A History of Africana Women

A History of Africana Women


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



 women’s roles in nation-building have largely remained blank pages of  history;

hence, this essay  fills in the blank pages with a reconstructed account of 

women’s contributions by recourse to oral traditions, personal interviews,

eye witness accounts and documentary records.  



Books by Rose Ure Mezu


Women in Chains: Abandonment in Love Relationships in the Fiction of Selected West African Writers (1994) / Songs of the Hearth (1993) /

Homage to My People (2004) / A History of Africana Women’s Literature (2004)

 Black Nationalists: Reconsidering Du Bois, Garvey, Booker T. & Nkrumah (1999) Chinua Achebe: The Man and His Works (2006)

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A History of Africana Women’s Literature

 essays on poetry, gender, religion, feminism, aesthetics, politics, moral values, African tradition & diaspora

Edited by Rose Ure Mezu

Introduction:  A Continuum of Black Women’s Activism

A History of Africana Women’s Literature contains  essays  by notable Feminist/Womanist scholars  exploring the lives of  Black  women in different socio-cultural, linguistic and religious milieux, using a cross-disciplinary perspective.   The book  offers portraits of women actually seen to move beyond  mere socio-gender protests against marginalization and voicelessness  to a phase in which women are aware of options open to them. This is a much-desired phase of  dynamic socio-political / intellectual activism and self-actualization. All these lead to  a recovery, and  an effective use of the female voice.  

Many of the women in this collection feature  in a positive and autonomous capacity as women struggling, despite the constraints of patriarchy, to foster change and re-invest handicaps, tragedies and heartaches  into  self-affirming  and life-changing  projects.  Thus, the focus of this research is entirely revisionist in nature, projecting women of African descent — fictive or  real – with a history of activism that can be traced  even to pre-colonial Africa and  its orality.  As dynamic agents of change, quite a few of the women use their cultural positions to either  quietly subvert the status quo or actively challenge the socio-economic, political, and spiritual structures of their communities.

This  essay collection further achieves continuity by connecting women from disparate geo-linguistic and cultural spaces visibly engaged in  identical gender struggles. The essays  also  provide deep insights into the strategies these women adopt to combat exclusion in order to emerge from the shadows to the center. This anthology acknowledges the contributions of men, termed “gynandrists”  who have  with empathy spoken for women long before women could themselves do so. 

This critical collection attempts to cover the four regions of Africa and beyond to the diaspora, but it is singularly representative rather than comprehensive. Yet, it is  a crucial new addition to existing Feminist writings in its attempt to obliterate segmentation in the periodization of women’s literary history. This is achieved through establishing a much-needed continuum of African female writing, and contributions to society from early traditional orature in which those energetic women of  long ago are revealed as very actively involved in the lives and events of their communities  to the scripted word of modern literary discourse.

Rose Ure Mezu‘s  “Theorizing the Feminist Novel: Women and The State of African Literature Today” as the lead essay provides in broad overview both the theoretical and historical moorings as well as the geo-linguistic and cultural purview of  A History of Africana Women’s Literature.   This essay – also an exercise in periodization — historically situates African women’s writings in its proper cultural and educationally progressive space. 

Generally, the collection is inclusive because it does what many earlier anthologies have failed to do – provide inclusion of the goings-on in the lives of the Islamic or indigenous  women of North  Africa, termed the Maghreb region.   This effort is  accomplished through the informative and scintillating essays of  Najat Rahman and  Deirdre Bucher Heistad.  What emerges from their essays are portraits  of  Maghreb  women clearly seen not just culturally and socially circumscribed as are their fellow women living in Sub-Saharan Africa, but  singularly even more burdened by the religious tenets that inform this region controlled by an androcentric interpretation of Shari’a laws.

Next, going back to the dawn of history, Gloria Chuku presents an evaluative and  reconstructive survey of the socio-economic, and political activities of traditional Igbo women, their place and participation in the task of communal cultural preservation, economic building and codification of history itself. Chuku’s essay offers as well an aesthetic, philosophical and spiritual commentary on the patterned structure of a past precolonial patriarchal age, linking this earlier age to the written tradition of our contemporary age.  It is a creative act of resurrecting dead / silent female voices, enabling the women concerned through their day-to-day activities to contribute to the continuum of  female literary history.  In this respect, Chuku’s representative essay serves as a springboard to explore the situation and achievements of women both traditional and modern for the rest of the West African region. 

