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date: 09 March 2021

Black Women’s Internationalism from the Age of Revolutions to World War Ifree

  • Brandon R. ByrdBrandon R. ByrdDepartment of History, Vanderbilt University


Black internationalism describes the political culture and intellectual practice forged in response to slavery, colonialism, and white imperialism. It is a historical and ongoing collective struggle against racial oppression rooted in global consciousness. While the expression of black internationalism has certainly changed across time and place, black liberation through collaboration has been and remains its ultimate goal.

Since the emergence of black internationalism as a result of the transatlantic slave trade and during the Age of Revolutions, black women such as the poet Phyllis Wheatley and evangelist Rebecca Protten have been at its forefront. Their writings and activism espoused an Afro-diasporic, global consciousness and promoted the cause of universal emancipation. During the 19th century, black women internationalists included abolitionists, missionaries, and clubwomen. They built on the work of their predecessors while laying the foundations for succeeding black women internationalists in the early 20th century. By World War I, a new generation of black women activists and intellectuals remained crucial parts of the International Council of Women, an organization founded by white suffragists from the United States, and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, a global organization formally led by Jamaican pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey. But they also formed an independent organization, the International Council of Women of the Darker Races (ICWDR).

Within and outside of the ICWDR, black women from Africa and the African Diaspora faced and challenged discrimination on the basis of their sex and race. Their activism and intellectual work set a powerful precedent for a subsequent wave of black internationalism shaped by self-avowed black feminists.

The enslaved Wolof girl arrived in Boston on July 11, 1761. She was of “a slender frame . . . poor, naked” and weakened after traveling from her native Senegal aboard the slave ship Phillis. She was about eight years old, missing her front teeth and naked save for “a quantity of dirty carpet about her like a filibeg.”1

Soon she was called Phillis Wheatley. The last name belonged to a white family who believed that enslavement could bring the African heathen into Christian freedom. The first name was that family’s first “gift” to her, an enduring reminder of the slave ship that stole her from Africa and transported her to America.

Within a few years, Wheatley had mastered English, Greek, and Latin. She was well-versed in the Bible. She was, in fact, a poet. In one of her earliest poems, Wheatley recalled that:

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,Taught my benighted soul to understandThat there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.Some view our sable race with scornful eye,“Their colour is a diabolic die.”Remember, Christians, Negros, Black as Cain,May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.2

More than two centuries later, “On Being Brought from Africa to America” remains Wheatley’s most anthologized, controversial, and, perhaps, important work. The poem, as black male critics ranging from Edward Wilmot Blyden to James Weldon Johnson to Amiri Baraka spared no insult in noting, elevates Protestant America at the expense of heathen Africa while failing to condemn slavery explicitly.3 Still, as historian Sylvia Frey argues, it “affirm[s] Black affinity.”4 Despite the horrors of the Middle Passage, Wheatley remained conscious of her homeland and its meaning for her now dispersed “sable race.” For her, the slave trade was destructive and generative. Out of its horrors came the foundations of black internationalism with black women at its vanguard.

The Making of Black Women’s Internationalism in the Age of Revolutions

As historians Michael O. West and William G. Martin argue, black internationalism describes a response to slavery, colonialism, and white imperialism crafted by people of African descent in Africa and the African Diaspora. It is an enduring political and intellectual culture that, in different historical moments, has prioritized collective struggle against racial oppression. Despite changes in the expression of black internationalism in different times and places, global consciousness has been and remains foundational to its practice and theorization.5

First emerging out of the transatlantic slave trade, black internationalism coalesced with an evangelical emphasis during Wheatley’s era, the Age of Revolutions. In the second half of the 18th century, slaveholding Christians and a series of transatlantic evangelical revivals that became known as the Great Awakening brought Protestantism to a sizable number of enslaved Africans and African Americans including Wheatley.6 Converts identified themselves as part of a global Christian community and also created independent churches. In them, black leaders and their congregations used the Bible to denounce American slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. They laid the foundations for an Afro-Christianity that advanced a message of universal emancipation and stressed the radical biblical notion that God “made of one blood all nations of men.”7

