Keisha Blain

Set the World on Fire

Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom

University of Pennsylvania Press 2018

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network April 26, 2018 Lilian Calles Barger

Keisha N. Blain teaches African American and gender and women’s history at the University of Pittsburg. Her book Set the World on Fire: Black...

Keisha N. Blain teaches African American and gender and women’s history at the University of Pittsburg. Her book Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) tells the story of an overlooked group of black women leaders in the aftermath of a declining Marcus Garvey’s black nationalist movement of the 1920s. Building on numerous religious and political ideologies, Garveyite women organized black workers from the Mississippi Delta to Harlem and built transnational alliances in the pursuit of global black liberation and nationalism. They followed strategies such the Greater Liberia Bill seeking funding from the U.S. government for black emigration to Africa. In doing so, they formed unlikely alliances and remained outside the established civil rights organizations tapping the frustrated aspirations of thousands of African Americans in mid-century America.  Over a period of four decades, they never gave up on their dream of a return to Africa and building a black nation recognized on the international stage.  Set the World on Fire, offers a continuous link between the nationalism of the Garvey movement and Black Power of the 1960s in which women were key.

This episode of New Books in American Studies was produced in cooperation with the Society for U.S. Intellectual History.


Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her current book project is entitled The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology, forthcoming in 2018 from Oxford University Press.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial