Thursday, June 16, 2016

Book Review: We Are an African People by Russell J. Rickford

ISBN: 0199861471
Published: February 1st, 2016
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Received: Netgalley
Read from June 11th to 13th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
By 1970, more than 60 "Pan African nationalist" schools, from preschools to post-secondary ventures, had appeared in urban settings across the United States. The small, independent enterprises were often accused of teaching hate and were routinely harassed by authorities. Yet these institutions served as critical mechanisms for transmitting black consciousness. Founded by activist-intellectuals, the schools strove not simply to bolster the academic skills and self-esteem of inner-city African-American youth but also to decolonize minds and embody the principles of self-determination and African identity.
In We Are An African People, historian Russell Rickford traces the brief lives of these autonomous black institutions created to claim some of the self-determination that the integrationist civil rights movement had failed to provide. Influenced by Third World theorists and anticolonial movements, organizers of the schools saw formal education as a means of creating a vanguard of young activists devoted to the struggle for black political sovereignty throughout the world. Most of the schools were short-lived, but their stories have much to tell us about Pan Africanism as a social and intellectual movement and as a key part of an indigenous black nationalism.
A former journalist, Rickford uses a virtually unknown movement to explore black nationhood and a particularly fertile period of political, cultural, and social revitalization that envisioned an alternate society.


This book is dense. It's offers as much information as you could want, but because it requires that you're thinking and taking in a lot of information, it is not always an easy read. This is a book meant for people who go into it with a high level of interest in its topic. As someone studying to be an educator, I viewed this information as important for me to know and take in.

The one thing I struggled with while reading was keeping track of the dates. The various chapters sometimes jump around in time, and as someone who struggles to remember dates, I did struggle with keeping track of when things were happening, particularly in comparison to each other. However, that was by far my own failing rather than the book's.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about independent black schools in America over time and who isn't afraid of the time commitment that comes from reading this book. It's a nice resource and full of information.

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

No comments:

Post a Comment