Ultimately, her essay satisfies our goal in this Anthology, which is, to link the practical and concrete accomplishments of real-life traditional women with academic theories of women’s capabilities and relevance as gleaned from current feminist writings.  It thus becomes feasible to plug up any lacunae that could interrupt the continuum of female writings and activism from traditional orature to the modern scripted word. Thus, the  rich, historical and experiential knowledge garnered about  women of African descent  can henceforth  serve as inspiration to modern activists who are challenged to transport this knowledge to the  wider social community.

Ramenga Osotsi‘s evaluation of the poetic “Utendi wa Mwanakupona” is equally used representatively to explore the  situation of women in the East African region.  Mwanakupona  is  mother, wife, lover, fiancé and friend of the men of her community, but  intends her  “Utendi ” to serve as a warning to her daughter in her relations with these men.  Rather than view the “Utendi” as a blueprint of female  behavior for a dutiful wife, the “Utendi” is offered as  a coded survival manual in a society in which the woman needs to be mentally agile.  It also contains an artistic elaboration of the concept of motherhood.  Through careful attention  to language and culture, the “Utendi” anticipates the theoretical contribution of traditional African women to modern feminist discourse.  

Its major concern is to fulfill the author’s social responsibility as a mother to her child and to all  other children in the immediate community.  Not being anti-men, her treatment and opinion of  men are not based on the assumption that the man is the enemy.  But behind her sharp critique of the man is still the need to create a humane relationship with the men of her society, a  relationship that starts  with self-awareness and self-empowerment on the part of the woman who is usually treated as victim of society. The originality of  Mwanakupona’s work lies in her non-dependence on any script in the Qur’an but in her unique use of her utendi to express, in a “higher” religious and moral tone, the popular themes of her time.  

At the same time, Mwanakupona shows the centrality of women to the creative process during pre-colonial Africa by paying attention to the rigorous demands of  her utendi in its metrical and musical form and by using its  performative essence to transfer a private, intimate mother-daughter discourse onto a public platform. Thus, Mwanakupona proves our thesis that even before the advent of Western colonialism, women were participating actively and meaningfully in the cultural literary life of their communities.

In a very concrete way, “Early Nigerian Matriarchs in Historic Action: A  Literary Reconstruction” is a literary  exercise that reconstructs the lives of several historical women important to the Nigerian polity.  The essay places each woman’s achievements in the context of her life and time in such a manner as to allow for a probing of the fissures in the lives of these women. 

Thus, it is easy to trace out a progressive connective pattern  of ideas in the larger canvass of time and history on which both their lives and achievements were anchored.  It is a critical re-evaluation of female participation in the history of nation-building in Africa, specifically in Nigeria.  Whereas only the achievements of men have hitherto been recorded, women’s roles in nation-building have largely remained blank pages of  history; hence, this essay  fills in the blank pages with a reconstructed account of  women’s contributions by recourse to oral traditions, personal interviews, eye witness accounts and documentary records.  

Oral traditions are used  to ferret out stories of these women of influence stretching from the hazy, mythic past up to recordable, verifiably historical periods. The essay, while painting a portrait of past societies,  yields useful insights into the lives of their women subjects, the choices available to these women and the strategies which enabled them to function constructively in sexist social environments. These women, with all their strengths, and despite their weaknesses, are viewed as models of inspiration encouraging  new millennium women to get involved (despite dysfunctional social situations) in the process of communal / national development.

Mvuyekure‘s “From  Nyabingi, The Priestess and Her Abagirwa to Nya(h)bing(h)i the  Rastafari: Supernatural  Matrix  for Political Protest and Anti-Colonial and Neo-Colonial Resistance” introduces a mythic female divinity, Nyabingi, a cult figure  of  anti-colonial and neo-colonial resistance whose appeal assumes a Pan-African reach from continental Africa to Jamaica.  Symbolically, Nyabingi has a mediatory social  role as she empowers circumscribed women to don on, like Achebe’s Chielo (Things Fall Apart), the mantle of divinity in order to be relevant in a male-controlled culture.  

