The African-American Contribution to the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa: The Case of the African Liberation Support Committee, 1972-1979

By Erhagbe, Edward O. | Journal of Pan African Studies, September 2011 | Go to article overview

The African-American Contribution to the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa: The Case of the African Liberation Support Committee, 1972-1979


Erhagbe, Edward O., Journal of Pan African Studies


Introduction

At different times and for varied reasons, African-Americans had had cause to address the issue of their relationship with Africa. (2) The nineteenth century witnessed an increase in the articulation of programs that would enable them to contribute to Africa's development. For them, this was informed by their belief that they and African people on the continent were fighting a common racial battle against white oppression and exploitation. (3)

Evidence shows that even before the 1970s, African-Americans had for a long time been involved in the articulation and execution of plans that were meant to help the home of their early forebears. Such plans came within the context of emigration, colonization and back-to-Africa projects of African-Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries (Shepperson, 1960; Staudenraus, 1961; Essien-Udom, 1962; Redkey, 1969; Ullman, 1971; Harris, 1972; Weisbord, 1973; Contee, 1974; Griffith, 1975; Miller, 1975; Jacobs, 1982; Painter, 1988; and Erhagbe, 1996).

The Italo-Ethiopian Conflict of 1935-1941 that saw Italy invade and occupy Ethiopian territory also stirred new African-American interests in African affairs; and African-Americans showed solidarity with the Ethiopians and mobilized to assist them in their struggle (Ottley, 1943; Shepperson, 1953; Harris Jr., 1964; Drake, 1966; Asante, 1977, Chukuba, 1979 and Erhagbe and Ifidon,2008). This development, as observed by Franklin and Moss (1988:56), caused "even the most provincial among American Negroes (to) become internationally minded." It was in this tradition of being interested in developments in Africa that organizations were established in the African-American community, with the main objective of assisting the African population on the continent.

Unlike the back-to-Africa movements that envisaged a return to Africa in order to help re-build Africa, the new organizations believed in assisting African people in Africa by working in their locations in the Diaspora. Among these latter groups were the Council on African Affairs, (CAA) which was active in the 1940s and 50s (Contee, 1974: 117-133; Lynch, 1978), the American Society of African Culture (AMSAC) (see Drake, 1966 and Davis, 1966), and the American Negro Leadership Conference on Africa (ANLCA), (Davis, 1966, and Erhagbe, 1991). Hence, there was a renewed interest of African-Americans in the struggle for the liberation of the last bastion of colonialism and white-minority regimes in Africa in the early 1970's, and in this context of trying to actualize their objective of aiding the liberation of Africa, some African-Americans established the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC).

Through the activities of the ALSC, a good number of African-Americans got to identify with African causes in the New World. These activities of the ALSC clearly show that African-Americans were deeply interested in the plight of the African in Africa. Thus, beyond the intellectual influences on African liberation, Blacks in the United States also lent material, financial and other forms of concrete support to the African struggle. Furthermore, the ALSC emerged as an organization in the 1970s that directed Black nationalist organizations' attention to the issue of lending support to African liberation struggle; and the activities of the ALSC and like groups offer ample evidence of African people outside of Africa and continental African co-operation in the struggle for the liberation of the African continent.

Theoretical Framework

There has been a burgeoning of African Diaspora studies in recent times, especially in the United States and Africa (4). A major theme of these studies has been the issue of the varied and multi-dimensional ramifications of the relationship between Africans abroad and the African continent and its people (4). These studies have also surfaced within the broader theme of Pan-Africanism. Thus, this study is situated both within African Diaspora studies, and more especially Pan-Africanism. …

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