BLACK LIBERATION: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United Stales and South Africa by George M. Fredrickson

BLACK LIBERATION: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United Stales and South Africa

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This look at the nature of black protest in South Africa and the US is a profound and necessary contribution to the field of black studies. History professor Fredrickson (Stanford; White Supremacy, 1981, etc.) puts forth the general thesis that, in both countries, black leaders were motivated not by a desire to switch places with their oppressors but by a wish to create a truly equal, race-blind polity that hewed to the best of Western democratic philosophy. Through an analysis that ranges from the early 19th century to today, he demonstrates that violent rebellion had no real presence in either society until the 1960s. Frederick Douglass, New York Globe editor T. Thomas Fortune, and Martin Luther King in the US, and early Cape political leader A.K. Soga and Nelson Mandela in South Africa, among others, all proposed working within the system to make it better for all people. Fredrickson demonstrates how ideologies as diverse as nationalism, communism, Christianity, capitalism, pan-Africanism, and populism were combined and adapted by both movements toward this end. He also explains how thoroughly aware the black leaders in the two societies were of one another, viewing their own struggles as part of a larger fight for black humanity everywhere. According to the author, Marcus Garvey's pan-Africanist movement, for example, had a great impact on black political thought in South Africa, with one acolyte founding the ANC's branch in the Western Cape. Yet Garvey's rhetoric of self-determination was, at least in the case of former president-general of the ANC Z.R. Mahabane, wed to a belief that the future of South Africa must include ""the full and free cooperation of all white and black races of the land."" Showing the stunning parallels in the politics of black peoples on both sides of the Atlantic, this offers definitive proof of the robust continuity of black freedom struggles.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.