The Freedom Movement's Lost Legacy
Black Abolitionism since Emancipation
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
Sales Date: 06/06/2023
In the century after emancipation, the long shadow of slavery left African Americans well short of the freedom promised to them. Sharecropping and debt peonage entrapped Black people in the South and, across the world, European colonialism had bred a new slavery that menaced the liberty of even more Africans. A core group of Black freedom movement leaders, including Ida B. Wells and W. E. B. Du Bois, followed their nineteenth-century predecessors in insisting that the continuation of racial slavery anywhere put Black freedom on the line everywhere. They even predicted the consequences that ignited the recent nationwide Black Lives Matter movement—the rise of a prison industrial complex and the consequent erosion of African Americans' faith in the criminal justice system.
The Freedom Movement's Lost Legacy: Black Abolitionism since Emancipation is the first historical account of the Black freedom movement's response to modern slavery in the twentieth century. Keith P. Griffler details how the mainstream international antislavery movement became complicit in the enslavement of Black and brown people across the world through its sponsorship of racist international antislavery law that gave the "new slavery" explicit legal sanction. Black freedom movement activists, thinkers, and organizers did more than call out this breathtaking betrayal of abolitionist principles: they dedicated themselves to the eradication of slavery in whatever forms it assumed on the global stage and developed an expansive vision of human freedom. This timely and important work reminds us that the resurgence of today's Black freedom movements is a manifestation and continuation of the traditions and efforts of these early Black leaders and abolitionists—an important chapter in the history of antislavery and the ongoing Black freedom struggle.
1. The Origins and Launch of Twentieth Century Black Abolitionism
2. Reactivating the Antislavery-Antiracism Alliance for a New Century
3. The Rise of a New Antislavery
4. "The Emancipation of Man"
5. The Emancipation of Women
6. Black Abolitionism and the New Slavery in the Twenty-First Century
This work by Keith Griffler is an important rejoinder to the history of abolotion as a white gift to Black people. The role of Black thinkers within abolition movements and the development of its ideas cannot be divorced from the force of the abolition demand. Emancipation, abolition and unfreedom animate the detailed account of the stakes of Black abolitionists ideas as those ideas push towards freedom. Spanning the mid-1800s to our present time Griffler makes clear that racial slavery holds a unique relation to abolition as a politics that demands the specifics of Black intellectual interventions for it to make any kind of sense. Abolition as the central demand of Black freedom struggles during slavery and post-slavery cannot be adequately thought without the specific turns that Black intellectuals have made of it globally. After reading this work we more firmly understand why the term abolition continues to animate Black freedom struggles in the present.~Rinaldo Walcott, Director of Women and Gender Studies Institute, Associate Professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto