Why Blacks Left America for Africa: Interviews with Black Repatriates, 1971-1999

Why Blacks Left America for Africa: Interviews with Black Repatriates, 1971-1999

Why Blacks Left America for Africa: Interviews with Black Repatriates, 1971-1999

Why Blacks Left America for Africa: Interviews with Black Repatriates, 1971-1999

Synopsis

Why do Black Americans go to Africa? How do they react to their ancestral motherland? Why do some return to the States and others remain? Obviously, each has an individual story, but in these in-depth interviews, Professor Robert Johnson gives voice to many of their reasons and responses.

Excerpt

In the twentieth century, more than any other time in American history, we saw the rise of massive Black conceived and supported repatriation initiatives. Most well known was the Marcus Garvey Movement, which began in Jamaica in 1914, was brought to America in 1916, and continues to the present day under the leadership of Marcus Garvey Jr. Years later, as more African-Americans became exposed to Black nationalist ideologies in the 1970s and 1980s, interest in Africa began to develop rapidly among individuals.

Repatriation did not have its genesis in the twentieth century. Rather, it stretches back to the earliest slave ships when Africans found themselves bound for a foreign land and struggled to escape and make their way back home. Viewed in that context, it is the oldest expression of Black nationalism.

It was not, however, until the nineteenth century that Africans were able to return to Africa as part of any organizational efforts. Repatriation in the nineteenth century occurred primarily through the efforts of the American Colonization Society, but Black nationalist and revolutionary efforts were also instrumental. Under the leadership of Cinque, kidnapped Africans on the ship Amistad not only mutinied, but also demanded that they be taken back to Africa. This slave ship revolt occurred in 1839, and the Africans continued their struggles in the American courts until they were allowed to return to Africa in 1841 (United States v. Amistad, 40 U.S. 518 [1841]).

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