Equally to be noted is the pervasive potency of the Nyabingi myth as inspirational  essence for nationalist and, later, anti-neo-colonialist resistance.  Nyabingi is transformed into an African traditional religion that is subsequently transplanted to diasporan Jamaica where it spawns a politico-religious,  albeit a philosophical, aesthetic movement with Bob Marley as its founder.  And thus, the female principle Nyabingi serves as inspiration for anti-British and anti-American influence. Mvuyekure joins forces with Nurrudin Farah (essay by Blessing Ogamba-Diala) and Mbar N’Gom  to give to this anthology the representative male presence needed to acknowledge the contributions of  those male writers who have fought, and continue to fight for the rights of African women.

Margaret Reid‘s “Conflict or Compromise: The Changing Roles of Women in the Writings of  Rebekah Njau and Grace Ogot” examines the conflicts arising out of the clash of traditional values and modern urban issues confronting Kenyan women.  Ogot and Njau are two of the earliest women writers in Kenya, sensitizing the society on socio-gender issues of which the mass of Kenyan women are not even aware: the confusion and disillusionment  about gender roles, the powerlessness women feel in traditional setting, the lack of choices and of a family support system available to them in urban settings, the inevitable clash of old and new cultural values.  

Ogot and Njau’s fictions  clearly express the merging of traditional culture with a patriarchal system to nullify work as a source of power for modern Kenyan women.  In Reid’s  essay, women’s passivity is apparent and, suicide, if considered a trope of rebellion and self-expression, still remains a poor substitute  for a transcending, and self-individuating  reality.  Ogot and Njau’s writings perform a consciousness-raising action by opening up a  new field of feminist discourse.

Northern Africa, in its position to the rest of Africa, has always been controversial because of its propinquity to, and tremendous interaction with the Mediterranean and the Middle East regions.  Yet, the peoples of Northern Africa consider themselves, and are accepted as Africans both  geographically and in terms of climatic,  historical and cultural relations.  

The two essays from the North of Africa prove that Islamic women’s situations differ in no significant way from those of women in the West, East or South of the African continent. Rahman‘s essay, “Reclaiming Heritage of Disinheritance Through ‘Women of the Verb’ in Assia Djebar’s Loin de Mdine” presents women from Muslim North Africa — Algeria. It is an interesting piece of historico-literary  reconstruction and reclamation of early Islamic female thoughts and activism.  

In Loin de Mdine, the rebelliousness of women assumes a variety of interconnected forms.  The essay  also  provides  philosophical, social and religious commentaries on a past precolonial patriarchal age, presenting  really majestic women of the past  who by their action and speech question the present reality of Islamic fundamentalism / ineffective nationalist theory that excludes and dispossesses women.  These resurrected female voices  thus provide an  additional link in the continuum of African women’s literary history.

In Rahman’s essay, Assia Djebar (pseudonym of Fatima-Zohra Imalayen — one of North Africa’s most widely-acclaimed writers) introduces the concept of ijtihad which she defines as the spirit of revolt that encourages believers to leave home and seek knowledge.  With regard to women, she ties this quest for knowledge to spatial displacement through movement. Early Islam, Rahman credits Djebar as saying, affirms this religious  mandate to seek knowledge because of the divine revelation “to read” given to the unlettered  Prophet Muhammad.  And it is well-known that the Prophet  supported his daughter Fatima  passionately, thus conferring on his daughter (and by extension, on women in general) “more power in a social order that privileges the husband.”  

Therefore, the Prophet’s liberal attitude towards his daughter (and women by extension) empowers Assia Djebar in Loin de Mdine (Far from Medina)  to reclaim for Islamic women a heritage of female struggle, sacrifice and independence that, according to Djebar, dates back even to the time of the Arabic pre-Islamic foremother Hagar, wife to Abraham.  Djebar’s  journey into history for validation of her revolutionary  views is a fascinating exercise as the writer pinpoints the  exact moment of  rupture between early spiritual Islam and its political arm – a conflict that resulted in the silencing and exclusion of  women from an active social order. This essay successfully resurrects the forgotten voices of those exceptional women of early Islam from Hagar onwards, dubbed “women in movement” – daughters of  Ishmael – who resisted and can still as  “women of the verb” – Djebar’s term for intellectual women — resist being victims of dispossession, confinement, nihilism and disappearance.

