Recently, Vincent Hiribarren (expert programmer; all-round good guy) and myself have been working on an interactive mapping project based around my PhD research into the development of black international connections between the United States and South Africa from 1945 to 1960 (play above video for further details or check it out here). This project attempts to map the travels of prominent black individuals between the United States and South Africa during the early Cold War. By examining the nature and circumstances of these journeys we hope to highlight the domestic and international forces that policed African American and black South African travel in this period and attempted to exert control over black mobility more generally.
Between 1945-1960 in the United States and South Africa attempts were made by both national governments to sure up their borders to prevent the influx of any potentially ‘subversive’ or ‘disruptive’ foreign influences that would bring about international criticism of their racial policies. As a result the ability of African Americans to travel, to link up with like-minded individuals and collaborate on similar issues relating to their respective racial situations, was drastically reduced throughout this period. The individuals who did travel were often only able to do so if they were able to claim legitimate anticommunist credentials, refused to involve themselves in overtly political projects, or were involved in certain forms of ‘respectable’ religious work. If these individuals failed to live-up to these sanctions passports were revoked and visa would inevitably be denied.
This is an interactive project and is far from complete. When launched online on its own website we hope to invite people to submit the names and details of individuals who travelled between these two spaces so we can add them to the map. This project may also be expanded out to encompass broader geographical spaces and a greater span of time.
If anybody out there knows of any individuals who travelled between the U.S. and South Africa in this period or has any information on the people that already feature it would be great to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.