Pride or Prejudice? Black Lives Matter and the Struggle Against Confederate Monuments
Dr. Ousmane Power-Greene
Tuesday, November 12 at 7 p.m. in the Brooks M. O’Brien Auditorium/East Academic Building
Debates over monuments and memorials to the Confederacy often center on the uses of public space and the allocation of tax dollars, while the bigger question slips away: How should the United States—or any nation—confront acts of inhumanity perpetuated by the state? Or other questions, such as: Has the process of removing Confederate statues actually avoided addressing injustices and thus missed an opportunity to begin a process of healing?
Dr. Power-Greene completed his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Before arriving at Clark in 2007, he taught courses at the University of Connecticut-Storrs, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
A specialist in African American social and political movements, Professor Power-Greene teaches courses for undergraduates and graduate students on American history with a focus on African American internationalism and comparative social and political movements.
- Against Wind and Tide: The African American Struggle against the Colonization Movement is available in the Landmark College Library
Against Wind and Tide tells the story of African Americans’ battle against the American Colonization Society (ACS), founded in 1816 with the intention to return free blacks to its colony Liberia. Although ACS members considered free black colonization in Africa a benevolent enterprise, most black leaders rejected the ACS, fearing that the organization sought forced removal. As Ousmane K. Power-Greene’s story shows, these African American anti-colonizationists did not believe Liberia would ever be a true “black American homeland.”
In this study of anti-colonization agitation, Power-Greene draws on newspapers, meeting minutes, and letters to explore the concerted effort on the part of nineteenth century black activists, community leaders, and spokespersons to challenge the American Colonization Society’s attempt to make colonization of free blacks federal policy. The ACS insisted the plan embodied empowerment. The United States, they argued, would never accept free blacks as citizens, and the only solution to the status of free blacks was to create an autonomous nation that would fundamentally reject racism at its core. But the activists and reformers on the opposite side believed that the colonization movement was itself deeply racist and in fact one of the greatest obstacles for African Americans to gain citizenship in the United States.
Power-Greene synthesizes debates about colonization and emigration, situating this complex and enduring issue into an ever broader conversation about nation building and identity formation in the Atlantic world.
- King Cotton's Ghost: African Americans and the Legacy of Slavery in the Cotton Kingdom PDF