Rahman’s historico-literary reconstruction proves to be lucid and hard-hitting as  it revalues Islamic traditions, intrepidly  indicting Arabia and Algeria for their misogyny and blind paternal faith turned into law.  All contemporary Muslim “women of the verb” are exhorted to struggle and survive by keeping alive the collective spirit of struggle which women of yesterday despite their confinement passed on to them.  Consequently, women’s writings ensure that female voices are not omitted from cultural history; by making use of figurative and  actual travel, Djebar uses movement in space as a trope for the recovery of Algerian women’s history.  

Rahman’s essay is a metaphor of movement between archival and living texts, a work of retrieval of “dead female bodies” from the obscurity of antiquity to be used as paradigms of “living female voices.”  Rahman applauds Djebar for playing the role of a global facilitator since by  using language to give voice to  those  history has repressed, Djebar’s  female characters move then from silence to speech.  Criticized for being  apolitical, Djebar’s incisive response that “the cultural always enfolds the political” challenges the relegation of the poetic discourse to a sacred plane separate from politics, for Djebar believes that she is using her poetic discourse  to restructure  relations between politics and poetics.  

Finally, Rahman’s essay adopts  an interpretive, revisionist approach that reveals for contemporary study the true value of the novel Loin de Mdine as a vital link in the heritage of female intellectual continuum.  Assia Djebar, “woman of the verb”  par  excellence, and “woman in movement for ijtihad” views her novelistic adventure into the written  sources of history as her very valid personal response to, first, the rise of fundamentalism in Islamic public life, and then, to Islam’s unsanctioned disempowerment of women.  As does Senegalese Muslim writer Mariama B, Rahman observes that “Djebar’s strategic attack on historical Islam is one launched while she follows the percepts of the Qur’an and the Hadith that call on the believers to engage in an interrogation of their faith.” The “hymn” that brings Loin de Mdine to a close testifies to the power of life that ressurects a dead past, linking it to a living present.  Thus, for Djebar and for women, writing becomes an act of healing for historical inequities.

In the vein of Rahman’s essay Deirdre Heistad Bucher‘s “Maghribian Tales of Kinship, Religion, Revolt and Exile” covering Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia (part of the Naghrib region), examines the interconnectedness of women located within similar colonial, nationalist and kin-based systems.  Heistad’s  critical lens peers through the prism of  works  by Algerian-born Malika Mokkedem.  Again, just as Rahman does, Heistad argues that  Islamic Shari’a laws provide the base kin and family structures that make for the nullification of  women’s active existence.  And just  as is stated in Assia Djebar’s Loin de Medine, Bucher’s essay reiterates that post-independence disillusionment for women always follows in the wake of joint gender nationalist struggles which, rather than the expected rewards, brings nothing but decreased autonomy for women after the struggles.  

As is recently validated  in the case of U.S-ruled Iraq, one of the first acts of the largely male dominated Iraqi Governing Council was to  attempt to enact laws that would curtail the visibility of women in public and work places.  Heistad’s thesis is that  Shar’ia determines gender roles since the social (and not the spiritual)  interpretation of Islamic laws  sanctions the subordinate status given to women by vesting control over women on their male kin and husbands.  Heistad’s essay follows the parameters set out in other essays of this collection by presenting women of strength – women like Zohra and Leila who reinvest their suffering into resilience and finally into empowerment.  

These are women who revisiting the oral past  – cultural nomadism (Malika  Mokkedem’s term) – see in female storytelling a survival art-tool, women who now manipulate this tool into modern feminine writing to enable them  achieve both literary and spatial nomadism  – a metaphor enabling women to go beyond scenarios of madness and suicide, to reject their disempowering victim status and, rather use their ambiguous social status – a position Mokkedem calls  ‘entre-deux’ – in betweeness –  to create new sites of  resistance, and thus reclaim their voice.  Definitely, the Mokkedm women in Heistad’s essay are survivors. 

Similarly, M’bar N’Gom  presents  “The Recovered Voice: Body and Writing in The Princess of Tiali by Nafissatou Niang Diallo” as a study of  traditional women’s activities in both precolonial orature and post-colonial feminine written discourse. Modern francophone feminist writing, true to its French counterpart, views the female body not only as a subversive tool for recovering women’s lost place in a patriarchal society but also  as  fodder for a written discourse used to reclaim cultural and linguistic territory lost to the colonizing French.  

Woman’s body and woman’s writing become a symbolic trope for double emancipation – gender and racial.  The female hero that Nafissatou Niang Diallo unleashes onto the literary landscape of La Princesse de Tiali (1987) is Fary who as  a member of a despised caste system has all the obstacles stacked against her – griote, underclass, Islamic and a woman.

