Black Ideological Perspectives
Pan Africanism, also known as Black Nationalism, is and was a movement that serves to attempt to unite not only the African nations, but also now people of color all over the globe. The movement, which has had both violent and nonviolent repercussions and consequences, in some ways furthered the status of Afro-Americans in America, but in many ways also fostered stereotypes that unfortunately carries on to this day.
The movement itself began by attempting to “cultivate unity” amongst people of color throughout the world. It found an early leader in influential Afro-American Civil Rights leader W. E. B. Du Bois. This is very important—Du Bois was a very important figure in the Unites States, and was well respected by both races. The movement began in London in the early 20th century, and Du Bois’ influence could be felt on both sides of the Atlantic (Pan-American, 2013).
Even before this, the concept of Black Nationalism was apparent in America. In order to protect themselves from social oppression, during the late 18th century and early 19th century, some Afro-Americans banded together in towns whose only residents were people of color (Black Nationalism, 2013).
There was also the idea of the “back to Africa” movement. Starting after the turn of the century, and partially fueled by these African-American settlements, there rose a large movement for people of color in America to move back to Africa. A main figure in this movement was Marcus Garvey–a name very significant later on, as a main influence on Civil Rights Leader Malcolm X (Black Nationalism, 2013).
In addition, Marcus Garvey formed the Nationalist organization called the UNIA. He put out a weekly newspaper called The Negro World, which had worldwide circulation and gained him negative attention by the large Western powers, including the United States, Great Britain, and France. In fact, it was pressure from these governments that forced Garvey to abandon the colony in Africa he was trying to set up. The Western powers felt it necessary to trap African Americans in their position in this way, and surely added to the turbulence of the Civil Rights movement to come (Pan-Africanism, 2011).
Garvey was not easily silenced–in August of 1920 he convened what was dubbed the International Conventions of the Negro Peoples of the World. There were in attendance people of color from all over the world, and they were able to adopt the Declaration of the Rights of the Negro People of the World. Some of the achievements that came from this was the adoption of the African flag, as well as called for “the complete control of our social institutions without interference by any alien race or races.” Although Garvey was elected provisional President of Africa, this was not recognized by other Black Nationalism groups (Pan-Africanism, 2011).
These early movements had a great impact on the Civil Rights Movement to come. Although the early 20th century was certainly not as turbulent as the 1940’s and 1950’s, it certainly set the tone and foundation for the Movement. It is certainly understandable where the violence fueled by angst of the African American came from when examining even early attempts at establishing a culture they could call their own. Not only were African Americans discriminated against in social and economic ways, these restrictions also stunted the growth of a brilliant and vibrant culture that certainly, at base, stemmed from the Pan African Movement.
“Black Nationalism and Independence Movements.” Oxford AASC: Focus On. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://www.oxfordaasc.com/public/features/archive/0908/index.jsp>.
“Pan-African Movement.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/664787/Pan-African-movement>.
“Pan–Africanism.” Pan-Africanism. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2013. <http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africanaage/essay-pan-africanism.html>.