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An African American and Latinx History of the United States

(ReVisioning American History #4)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  848 ratings  ·  136 reviews
An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights

Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged revisionist history, arguing that Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa—otherwise known as "The Global South"—were crucial to the development of
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published January 30th 2018 by Beacon Press
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Much like An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, this book is part of the ReVisioning American History series. Having just finished the former, I was stoked to see the latter on Edelweiss available for download and review, and immediately snapped it up.

This book covers the American Revolution through to present day, and covers everything from the juxtaposition of the American Revolution with the Haitian Revolution; the Civil War and Reconstruction; Jim Crow and Juan Crow laws; the
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Books like this are very important, for they shine a most valuable light on those corners of history that we tend to miss. And any time you look at history from the perspective of the oppressed and despised you are bound to come away with a new orientation. That orientation is explored here to great effect by Paul Ortiz who deftly demonstrates how African Americans were engaged in freedom struggles beyond their own.

The former enslaved joined with Mexicans in their struggle to throw off the rule
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
It's an important book that highlights the voices of those we don't hear about far too much. Author Ortiz takes the reader through what it says on the cover: from the Hatian Revolution to the international effects of the US Civil War, Ortiz gives us a history that is unfortunately silenced and perhaps lost in favor of another narrative.

Honestly, I felt this wasn't quite what I thought it would be. While I was glad to read a history that took us out of the United States and placed history in a mo
Quinton Banks
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really good synopsis of how Black and Brown people similarly struggle against racial capitalism. If you ever want a book that shows just how much organizing and unionizing has helped us, read this book. Comes with tons of citations for further reading too.
Lance Eaton
What if we reframed the history of the United States through social, cultural, and political lens of Latin America and African history. That is, most U.S. histories work from a European lens, invoking the influences, historical contexts, and politics of Europe in the making of the U.S. It's to be expected given how much U.S. history has been told in a way to appease white people at the cost of marginalizing and ignoring people of color. But Ortiz takes this approach and crafts a powerful narrati ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
I love a nice fat notes section
Juli Anna
Sep 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Whew, this one was a trudge! Ortiz approaches United States history through the lens of emancipatory internationalism, pointing to the ways in which social justice movements were informed by revolutions and movements throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Most of this is history we aren't generally exposed to in school, and is inspiring and illuminating. However, I found much of Ortiz's writing fairly dull, and the granular way that he approaches his subject matter wasn't the best for me. H ...more
Meg Petersen
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The author reframes history, not from the point of view of one racial or ethnic group, as is so often done, but rather through exploring and exposing the connections between and among what are often framed as separate struggles. I found it inspiring and energizing.
The author does assume a basic knowledge of history on the part of his readers, and departs from the idea of having us reenvision what we thought we knew. His work is well-documented and thorough. I highly recommend
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I really appreciated this book for offering a more in-depth history regarding African Americans and Latinx populations. There were so many important historical events, sometimes it felt a bit crammed in there as the book moved from one to the next fairly quickly. I may need to look to other books for more details about specific events; nevertheless, this is a great overview.
Megan Oza
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
At its core, America’s history is built on stolen land and fueled by an obsession with cheap labor all in the name of capitalism. Definitely worth reading!
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think the author did a phenomenal job at summarizing the history and injustices of minorities in America. Although the foundation of America’s principles were written to encourage justice and empowerment of self for every individual, the application was wrong and minorities are still experiencing the injustices for the people who were put in place to apply it. They created their own ignorant narrative of the words that were meant to give every individual a chance to take advantage of their God ...more
Edward Rathke
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book does what you want it to do and it remains entirely intersectional, which is important when talking about class struggle.

