Between Homeland and Motherland

Between Homeland and Motherland: Africa, U.S. Foreign Policy, and Black Leadership in America

Alvin B. Tillery
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 216
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt7v7q4
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  • Book Info
    Between Homeland and Motherland
    Book Description:

    In Between Homeland and Motherland, Alvin B. Tillery Jr. considers the history of political engagement with Africa on the part of African Americans, beginning with the birth of Paul Cuffe's back-to-Africa movement in the Federal Period to the Congressional Black Caucus's struggle to reach consensus on the African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000. In contrast to the prevailing view that pan-Africanism has been the dominant ideology guiding black leaders in formulating foreign policy positions toward Africa, Tillery highlights the importance of domestic politics and factors within the African American community.

    Employing an innovative multimethod approach that combines archival research, statistical modeling, and interviews, Tillery argues that among African American elites-activists, intellectuals, and politicians-factors internal to the community played a large role in shaping their approach to African issues, and that shaping U.S. policy toward Africa was often secondary to winning political battles in the domestic arena. At the same time, Africa and its interests were important to America's black elite, and Tillery's analysis reveals that many black leaders have strong attachments to the "motherland."

    Spanning two centuries of African American engagement with Africa, this book shows how black leaders continuously balanced national, transnational, and community impulses, whether distancing themselves from Marcus Garvey's back-to-Africa movement, supporting the anticolonialism movements of the 1950s, or opposing South African apartheid in the 1980s.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6101-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-13)

    On February 23, 1999, Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) took the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to deliver a speech in support of his signature legislative priority in the 106th Congress—the Human Rights, Opportunity, Partnership and Empowerment (HOPE) for Africa Act. In the speech, Representative Jackson urged his colleagues to embrace his HOPE bill to defend African nations against burgeoning “trade pressures” imposed by the United States and the World Trade Organization (WTO). In short, Jackson argued that the U.S. government should be working to extend more aid to the continent rather than forcing these nations to...

  5. 1 “NOT ONE WAS WILLING TO GO!”: The Paradoxes of “Liberia’s Offerings”
    (pp. 14-42)

    The U.S. Congress established formal diplomatic relations with Liberia in February 1862. A little less than one year later, on January 13, 1863, a delegation from the new ally disembarked in Washington, D.C., to pursue two goals. First, the Liberian envoys wanted to shore up diplomatic relations with the Abraham Lincoln administration; second, they hoped to stimulate interest in emigration among the black population of the United States. The historical record is largely silent about whether the delegates achieved their first goal; there is no evidence that the delegation met with Lincoln or any of his high-ranking deputies. We do...

  6. 2 “HIS FAILURE WILL BE THEIRS”: Why the Black Elite Resisted Garveyism and Embraced Ethiopia
    (pp. 43-71)

    On July 16, 1920, Marcus Mosiah Garvey sat perched in his office in Liberty Hall, the Harlem-based headquarters of his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), drafting letters. The focal point of his correspondence that day was to invite members of the black elite to attend the UNIA International Conference, which was to take place in Madison Square Garden later that month. W. E. B. Du Bois, one of the founders of the NAACP and the principal architect of the Pan-African Congress Movement, was at the top of Garvey’s invitation list.

    Garvey’s letter to Du Bois asked him to attend the...

  7. 3 PROTECTING “FERTILE FIELDS”: The NAACP and Africa during the Cold War
    (pp. 72-98)

    On June 6, 1946, an interracial crowd of more than 15,000 gathered in Madison Square Garden in New York City.¹ The attendees congregated at the behest of the Council on African Affairs (CAA) to demonstrate to the Truman administration and the fledgling United Nations the depth of support within U.S. civil society for policies that would hasten decolonization in Africa. The rally, which Hollis Lynch reports was the “most successful mass public meeting” of the organization, gave the leaders of the CAA hope that their eight years of toiling to raise the consciousness of the U.S. public about the evils...

  8. 4 “THE TIME FOR FREEDOM HAS COME”: Black Leadership in the Age of Decolonization
    (pp. 99-124)

    On February 17, 1961, Ralph Johnson Bunche addressed the delegations of the member states to the United Nations General Assembly. Although Bunche, who became the first black person to win the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1950 for his role as a mediator between Israel and the Arab states on behalf of the UN, had addressed the General Assembly many times before, this was undoubtedly one of the most difficult speeches that he had to make in his career.¹ This was so because Bunche, who was then serving in the capacity of undersecretary for special political affairs, took to the...

  9. 5 “WE ARE A POWER BLOC”: The Congressional Black Caucus and Africa
    (pp. 125-148)

    On July 16, 1999, Representative Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.; serving 1992–present) took to the floor of the House of Representatives to deliver a speech against the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Because the bill advocated the creation of free trade linkages between the United States and African farmers, a speech by Bishop, a southern Democrat with strong ties to labor unions and agricultural interests, against the measure should have been anything but news worthy on Capitol Hill. On this day, however, reporters, lobbyists, and even other members of Congress crowded into the House chamber to hear Bishop’s arguments against...

  10. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 149-156)

    The elite members of ethnic and racial minority groups have sought to influence U.S. foreign policy toward their ancestral homelands since at least the nineteenth century.¹ For more than two generations, political scientists and diplomatic historians have argued that transnationalism is the best theoretical vantage point for understanding the actions of these elites in the U.S. foreign policymaking arena.² According to this perspective, when the elite members of ethnic and racial minorities seek to carve out a distinctive voice on issues in U.S. foreign policy toward their ancestral homelands they are engaging in expressive behavior aimed at reifying their affective...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 157-194)
  12. Index
    (pp. 195-198)