The links between African Americans and the global struggle for decolonization, particularly in Africa are well-documented. Facing similar kinds of repression that were rooted in systemic racism and the denial of political rights, Pan-Africanism became one expression of a transnational fight for equality. The first Pan-African Conference was held in 1900 in London, and in the wake of World War II, the joint struggles for civil rights in the United States and political independence from European powers heated up. Nicholas Grant
’s Winning Our Freedoms Together: African Americans and Apartheid, 1945–1960
(University of North Carolina Press, 2017) builds on the earlier work of scholars by focusing in closely on the connections between U.S. activists and black South Africans facing dual repression from anticommunism and racist regimes.
Grant begins by describing the factors that drove the U.S. government and South African governments together. Increasing financial investment in South Africa by American businessmen created economic linkages and anticommunism pushed the two governments into a Cold War alliance, with the South African government even trying to improve its anticommunist laws by consulting with American lawyers. From there, Grant goes on to describe various ways that African Americans and black South Africans were in conversation with one another. One chapter focuses on the effects of travel, while another focuses on print and musical culture. Grant examines the effect of anticommunist repression on the international black left as well as incarceration and the depictions of imprisonment before concluding with links between African American women and black South African women.
Zeb Larson is a PhD Candidate in History at The Ohio State University. His research is about the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.