Black Skin, Blue Books

Black Skin, Blue Books: African Americans and Wales, 1845-1945

Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
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  • Book Info
    Black Skin, Blue Books
    Book Description:

    This is a ground breaking comparative study of the fascinating connections between African Americans and the Welsh, beginning in the era of slavery and concluding with the experiences of African American GIs in wartime Wales.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2532-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. General Editor’s Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    M. Wynn Thomas
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Daniel G. Williams
  5. Illustrations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    In the summer of 1911 – three years before the outbreak of the First World War, and eight years before the race riots sweeping through Britain and the United States reached their respective peaks in Cardiff and Chicago – the British Empire was celebrated in all its gaudy splendour at the investiture of the prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle, and at the coronation of George V in London.¹ That summer also saw a remarkable array of the world’s leading politicians and intellectuals gathered in imperial London for the Universal Races Congress. The congress took place from 26 to 29...

  7. 1 Black Skin, Blue Books: Frederick Douglass, Abolitionism and Victorian Wales
    (pp. 20-75)

    Having briefly visited his father’s birthplace, Hay-on-Wye, in 1883, the celebrated American novelist William Dean Howells returned to Wales in 1904 to travel widely among a people whom he described as his ‘co-racials’. ¹ He found some elements of Welsh culture surprising, from the ‘more than mid-Asian remoteness’ of the place names, to the popularity of the blackface minstrels that he encountered in Aberystwyth and Llandudno.

    They dote upon Niggers, as they call them, with a brutality unknown among us except to the vulgarest white men and boys, and the negroes themselves in moments of exasperation. Negro minstrelsy is almost...

  8. 2 ‘In the Wide Margin’: Modernism and Ethnic Renaissance in Harlem and Wales
    (pp. 76-141)

    ‘The Schmeling fight against the Englishman Tommy Farr, should be presented as a world championship fight’, argued Joseph Goebbels, the Reich minister of public enlightenment and propaganda, in 1937.¹ Tommy Farr, born in Blaenclydach into the large family of an immigrant miner from Cork, was no Englishman, and his fight with Max Schmeling never took place. The American James Braddock had held the world heavyweight boxing title since 1935, and the expectation was that the emerging African American ‘brown bomber’, Joe Louis, would take it from him. Schmeling frustrated those expectations for, having knocked Louis out in the twelfth round...

  9. 3 ‘They feel me a part of that land’: Paul Robeson, Race and the Making of Modern Wales
    (pp. 142-207)

    Paul Robeson’s death on 23 January 1976 was one of the first significant events to take place in America’s bicentennial year. A few months later a group of poets from the United States marked the two hundred years of their nation’s independence by embarking on a tour of the British Isles. The poets visited several major cities, but in an improvised detour to their itinerary the African American poet Michael S. Harper accompanied Denise Levertov to the Welsh village of Abercanaid.¹ Harper’s ‘Visit to Abercanaid’ is dedicated to Denise, but is addressed to her mother, Beatrice, who was born in...

  10. 4 The Invisible Man’s Welsh Routes: Ralph Ellison in Wartime Wales
    (pp. 208-252)

    In his introduction to the thirtieth-anniversary edition ofInvisible Manthe African American novelist Ralph Ellison recounted the gestation of his seminal novel as follows:

    I had published yet another story in which a young Afro-American seaman, ashore in Swansea, South Wales, was forced to grapple with the troublesome ‘American’ aspects of his identity after white Americans had blacked his eye during a wartime blackout on the Swansea street called Straight (no, his name wasnotSaul, nor did he become a Paul!). But here the pressure toward self-scrutiny came from a group of Welshmen who rescued him and surprised...

  11. Conclusion: 1945
    (pp. 253-260)

    Narratives of the making of modern multicultural Britain conventionally begin with the arrival of theEmpire Windrushat Tilbury on 22 June 1948, carrying 492 passengers from Jamaica.¹ However, the critic Hazel Carby – professor of African American studies at Yale and herself the daughter of a Welsh mother and a Jamaican father – has recently suggested that British multiculturalism ‘has its origins in official responses to the presence of black American troops and West Indian civilian and Royal Air Force personnel on British soil during World War II’.² Drawing on David Reynolds’s detailed research, and adopting a Foucauldian approach...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 261-312)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 313-344)
  14. Index
    (pp. 345-360)