And this book is specifically about class struggle from the perspectives of black and latinx americans. Ortiz lays a lot of groundwork for the reader to understand how black and latinx class struggle has always been international in scope. So a decent chunk of the book deals with labor movements and emancipatory struggles across latin america, demonstrating how those
Bri T
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"American exceptionalism, the idea that the United States is the freest nation on earth, the champion of the oppressed, and can do no wrong-- or at least never intends to do wrong--is a myth". There are many great aspects of this book, starting with this book sheds light on paramount events in history that are missed in the telling of the history of the Americas. There are many lessons in this book that I am grateful that Ortiz brought to light here, but I am most impressed by the powerful narra ...more
Joe Colley
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To say that this book includes what most US history books have “left out” would almost be an injustice to the content presented. Not only does the typical American education ignore Black and Latinx agency since the very foundation of the country, it is also complicit in diminishing and hiding it as well. Ortiz does a tremendous job in bringing to light the vast contributions and leadership through an impressive amount of historical sources that made me so much more aware of the level of the hist ...more
Donna Bijas
“African Americans and Latinx people were forcibly brought or recruited to the United States to toil and do work that others would not do. Their labor built this nation, but they were not fairly compensated for their work. Instead, they were starved, tortured, traumatized, and murdered for attempting to exercise their rights that others took for granted.” A history lesson on the real United States that you won’t find in our history books. Not an easy read with massive amounts of statistics. Read ...more
Shari Suarez
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The perfect book for these troubling times. It's the history that we never learn about in school. It looks at the African American and Latinx contributions to history and social justice in the United States. It takes a look at over 200 years of American history and how the Global South figures into it. I highly recommend it.
Sadie McLaughlin
This book was extremely useful informative and easy to read! The author did a great job of packing in a lot of information in a clear and concise way. I learned a lot from this book and loved learning about events from a different perspective than the white-washed traditional view I was taught in school.
Katherine Congleton
Jul 24, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5. This isn’t the history book I was expecting. Rather than diving into the details of historical events, Ortiz assumes the reader already understands the basics of “what happened” and instead focuses on “why it matters.” (I found myself having to Google a historic event I’d never heard of every few pages.) Great insights, incredible analysis, but too much assumed prior knowledge required.
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Important read. Information and perspective we all need to know.
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-justice
"Whether one looks at events such as the making of the Underground Railroad to Mexico in the 1820s or the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike, it is an incontestable fact that the United States advances the most when its most oppressed people achieve power and control over their lives. [...] A basic knowledge of the battles fought by the ancestors of today’s immigrants—whether they hail from Latin America or elsewhere—is important if we are to understand contemporary US politics. For example, ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the second book I've read from Beacon Press's "ReVisioning American History" series, and this one, like the first (Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's "An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States"), is poignant and contemporary. In our current environment of anti-anything-that's-not-white-America, the books in this series reveal stories and viewpoints that have been ignored, hidden, or diminished. This book in particular exposes America's foundation in racial capitalism and imperialism, a har ...more
Dane West
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easily one of the best books on United States history I’ve ever read. Highly recommend all involved in education but especially History teachers read this.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Less a comprehensive history of two ethnic groups in America than an elongated essay about cooperating for justice, this book shares selected stories of intersectionality, particularly times when Afro-Hispanic coalitions fought for freedom and justice against systems of oppression. Ortiz focuses particularly on the “Emancipatory internationalism [that] had been born in the first stormy years of the republic when African Americans and their allies [including and especially Hispanics] recognized t ...more
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I recommend the book, which does an excellent job of presenting US history - things that didn't make it into the "official record" - missed opportunities. When Dr Ortiz was in my home town, I met him and heard him speak several times, as both a historian and an activist. His ongoing work is an inspiration. His book talks about this one are on YouTube and provide a good overview of the material, also noting that it's an audio-book, which is on my list if I ever need an audiobook
The book gives a
Diego Campos
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is written by an academic, but is easily accessible to anyone who wants to pick up and read it. The actual subject matter covers 200 pages, but this is a book I'll easily have to read more than once to solidify the wealth of information that's here.

My motivation for reading this book was something of a paradigm shift. The trope is that history is written by the victors, but that does not necessarily mean that the "losers" have nothing important to say. Lately, I've been actively searc
Nica Borders
Planning, then doing, a wedding spread out my reading on this for longer than I'd like.

This is a quick read non-fiction book that fills in a lot of the blank spaces in American history, but it goes so fast and paints with such a wide brush, I feel lost.

My biggest complaint is that I know Latinx people have been in America since before America, but this book leans into the "America is slaves and white people" narrative more than I believe the author intended. The book discusses Latinx history but
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an eye-opening read... less because the I was actually surprised by the discrimination and hatred on display here, much of which I have heard about, but more because I didn't realize how much African American history parallels and interacts with Latin American history. It's tragic to see how people have been kept from a fair shake in life because of the color of their skin from the very beginning of this country. It was revealing how this trend just continued the whole time, with only s ...more
Brad Krautwurst
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2018
My only real criticisms of this book lie in its pacing (it feels like they skipped the entirety of the 1970s and barely mentioned in passing the 1980s in order to get to the 1990s and 2000s). I would have preferred the book simply be longer, but I suspect, inferring from foreword from the previous book in this series I've read (An Indigenous People's History of the United States), this length may have been a limitation put on the author by the publisher. Additionally, as usual with books of this ...more
Dan Downing
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cowards, bigots, Trump lovers, haters and general dip shits: don't bother. You won't read this: you can't read this---you'd choke on your own bile.

One deeply moving project I had read/listened too which Paul Ortiz worked on before the present volume was "Remembering Jim Crow," an oral history gleaned from Southern residents.

The present volume is just as heart-wrenching and in the back of one's mind is a constantly running picture of either forgiving grace falling from the hand of a too-good God
Jordan Weiler
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Inequality in American life today is not the result of abstract market forces, nor is it the consequence of the now-discredited "culture of poverty" thesis. From the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution. Jim Crow and Juan Crow laws, backed by law enforcement and paramilitary organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, stood like flaming sentinels against Black and Brown progress. African Americans and Latinx people were forcibly brought or recrui
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Dr. Paul Ortiz is Director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.

Before becoming a historian, attending Duke University for graduate school, Ortiz was first a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne, and then an organizer for the United Farm Workers.

Other books in the series

ReVisioning American History (5 books)
  • A Queer History of the United States
  • A Disability History of the United States
  • An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (ReVisioning American History, #3)
  • A Black Women's History of the United States

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“that the ability of oppressed people throughout the world to exercise genuine self-determination would strengthen liberty in the United States. This idea of emancipatory internationalism was born of centuries of struggle against slavery, colonialism, and oppression in the Americas. When Martin Luther King connected the lives of Vietnamese villagers with the prospects of Black youths in South Central Los Angeles he was drawing on an extraordinary fountain of experiential wisdom.” 1 likes
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