Who are the Pan-Africanists?
No one can say with authority who was the first person to express ideas synonymous with pan-Africanism, but resistance to foreign domination has been a constant element of African history on and off the continent. It is generally accepted, however, that true pan-African thinking first appeared among Black people in the Diaspora. Africans who were outside of Africa and stripped of their tribal affiliation were quick to recognize that their subjugation was based on their race; hence the call for racial unity in the face of a shared oppressive experience was originally given voice among them. Early pan-African sentiments were clearly expressed by the 1700s. In America in 1787, for example, the famed Freemason Prince Hall sent a formal request to the Massachusetts Legislative Assembly for help with immigrating back to Africa. Likewise in the first two decades of the 1800s, the successful Boston merchant Paul Cuffee supported the repatriation of a least two groups of emigrants at his own expense. Prominent African Nationalists of that time include Henry Sylvester Williams, Edward W. Bylden, Benito Sylvain, Orishatukeh Faduma, and Mojola Agbebi. A good article to read about this subject is “Pan-Negro Nationalism in the New World Before 1862” by Hollis R. Lynch. But aside from those luminaries, many scholars point to two particular meetings in order to date the beginning of the pan-African movement. The Chicago Congress on Africa in 1893 and the London meeting of the African Association in 1900 which introduced the use of the term “pan-African”. Nevertheless, while both of those meetings were historic in their originality, participation and outlook, it was the later Pan-African Congresses sponsored by W.E.B. Dubois and the U.N.I.A. conventions of Marcus Garvey that traditionally have been credited with having the most influence on pan-African thinking. Over a 45 year period, DuBois would champion or be involved with six Congresses which...
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