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Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom
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University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc. 2018
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In 1932, Mittie Maude Lena Gordon spoke to a crowd of black Chicagoans at the old Jack Johnson boxing ring, rallying their support for emigration to West Africa. In 1937, Celia Jane Allen traveled to Jim Crow Mississippi to organize rural black workers around black nationalist causes. In the late 1940s, from her home in Kingston, Jamaica, Amy Jacques Garvey launched an extensive letter-writing campaign to defend the Greater Liberia Bill, which would relocate 13 million black Americans to West Africa.
Gordon, Allen, and Jacques Garvey—as well as Maymie De Mena, Ethel Collins, Amy Ashwood, and Ethel Waddell—are part of an overlooked and understudied group of black women who take center stage in Set the World on Fire, the first book to examine how black nationalist women engaged in national and global politics from the early twentieth century to the 1960s. Historians of the era generally portray the period between the Garvey movement of the 1920s and the Black Power movement of the 1960s as one of declining black nationalist activism, but Keisha N. Blain reframes the Great Depression, World War II, and the early Cold War as significant eras of black nationalist—and particularly, black nationalist women's—ferment.
In Chicago, Harlem, and the Mississippi Delta, from Britain to Jamaica, these women built alliances with people of color around the globe, agitating for the rights and liberation of black people in the United States and across the African diaspora. As pragmatic activists, they employed multiple protest strategies and tactics, combined numerous religious and political ideologies, and forged unlikely alliances in their struggles for freedom. Drawing on a variety of previously untapped sources, including newspapers, government records, songs, and poetry, Set the World on Fire highlights the flexibility, adaptability, and experimentation of black women leaders who demanded equal recognition and participation in global civil society.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/18/2018
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780812294774
ASIN:
B0793JPP5N

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APA Citation (style guide)

Keisha N. Blain. (2018). Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom. University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Keisha N. Blain. 2018. Set the World On Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom. University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Keisha N. Blain, Set the World On Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom. University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc, 2018.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Keisha N. Blain. Set the World On Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom. University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc, 2018.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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In 1932, Mittie Maude Lena Gordon spoke to a crowd of black Chicagoans at the old Jack Johnson boxing ring, rallying their support for emigration to West Africa. In 1937, Celia Jane Allen traveled to Jim Crow Mississippi to organize rural black workers around black nationalist causes. In the late 1940s, from her home in Kingston, Jamaica, Amy Jacques Garvey launched an extensive letter-writing campaign to defend the Greater Liberia Bill, which would relocate 13 million black Americans to West Africa.
Gordon, Allen, and Jacques Garvey—as well as Maymie De Mena, Ethel Collins, Amy Ashwood, and Ethel Waddell—are part of an overlooked and understudied group of black women who take center stage in Set the World on Fire, the first book to examine how black nationalist women engaged in national and global politics from the early twentieth century to the 1960s. Historians of the era generally portray the period between the Garvey movement of the 1920s and the Black Power movement of the 1960s as one of declining black nationalist activism, but Keisha N. Blain reframes the Great Depression, World War II, and the early Cold War as significant eras of black nationalist—and particularly, black nationalist women's—ferment.
In Chicago, Harlem, and the Mississippi Delta, from Britain to Jamaica, these women built alliances with people of color around the globe, agitating for the rights and liberation of black people in the United States and across the African diaspora. As pragmatic activists, they employed multiple protest strategies and tactics, combined numerous religious and political ideologies, and forged unlikely alliances in their struggles for freedom. Drawing on a variety of previously untapped sources, including newspapers, government records, songs, and poetry, Set the World on Fire highlights the flexibility, adaptability, and experimentation of black women leaders who demanded equal recognition and participation in global civil society.

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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
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        Starred review from December 11, 2017
        Blain, assistant professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, illuminates an oft-ignored period of black nationalist and internationalist activism in the U.S.: the Great Depression, World War II, and early Cold War. Her engrossing study shows that much of this activism was led by African-American and Afro-Caribbean women. As racism intensified the sufferings of black Americans during the Depression, people of color in Africa and the Caribbean were increasingly agitated by British imperial rule; this circumstance encouraged female activists who had participated in Marcus Garvey’s movement to see the task of fighting white supremacy as one that united people of African descent across physical and political boundaries. Blain bolsters the roll of well-known black internationalists with less-familiar figures such as Chicago “street scholar” Mittie Maude Lena Gordon, who urged black Americans to emigrate to West Africa; Josephine Moody, who argued that black freedom could come only from the global overthrow of white power and urged African-Americans to “set the world on fire”; and Ethel Collins, who called on women to resist patriarchy within the black-nationalist movement. Adding essential chapters to the story of this movement, Blain expands current understanding of the central roles played by female activists at home and overseas.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        February 15, 2018

        Blain (history, Univ. of Pittsburgh; Charleston Syllabus) explores women's roles in the black nationalist movement between 1918 and the 1960s, profiling prominent figures, including Amy Jacques Garvey, Celia Jane Allen, and Mittie Maude Lena Gordon. All of these women were followers of Marcus Garvey, who espoused black nationalism and black capitalism along with patriarchal gender roles. However, as women became more involved in the movement, they eventually assumed leadership positions in defiance of Garvey's teachings and worked to redefine the message to be more feminist and inclusive. To accomplish this goal, they formed alliances with other minority groups and tailored press messages, with mixed effectiveness. A good portion of the analysis is spent on groups that advocated for returning to Africa. Blain also addresses the problematic aspects of black nationalism, including alliances made with white supremacists along with colonialist attitudes inherent in the "back to Africa" movement. VERDICT An enlightening analysis of the relationship between black nationalism and feminism. Recommended for scholars interested in the subject.--Rebekah Kati, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

        Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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In 1932, Mittie Maude Lena Gordon spoke to a crowd of black Chicagoans at the old Jack Johnson boxing ring, rallying their support for emigration to West Africa. In 1937, Celia Jane Allen traveled to Jim Crow Mississippi to organize rural black workers around black nationalist causes. In the late 1940s, from her home in Kingston, Jamaica, Amy Jacques Garvey launched an extensive letter-writing campaign to defend the Greater Liberia Bill, which would relocate 13 million black Americans to West Africa.
Gordon, Allen, and Jacques Garvey—as well as Maymie De Mena, Ethel Collins, Amy Ashwood, and Ethel Waddell—are part of an overlooked and understudied group of black women who take center stage in Set the World on Fire, the first book to examine how black nationalist women engaged in national and global politics from the early twentieth century to the 1960s. Historians of the era generally portray the period between the Garvey movement of the 1920s and the...

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Politics and Culture in Modern America
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tableOfContents

Introduction
Chapter 1. Women Pioneers in the Garvey Movement
Chapter 2. The Struggle for Black Emigration
Chapter 3. Organizing in the Jim Crow South
Chapter 4. Dreaming of Liberia
Chapter 5. Pan-Africanism and Anticolonial Politics
Chapter 6. Breaks, Transitions, and Continuities
Epilogue

Notes
Index
Acknowledgments

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      • description: History / United States / 20th Century
      • code: SOC001000
      • description: SOCIAL SCIENCE / Cultural & Ethnic Studies / American / African American & Black Studies