The Americans Are Coming! African Americans, Africa and Black International Protest

Recently some exciting new scholarship on the connections between the United States and South Africa has emerged, including Robert Trent Vinson’s excellent book ‘The Americans Are Coming! Dreams of African American Liberation in Segregationist South Africa‘.

For those of you interested in exploring these connections further I have complied a small sample of (relatively) recent work that traces the way in which African Americans and Africans influenced and were inspired by one another when protesting racism. This list is not all inclusive, but merely represents some excellent recent scholarship in the field:


  • Borstelmann, Thomas. Apartheid’s Reluctant Uncle: The United States and Southern Africa in the Early Cold War. New York: OUP USA, 1993.
  • Borstelmann, Thomas. The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena. New ed. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2003.
  • Brooks, Pamela E. Boycotts, Buses, and Passes: Black Women’s Resistance in the U.S. South and South Africa. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2008.
  • Dudziak, Mary L. Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy. Princeton University Press, 2002.
  • Frederickson, George M. Black Liberation: a Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United States and South Africa. Oxford: Oxford U.P., 1995.
  • Frederickson, George M. White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History. Oxford: Oxford University Press Inc, 1982.
  • Gaines, Kevin K. American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights Era. The University of North Carolina Press, 2008.
  • Gish, Steven. Alfred B. Xuma: African, American, South African. New York: New York University Press, 2000.
  • Horne, Gerald. Mau Mau in Harlem?: The U.S. and the Liberation of Kenya. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • Kelley, Robin D. G. Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012.
  • Meriwether, James Hunter. Proudly We Can Be Africans: Black Americans and Africa, 1935-1961. The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.
  • Noer, Thomas J. Cold War and Black Liberation: United States and White Rule in Africa, 1948-68. University of Missouri Press, 1985.
  • Sherwood, Marika. Kwame Nkrumah: The Years Abroad, 1935-1947. Legon, Ghana: Freedom Publications, 1996.
  • Von Eschen, Penny M. Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-1957. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997.
  • Von Eschen, Penny M. Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War. Harvard University Press, 2004.


  • Anderson, Carol. “Rethinking Radicalism: African Americans and the Liberation Struggles in Somalia, Libya, and Eritrea, 1945–1949.” Journal of The Historical Society 11, no. 4 (December 1, 2011): 385–423.
  • Chrisman, Laura. “Rethinking Black Atalntacism.” The Black Scholar 30, no. 30 (2000).
  • DeRoche, Andy. “KK, the Godfather, and the Duke: Maintaining Positive Relations Between Zambia and the USA – in Spite of Nixon’s Other Priorities.” Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies 12, no. 1 (2011): 97.
  • Masilela, Ntongela. “The ‘Black Atlantic’ and African Modernity in South Africa.” Research in African Literatures 27, no. 4 (December 1, 1996): 88–96.
  • Meriwether, James H. “‘Worth a Lot of Negro Votes’: Black Voters, Africa, and the 1960 Presidential Campaign.” The Journal of American History 95, no. 3 (December 1, 2008): 737 –763.
  • Plummer, Brenda Gayle. “‘Below the Level of Men’: African Americans, Race, and the History of U.S. Foreign Relations.” Diplomatic History 20, no. 4 (October 1996): 639–650.

Nick Grant


About perspectivesonafrica

Research and news about Africa
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