across the South. These days, from Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, to Puff Daddy, black artists are owning their own work and staying at any hotel they can afford.

What makes African-American art and culture such a money maker? When the Fisk Jubilee Singers first went on the road in 1871 to earn money for their struggling university, these nine young men and women, eight of whom had been enslaved, consciously avoided singing spirituals or any songs associated with slavery. They presented sacred anthems, patriotic songs, even Irish ballads. Their white audiences considered them a novelty. Black audiences praised them as a "step up" for the race. They were, however, barely covering their touring expenses, and were sending very few dollars back to Fisk University.

Feeling discouraged, and remembering the inspiration derived from singing spirituals during chapel services on their campus, they began to sing these "jubilees" for their audiences as well. Soon they were no longer scouting for opportunities to perform. Instead, they had to sort through invitations to perform and could negotiate fees for their performances, above the "good will offerings" they were accustomed to receiving. The Jubilee Singers achieved their mission, earning $20,000 for Fisk University in a few months, after which they returned home.

They were not at home long. "Command" performances were called for, even world travel. In England, Queen Victoria requested "Steal Away to Jesus" and "Go Down, Moses" in a private concert. They toured Holland, Germany and Russia. Even where the English language was not understood, the art of the music was not lost on the audiences. As the award-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis says today, with respect to music, "Expression is your intent, it's what you want to communicate, and you can communicate a full range of experiences." Marsalis goes on to say that "There is no right or wrong in expression, only different levels of success in communicating how you feel."

African-American art communicates in a way no other culture can. The popular comedian Chris Rock, comparing slavery to the Jewish Holocaust, gives us a clear idea of the uniqueness of slavery when he states:

The Holocaust was illegal. Afterward, the Allies got to arrest people, lay blame, hold trials, and have a sense of closure. Slavery was legal. No closure. Just over. As far as America is concerned, slavery and segregation were fads, just like pet rocks and disco. . . . Slavery affected the Black psyche. Now we're like battered wives ordered to stay with their husbands.

Stewart notes that:

To be black in America means to practice some form of spiritual faith and belief, to claim such belief as indispensable to black sanity, well being, and survival. It is because of the prayers and faith of those who have gone before us and are with us that we are able to enjoy some semblance of human freedom today.

This faith, this spirituality, is an active characteristic of the African American experience. Stewart defines it as "innovation" and "improvisation," which we recognize as the defining characteristics of spirituals, blues and jazz. Stewart writes:

Blacks could not have survived without being innovative, without creating something new and vital in a world that had virtually lost all meaning. African-Americans have lived innovatively and creatively out of necessity, and possessing the ability to live in such a manner has been a significant element of Black freedom in America.

Now, when we have the responsibility as teachers and students to look for and experience our humanity regarding out past and out future, the "arts" are intimately tied to the journey. The music, poetry, dance, visual work and document of the past reflect the present, and glimpse the ever-unknown future.

Even if all people cannot understand another people's music, in a culturally diverse society dare we ignore or dismiss the presence of other music forms, especially that of black Americans, whose contribution to U. S. music and the growing U. S. cultural hegemony in the world is so pronounced?

The National Standards for Arts Education: What Every Young American Should Know and Be Able to Do in the Arts, published in 1994 by the Music Educators National Conference, recognized the importance of multicultural learning, and setup goals for different grade levels according to the kinds of instruction students are thought to be capable of at those stages in their development. For instance, the standard for Kindergarten to 4th Grade urges teachers to recognize that there are other musical forms in the world of their students.

Nevertheless, African American Studies remain vital to an American education. It is neither an accident nor a marketing gimmick that the spirituals (and jazz) have often been acclaimed as a "universal" language. The struggle for freedom inherent in our art forms is a human struggle. The pain and the process, however, shape the musician to appreciate the reward in performance. No matter what technology you have or what you paid for it, making music is about communication, effectively expressing yourself. You can hear experienced musicians comment after an improvised solo: "Well, he played for ten minutes, but what did he say?" Or, "I really dug what she was saying."