Through a judicious use of her feminine attractions – beauty and body – she makes an advantageous marriage as fourth wife  to the despised Prince of Tiali, Bocar Djiwan Malick, and thereby ensures the social security and survival of her class and ethnic group, secures  its unfettered practice of Islam and also an equitable treatment of women through out the kingdom.  N’Gom’s essay harmonizes with the premise of this collection as it presents Fary as the kind of  traditional woman sorely needed for her qualities of intrepid courage, resilience, functional selflessness –  qualities that combat and rupture not just the subjugation of women by a masculinist cultural order but assure women respect through  resurrecting the hitherto  stifled and negated black female “I” and woman’s imprisoned voice.

Blessing Ogamba-Diala‘s essay examines the issue of non-conformism in the attitudes of Farah’s fictional women towards their cultural environment.  Nuruddin Farah, a gynandrist, presents thinking women who even, though they encounter obstacles in the form of aspects of  traditional strictures and anti-women Islamic interpretation of the Shari’a kinship laws, still manage to devise functional strategies to enable them live life on their own terms.  

Echoing the high symbolism of Sembne’s writings, Farah’s fictional technique equates the oppression, rape and brutalization his women suffer with the sufferings which the country, Somalia itself, suffers at the hands of colonial masters.  The religious and social scenarios of Farah’s novels differ in no way from the situations presented of the  Northern African Maghreb region by Rahman and Heistad.

On her part, Marlene de la Cruz-Guzmn examines the position of women in Zimbabwean  nationalist liberation culture.  Yvonne Vera’s Butterfly Burning evaluates the effects of internalized oppression, the issue of  reproductive rights, and a stifling patriarchal hegemonic order on the average Zimbabwean woman.  The essay is an exploration of a woman’s journey toward self-empowerment and fulfillment. 

The story told by Yvonne Vera  inaugurates a wave of modern Zimbabwean feminist thought. Putting on center stage a protagonist whose background – an adoptive mother – speaks of  a strong  feminine consciousness, Phephelaphi, by falling in love, unconsciously subjugates herself to a male dominance similar in a symbolic fashion to what her countrymen and women are both experiencing  under British rule, but which women alone would later experience under UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) rule. 

Thus, some interlocking systems of  oppression  – race, class and gender – come into play. From her self-inflicted state of inferiorization, Phephelaphi would go through a stage of  apprenticeship, self-educating growth and individuation to finally emerge into a state of feminist consciousness that empowers her to reclaim her own individualism, able to manipulate her own destiny.  

It is worth mentioning, however, that Phephelaphi’s  final choice of  suicide as a solution to her problems, radical though it seems, is not an option this anthology  espouses, or advocates; if viable strides are to be made in the quest for authentic gender equality, the quality of women needed are those who prove themselves resilient enough to want to survive, struggle and emerge triumphantly transcending in order to correct the lop-sided gender equation inherent in many cultures.

Lena Ampadu’s essay brings women from the traditional landscape of orature to the modern literate age with its stresses and conflicts as she  examines “The Politics of Gender in the Writings of Selected Southern African Writers: Bessie Head, Tsitsi Dangarembga and J. Nozipo Maraire.”  Just as in Efuru (1966), Flora Nwapa uses the art of “gossip” to  empower her women characters, the use of  the female conversational trope of “gossip” impels Ampadu to examine writings by two Southern African women – Dangarembga and Maraire.  

Gossip is correctly validated as a legitimate instrument of social relations and a medium by which women help and console one another in a patriarchal setting  where they are at best pushed to the margin.  Gossip and Orature graduate to contemporary literary forms in which women writers from South Africa and Zimbabwe subsume themes  that are of  interest and relevance to female lives and which they use to advance female social progress.  Because the women’s quest towards modernism comes into conflict with traditional expectations and practices, education and enlightened female bonding are embraced as tools for personal,  socio-economic and political survival.  

Nevertheless, in their stories, Dangarembga and Maraire remain faithful to the traditional wisdom distilled in oral literature – a wisdom by which orature is transformed into a modern narrative trope that is both enabling and empowering to South African women in their post-Apartheid struggle to promote gender issues,  present women in changing roles as capable, functional human beings. Illustratively, Maraire’s Zenzele plays a unifying role as she journeys across Africa in search of her father whom she discovers as Baba Africa. 

