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Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  66 ratings  ·  12 reviews
In 1932, Mittie Maude Lena Gordon spoke to a crowd of black Chicagoans at the old Jack Johnson boxing ring, rallying their support for emigration to West Africa. In 1937, Celia Jane Allen traveled to Jim Crow Mississippi to organize rural black workers around black nationalist causes. In the late 1940s, from her home in Kingston, Jamaica, Amy Jacques Garvey launched an ext ...more
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published February 1st 2018 by University of Pennsylvania Press (first published January 18th 2018)
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Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Marvelous! The best kind of history in that it takes a period that past histories have confronted in a vastly different way and fundamentally reshapes how one views the period. Restores the legacy of important women in the nationalism struggle most frequently associated with Garvey, Du Bois and Robeson. Highly recommended.
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic-history
Super inspiring stories of the working class women who advocated for nationalism for African-Americans. They were complex people with sometimes contradictory ideologies. But their organization skills were amazing. We don’t often hear about racial justice work of the nationalist variety. This is clearly a tight monograph of the kind that usually start as dissertations and as such there is a lot of repetition of ideas, but it was worth it to get this information.
Sikivu Hutchinson
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A trenchant analysis of the Black women activists who shaped twentieth century Black nationalist organizing, mobilization and politics while infusing Black feminist principles and practice in male-dominated contexts. One of the most intriguing examples of this dynamic was activist Laura Adorker Kofey, who was murdered in 1928 after challenging male leadership, yet inspired legions of followers to continue her religious and political work decades later in West Africa and the American South. Throu ...more
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Traditional narrative holds that the golden age of black nationalism ended in the 1920s after the arrest and deportation of Marcus Garvey and that the movement remained dormant until the 1960s. Blaine clearly proves that black nationalism was a vibrant movement in the period between 1925 and 1965. Moreover, she demonstrates conclusively that women were leaders in this black nationalist movement. There is much in this book. I am sure that I am not alone in being surprised that the black nationali ...more
Donna Bijas
During the Great Depression, female activists worked for years United in their political views that people of African descent constituted a separate group and they worked diligently and politically to have 3 million Black people move to Liberia and neighboring nations to remove themselves from the stigma of slavery and poverty. Mittie Maud, Lena Gordon, Amy Garvey, Ethel Waddell and other Black women leaders dominated the political Black culture. While amazing what they tried to do and the hoops ...more
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was really refreshing to analyze such a conflicted and contradictory movement from the lens of the work that women put into it. It gives a more well-rounded perspective to that time period. My only critique of the book is that at times it did feel a bit repetitive, but it was clearly written.
Jan 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Really hard to read. Don’t really recommend it. I learned some things I didn’t know but the context was so skimpy it’s hard to integrate with what I do know. I can see why this strand of black resistance is so little known. Seems like a dead end.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
So many women mentioned of too little is known, if only it could be rectified.
Debra Foster Greene
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a native Mississippian, I highly recommend chapters 3 and 4.
A'Llyn Ettien
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Very interesting exploration of some fascinating women and their role in an important part of history.
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great addition to the historical context of Black Nationalism. I learned so much about the women who organized and mobilized internationally for their causes.
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Mills College Library
320.54609 B634 2018
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Keisha N. Blain is a historian of the 20th century United States specializing in African American History, the modern African Diaspora, and Women’s and Gender Studies. She is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh, president of the African American Intellectual History Society, and an editor for the Washington Post’s ‘Made by History’ section. Blain is the author of the ...more

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