My colleagues and I are constantly presenting elements of African American culture to students to experience and appreciate. The challenge is for students to apply the concepts to their own sense of culture, not just imitate ours. One does not need to moan and groan to sing the blues, nor does one need to sweat and shout to sing gospel or R & B. An effective experience with African American art forms should help clarify personal expression from any cultural perspective. An experience in African American art should help others to "say" something in their own cultural language. The spirituals, for example, inspire faith in God and in oneself. They are among the world's most profound expressions of the need for freedom, and belief in its imminent occurrence, despite the odds facing the improvisers of these songs. The theme of empowerment runs right through black music. For instance, the blues remind us that family and friends cannot always be counted on; there are times when we are all alone in our struggles. Billie Holiday said it best: "God blessed the child that's got his own."

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The Fourth Annual African Studies Conference of CCSU

The Fourth Annual African Studies Conference of CCSU was held in conjunction with the African Americans in Higher Education in Connecticut (AAHEC) luncheon.

The conference featured His Excellency Koby Koomson, Ghana's Ambassador to the United States; the Honorable William Dyson of the Connecticut House of Representatives and several scholars, among whom are Dr. Rowland Abiodun, Dr. Barry Hallen, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Nkiru Nzegwu and Dr. Kofi Agorsah.

Topics discussed included Maroon Resistance in the Caribbean; Dance, Movement and Africanity and aspects of African Art and Philosophy.

The conference aimed at exploring areas of inter-connection and disjuncture between Continental and Diasporan Africans and should therefore contribute to the overall discourse on Global Africa and the African Diaspora.

For more information on the conference, please contact the conference chair, Dr. Warren Perry (Perryw@ccsu.edu).

Dr. Evelyn Phillips


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IV. The Eighteenth Century Origins of Black Studies

By Dr. Rhett S. Jones, Professor of Afro-American Studies, Brown University

Most scholars who examine the origin of Black Studies find its beginning in the Black student struggles of the 1960s, others trace it back to the writing of such twentieth century Black intellectuals as W. E. B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, or Lorenzo Greene, while others think it is rooted in the writing of twentieth century non-blacks such as Melville Herskovits, Frank Tannenbaum, and Herbert Aptheker. Still others find the roots of African American Studies in the work of such nineteenth century figures as David Walker, Edward Wilmot Blyden, and John Russwurm. But the roots of Africana Studies are in the eighteenth century which, according to Jones (1996: 23-24):

was the period during which African American culture was created. By the time of the American Revolution, the vast majority of persons of African descent living in the thirteen colonies [of British North America] were the grandchildren of persons who were born in the New World. Over the course of the eighteenth century, Black Americans, almost all of whom were slaves, created a culture, one distinct and different from that of white Americans, almost all of whom were free.

Despite the fact that the eighteenth century is crucial to the formation of African American culture, little attention is given to this period by students of the Black past. Most of the standard texts of African American history begin with some discussion of Africa, perhaps with brief mention of such eighteenth century figures as Paul Cuffe and Crispus Attucks, then move swiftly to a discussion of slavery in the nineteenth century United States. Even if the argument of Ivan van Sertima and others (1976, 1987) that Africans were in the Americas prior to the arrival of Columbus is discounted, Blacks were in what is now the United States as early as 1526 (Aptheker, 1963: 163).

The essence of the black experience in North America, as embodied in African American culture, is reflectivity, or if a more simple word is preferred, watchfulness. Africana Studies is rooted in this watchfulness-this concern of Black Americans for observing the actions of other Americans, and themselves, reflecting on the meaning of these actions, and responding to them. Four factors shaped this watchfulness. The first of these was slavery. It is an unhappy characteristic of the United States and the British settlements that preceded its formation that a number of racial, ethnic, and religious groups, have been subjected to discrimination, exploitation, and oppression. But with the exception of Native Americans and Indian slavery had pretty much ended by the 1740s-only Blacks were enslaved, and not just for a brief period time, but for generations. Space does not permit discussion of the many complexities and ramifications of slavery, but it is possible to briefly address the consequences of slavery for that most basic of social units, the family.

