American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights Era

American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights Era

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Author/Contributor(s): Gaines, Kevin K
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Date: 02/01/2008
Binding: Paperback
Condition: NEW
In 1957 Ghana became one of the first sub-Saharan African nations to gain independence from colonial rule. Over the next decade, hundreds of African Americans--including Martin Luther King Jr., George Padmore, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, Richard Wright, Pauli Murray, and Muhammad Ali--visited or settled in Ghana. Kevin K. Gaines explains what attracted these Americans to Ghana and how their new community was shaped by the convergence of the Cold War, the rise of the U.S. civil rights movement, and the decolonization of Africa.

Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's president, posed a direct challenge to U.S. hegemony by promoting a vision of African liberation, continental unity, and West Indian federation. Although the number of African American expatriates in Ghana was small, in espousing a transnational American citizenship defined by solidarities with African peoples, these activists along with their allies in the United States waged a fundamental, if largely forgotten, struggle over the meaning and content of the cornerstone of American citizenship--the right to vote--conferred on African Americans by civil rights reform legislation.

When the West African nation of Ghana gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1957, people of African descent the world over celebrated the new nation as a beacon for their aspirations for freedom and self-determination. Over the next decade, hundreds of African Americans--including Martin Luther King Jr., George Padmore, W. E. B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, Richard Wright, Pauli Murray, C. L. R. James, and Muhammad Ali--visited or settled in Ghana. Kevin K. Gaines explains what attracted these expatriates to Ghana and how their new community was shaped by the convergence of the Cold War, the rise of the U.S. civil rights movement, and the decolonization of Africa.