Thus, traditionalism extends its tentacles of wisdom into modernism as Baba Africa employs a cultural metaphor of the scattered seeds in a Pan-African ideal that goes beyond Womanism to unify Blacks. Black people’s  success  worldwide is seen symbolically as the legitimate fruition of the scattered African seeds whose roots are deep and “link us together.”

“Spirituality  in African Traditional Community — Art, Orature  and Women Priestesses / Diviners” spans African and Diasporan  cultures examining Black women’s activities as dynamic agents of socio-economic growth and cultural-spiritual life.  Essay’s contention is that African women have produced and transmitted abroad undefiled communal esthetic heritage in art and folklore and have functioned as priestesses, diviners and healers. As transmitters of cultural-historical knowledge, women by their activities  essentially contradict their gender-based relegation to the domestic sphere. Evidence abounds that women use art-forms to reconstruct aspects of pristine African communal life. 

Women’s art is also embodied  in women’s literature such as  folktales and legends in dramatic performance mode. The female art of painting shrines and burial places has even impelled some analysts to conclude that uri (uli) artform, for instance,  may have inspired Igbo religion.  This seamless transition from a cultural to a spiritual role  is seen in women’s participation in the otherwise male preserve of masquerading and in their devotion to exclusive female cults as priestesses of water deities; this role ensures for women significant freedom from male domination while it highlights female cultural, economic and  religious achievements. 

This essay therefore examines  the expansion and transition of women’s leadership role from the cultural into the spiritual as portrayed in texts where an ordinary woman by day may by night be transformed  into a formidable priestess and diviner sometimes endowed with psychic healing powers.  Furthermore, this research  follows the expansion of African women’s cultural activities into the Diasporan milieux  where  women are seen functioning  as a  spiritual medium of  racial authenticity.  Female  psychic heroes often have to dig  below subconscious layers of materialism in order to discover the authentic Self and then proceed  from dystopia to functional eutopia,  and in the process mold new generations of women with a heightened gender consciousness.  This essay’ s tripartite folkloric and spiritual journey commences from the nurturing African shores, continues through the mystical Ibo Caribbean Landing, and lands on  the African America slave-landscape. 

Thus, this anthology fulfills that  desideratum  envisioned in its lead essay which heralds the much-anticipated connectedness between women of Africa and the African diaspora since they share a common destiny despite history and distance.  Literary bridges, facilitated and enhanced by modern communication systems, span time and continental voids and, in the process transport black women writers to discover webs and threads of isolated female experiences and the commonality that link these fragments.  By pooling resources together, and in union with black men worldwide, black women writers  will  help to rebuild black families, heal the wounds of racism / colonialism,  and break the vicious cycle  of racial, economic, class and gender oppression.  

This wholeness is the true ideal and goal of Womanist poetics in Africa and its Diaspora.   It is a goal realizable  only when, with a common  purpose and one voice, writers of African descent speak on the esthetics and poetics of Black creativity and the state of  the race (“Theorizing the Feminist Novel: Women and The State of African Literature Today”).

Finally, the women of vision examined in this anthology — fictive or real-life — have been highlighted (their shortcomings notwithstanding) as active agents  of culture-transmission.  By their artistic, economic, political and spiritual achievements, they have become for modern women of  Africa and the African diaspora, and indeed for all women of tomorrow, inspiration for a multi-faceted activism.

Dr. Rose Ure Mezu

Rose Ure Mezu, ed. A History of Africana Women’s Literature. Baltimore: Black Academy Press, 2004

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Other essays by Dr. Rose Ure Mezu:

An Africana Blueprint for Living in the 3rd Millennium Global Community1: An Essay

Pope John Paul II: A Life with a Mission: A Mission of Grace and Moral Strength

A History of Africana Women’s Literature   (Introduction)

Africana Women: Their Historic Past and Future Activism

Black Nationalists: Reconsidering: Du Bois, Garvey, Booker T., & Nkrumah (Introduction)

Chinua Achebe The Man and His Works (Introduction)

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Mockingbirds at Jerusalem (poetry Manuscript)

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar’s changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America’s economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan’s bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar’s dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power–and the enormous risks–of the dollar’s worldwide reign.  The Economy

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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updated 13 October 2007




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