Except for a brief period of time in the seventeenth century when male slaves were housed in barracks, much like prisoners in concentration camps, most black slaves lived in families. But these families only superficially resembled other American families. While slave families consisted of parents and their children they were profoundly different from the families of other Americans in that each one included an invisible family member. Although he (or she) was not listed on the roster of slaves, he was the most powerful member of the family. The slave holder made family decisions ordinarily made by free Americans. He, for example, decided whether or not a man and woman who wished to be married would be allowed to do so. He, not the parents, decided whether one of their children would be taught to read, or taught a trade. He, not the parents, decided whether or not the child would be baptized, and if so in which faith. He even decided whether the family would remain together, for the slave holder could and did, sell husband away from wife, and children away from their parents. As a number of scholars (Kulikoff, 1986; Sobel, 1987; Piersen, 1988) of eighteenth century North America demonstrate, African Americans managed to create stable families, despite the instability of their lives. But to create and maintain kinship ties under these circumstances, slaves had to be watchful, and to carefully observe their owners. They learned their owners' strengths and weaknesses, manipulated them when possible in order to protect their families, as Osfosky (1969) and Miller (1978) demonstrate.

If slavery is one source of African American reflectivity, a second source is the culture slaves created. In one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of mankind, slaves managed to create a culture in which they delivered respect to one another, despite lack of full control over their communities, their families, and even over their own bodies. In European and African cultures respect was often derived from material possessions, on high sounding titles, on dress, on power and on property. In British North America, the colonists continued the system by means of which persons gained respect in Europe, basing respect on education, titles, property, locations of homes, number of servants, and in some cases, number of slaves. As was the case in Europe, whether a person was deserved of respect could be determined at a glance, by seeing how he dressed, the home in which he lived, the property he owned, and whether or not he had a title. But slaves had no titles, had earned no degrees, and owned no property. On what then was the respect they gave one another based?

It rested on behavior. The slaves delivered respect to one another based on how one cared for children, treated the elderly, related to God, and served the community. Slave society was unlike the society of Africa and Europe in that whether or not a slave was deserved of respect by other slaves could not be determined at a glance. To determine how an individual cared for children or treated the elderly could only be discovered by watching that person over a period of time. In creating a culture that did not rest on materialism, the slaves created one which required them to watch one another in order to determine who deserved respect and who did not.

The roots of Africana Studies are also found in the stark contrast between the culture of free whites and that of enslaved Blacks. The two cultures grew up together over the course of the eighteenth century, yet as demonstrated above, were strikingly different. Blacks had to live in both worlds. After writing of the recognition of the humanity of Blacks in Latin America and the Caribbean, Klein (1986: 186-87) observed:

But at the same time, these were inevitably racist societies which rejected black self-identity and self-worth and often created a second class citizenship for those who achieved their freedom. Social ascension and mobility were possible for enough blacks to give a majority a sense of hope, but the terms were always rejection of their Afro-American cultural identity and their blackness.

Eighteenth century Blacks mastered two cultures. They had to be sufficiently knowledgeable of white society, as a number of scholars (Mullin, 1972; Wood, 1974; Mintz and Price, 1992) demonstrate, to be able to move in it and take full advantage of whatever opportunities it might present. And yet, recognizing the racism of white society, African Americans also had to live comfortably in and support the folkways of black society. To shift back and forth between these two societies, now living in one, now living in the other, blacks had to be reflective, now thinking about the norms of one culture, now thinking about those of the other.

The fourth and final source of the eighteenth century black reflectivity that laid the groundwork for Africana Studies is found in the fact that African Americans had to not only watch whites and one another, but Native Americans as well. While it may be sensible for scholars of black life in the nineteenth century to focus on blacks, or on the way in which whites and blacks influence one another, as a number of scholars (Willis, 1973; Perdue, 1979; Bateman, 1990; Jones, 1991; Mulroy, 1993) show, no study of race relations in the 1700s and early 1800s makes sense unless relations among red, white and black peoples are explored.

By the early years of the nineteenth century, Native Americans had both grappled with, and been influenced by, white attitudes toward blacks.

Dowd (1992) demonstrates that almost all Indian nations were divided over whether to accept or reject the customs and beliefs of the eighteenth century settlers of British North America. One of the divisions among Native Americans was whether to accept slavery and the racist justifications some whites were creating to support it.

Despite the romantic inclination of some Blacks to see Indian enslavement of Blacks as more benevolent and less harsh than the slavery practiced by whites, eighteenth century African Americans enjoyed no such luxury. They watched Indians as carefully as they watched each other and whites, shrewdly manipulating Indian slave holders, their supporters, and their opponents, just as they manipulated their white counterparts.

As a discipline Africana Studies is fragmented, composed of Womanists, Marxists, Feminists, Afrocentrists, to say nothing of a host of scholars who claim they had no ideological orientation but simply conduct empirical Studies, and allow the results to speak for themselves. What all have in common, however, is the watchful reflectivity, the ability to carefully examine the actions of others that shaped the folkways of eighteenth century Black Americans and therefore the strategies of twentieth century Black Studies scholars.


Aptheker, Herbert

1963 American Negro Slave Revolts. New York: International Publishers.

Bateman, Rebecca B.

1990 "Africans and Indians: A Comparative Study of the Black Carib and Black Seminole." Ethnohistory 37 (Winter): 1-24.

Dowd, Gregory Evans

1992 A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity, 1745-1815. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Jones, Rhett S.

1991 "Mirroring the Double Failure: African and Native American Roots of Oppugnancy." New England Journal of Black Studies (9): 1-17.

1996 "Pseudo Power and the Creation of African

American Culture." International Journal of

Africana Studies 4 (December): 22-38.

Klein, Herbert S.

1986 African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kulikoff, Allan

1986 Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

McLoughlin, William G.

1984 The Cherokee Ghost Dance. Macon (GA): Mercer University Press.

Miller, Randall M. (Ed.)

1978 "Dear Master": Letters of a Slave Family. Ithaca (NY): Cornell University Press.

Mintz, Sidney W. and Richard Price

1992 The Birth of African-American Culture. Boston: Beacon Press.

Mullin, Gerald W.

1972 Flight and Rebellion: Slave Resistance in Eighteenth Century Virginia. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mulroy, Kevin

1993 Freedom on the Border: The Seminole Maroons. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press.

Osofsky, Gilbert (Ed.)

1969 Puttin on Ole Massa. New York: Harper Torchbooks.

Perdue, Theda

1979 Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

Piersen, William D.

1988 Black Yankees: The Development of an Afro-American Sub-Culture in Eighteenth Century New England. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Sobel, Mechal

1987 The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteenth Century Virginia. Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press.

Van Sertima, Ivan

1976 They Came before Columbus. New York: Random House.

Van Sertima, Ivan (Ed.)

1987 African Presence in Early America. New Brunswick (NJ): Journal of African Civilizations.

Willis, William S.

1973 "Divide and Rule: Red, White, and Black in the Southeast." Journal of Negro History 48 (July): 157-176.

Wood, Peter H.

1974 Black Majority: Negroes in South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. New York: Norton.

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Notes on Sankofa

By Kenneth M. Lukasiewicz (History 497: African History though Film)

Sankofa was filmed on location in Ghana and Jamaica. The film begins and ends at a castle in Ghana that represented the point of no return for millions of Africans banished from their homeland. The drummer, who is in touch with the spirits of the dead, connects contemporary African Americans like Mona with the past.

This film empowers Africans on screen by showing how their desire for freedom made them resist, fight back, and conspire against their enslavers and overseers. As Mona goes back in time to her ancestral past as Shola, we share the life she endures as a slave; we suffer her humiliations and pain, and experience her growing consciousness and transformation from victim to rebel. The film ends with a naked Mona coming out of the belly of the beast (castle dungeon). Reborn with a new sense of being, Mona/Shola sits with the drummer, along with other Africans looking across the Atlantic Ocean. The looks on their faces tell the story; as they connect with the past, they are reconnecting a damaged umbilical cord with Africa.

The imagery, the use of language, and the repeated African proverb presents problems. The repeated image of the vulture represents both death and a spirtual repatriation. Joe commits matricide by killing his mother, Nunu. Shango, Shola's love and a leading rebel on the plantation, uses Gullah as bridge language. "The snake shall have whatever is in the belly of the frog," is repeated by Shango throughout the film. The snake, unlike its symbolism in the Judeo-Christian Bible, bears no negativity in African myth. The snake symbolizes the rebels and the frog, a symbol of evil, represents the plantation owner, and in the belly of the frog are the overseers and head slaves.

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In Memory of Kwame Ture

By Dr. Katherine Harris Central Connecticut State University

"The secret of life is to have no fear; it's the only way to function." These words of Kwame Ture echoed from his lips in April 1998. Some months earlier in 1997, he demonstrated that determination to defeat fear and pain. In his talk, entitled "28 Years After the Takeover: Developing a National Black Student Agenda" at Cornell University, he commemorated the 1969 occupation of the Willard Straight Student Union. The takeover expedited the establishment of the Africana Studies and Research Center. It remains a major forum for scholarly debate, instruction and intellectual discourse on Africa, the transatlantic experience involving Europe and the African diaspora in the United States, Caribbean, West Indies and South America.

The chapters of Ture's life form seminal parts of African, African American and Caribbean Studies. Born in Trinidad in 1941, he migrated with his family to New York. He experienced the marginalized existence, truncated liberty, and the sense of powerless of the African American community within which he lived.

Following his graduation from Howard University in 1964, Ture, then known as Stokely Carmichael, joined the youth of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who were the shock troops of the civil rights voter registration campaigns. SNCC members elected Ture chairman of SNCC in 1966. The transfer of leadership from John Lewis to Ture opened a new and controversial chapter in SNCC's organizational history.

With his co-author, Charles V. Hamilton, however, Ture, still Stokely Carmichael in 1967, helped to re-conceptualize discussions on race and power relations in Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. They used the analogy of Robert Blauner's "internal colonialism" model to describe the condition of African Americans entrapped in urban ghettos and slums, economically dependent, and powerless.

Ture sent chills and cheers throughout the nation when he used the expression "black power." He urged that the goal of black power was to obtain in the decision making process "an effective share in the total power of society." Ture was a founding member of the Lowndes Freedom Organization, which evolved into the Black Panther Party. Ture served as its prime minister until he resigned in 1969.

As Ture took on a more global framework of analysis, he explored the socialist economic path to development, nationalism and Pan Africanism. In 1972 he joined the central committee of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party based in the Peoples Revolutionary Republic of Guinea. He remained in exile for the next two decades in Ghana and Guinea Conakry, but returned to the US periodically. At the age of 57, he lost the battle against prostate cancer, which was diagnosed in 1996.

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Africa Online

By Haines Brown, CCSU History Department, emeritus

Discussions of African connectivity focus on material infrastructure, but the other side of the equation is popular expectations - what might be called "cyber-consciousness."

Undoubtedly these objective and subjective factors are interdependent, but perhaps sufficient expectation can encourage an atmosphere favorable to overcoming technical problems.

This is why Africa Online is so important, for while connectivity is modest, it reflects and furthers a broad desire to resolve infrastructural handicaps. In Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, C^ te d'Ivoire and Zimbabwe, the fledging company has entered into a profit-sharing relation with post offices whereby postal customers are issued free e-mail addresses and charged a modest fee to send electronic messages. For example, it costs $.25 US to send an e-mail message in Ghana.

Much to everyone's surprise, the arrangement is enormously popular. It started in 1994 as a mailing list to serve Africans living in the US. Financing was a problem until the young company was purchased in October by African Lakes in the UK. The subscriber list is skyrocketing.

Subscribers greatly out-number computers, but perhaps this insatiable demand will invigorate the attack upon an array of technical difficulties. On the other hand, the first to benefit will undoubtedly be the urban middle class, which might further widen social divisions.

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