The bearers of that message were often women like Rebecca Protten. Born in Antigua in 1718, Protten was a woman of European and African ancestry who converted to Christianity during her childhood, obtained her freedom from slavery, and then joined a group of German missionaries from the Moravian Church. As a Moravian, Protten began her own itinerant mission in which she preached to hundreds of black men, women, and children enslaved on the sugar plantations of St. Thomas, a Danish colony in the West Indies. She then embarked on a remarkable transatlantic journey. In 1742, Protten moved to Hernnhut, Germany, where she became a Moravian deaconess. Fourteen years later, she opened a school at Fort Christiansborg, a slave fortress on Africa’s Gold Coast. She died there in 1780, having refused passage back to the West Indies in order to continue missionary work that presaged a “Black international evangelical movement.”8

While Protten spent her final years teaching in West Africa, a counterrevolution emerged that reinforced a nascent global black consciousness and commitment to the fight against racial oppression. The British North Americans who waged war against the metropole articulated the Enlightenment’s lofty ideas of representative government and human equality, but the announcement of their independence in 1776 was more reactionary than revolutionary. Their actions were meant to protect slavery from British abolitionism and continue the displacement of American Indians. Black people recognized the shortcomings of what historian Gerald Horne has called the Counterrevolution of 1776.9 Numerous enslaved black Northerners drew upon evangelical, Enlightenment, and republican ideology to petition for manumission. Even more enslaved black Southerners either fled their plantations or enlisted in the British Army in exchange for freedom. When the British surrendered to the United States, many black loyalists migrated, both voluntarily and forcibly, to Nova Scotia, England, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, and Australia.10 They (re)emerged as self-conscious diasporic subjects, as black people who saw themselves as part of a dispersed community that advanced the most revolutionary ideas of universal human rights.

Black migrants also laid the foundations of a guiding principle of black internationalism: pan-Africanism, the belief that people of African descent possess a shared origin and destiny.11 Haitians helped strengthen them. Beginning in 1791, enslaved people in Saint-Domingue, a French colony that produced half of Europe’s sugar and 60 percent of its coffee, took up arms against white planters. They expelled the French twelve years later. The final act of the Haitian Revolution dismantled racial slavery, colonialism, and white supremacy in Saint-Domingue and gave birth to Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s first black nation-state and its second independent republic. It not only realized the true potential of Enlightenment-era principles of universalism but also solidified a transnational commitment to revolutionary pan-Africanism, a tradition predicated upon global black consciousness and armed resistance to racial oppression.12

Figure 1. Toussaint Louverture holding a copy of his Constitution of 1801. Although the image seeks to legitimize Louverture’s political leadership by associating it with Christianity and presenting a lone, supplicating female figure in the traditional, respectable role of mother, black women played an active part in the Haitian Revolution. That event, the lone successful slave insurrection in modern world history, then became a cornerstone of black women’s internationalist thought and practice.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

While Toussaint Louverture and Jean Jacques-Dessalines became the masculine embodiments of the Haitian Revolution, women played key roles in it. According to oral tradition, Cécile Fatiman, a mambo or Vodou priestess, slit the throat of the pig sacrificed during the Vodou ceremony that began the Haitian Revolution. Women of African descent also participated in the battles that followed. While most of the women who spied on French soldiers, provisioned Haitian troops, and took up arms against white slaveholders remained anonymous due to the gender and racial biases of French-authored sources, a few of these revolutionaries were named. Sanité Belair, for instance, was not just the wife of a prominent general in Louverture’s army. Instead, she was a lieutenant, militant, and martyr who, having refused the blindfold offered by her French executioners, cried out “Liberty, no to slavery!” before a firing squad took her life.13

Such defiance inspired countless free and enslaved black people across the Americas. While white planters and politicians condemned the so-called Horrors of St. Domingue, black people from Colombia to Charleston, South Carolina learned of the Haitian Revolution and interpreted it as a righteous portent of emancipation and black self-determination across the African Diaspora.14 Insurrectionists drew inspiration from Toussaint Louverture. Abolitionists invoked the Haitian Revolution.15 Thousands of black people from the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean responded to the pan-Africanist overtures of Jean Pierre-Boyer, the Haitian president who proclaimed that “Providence has destined Hayti for a land of promise, a sacred asylum, where our unfortunate brethren will, in the end, see their wounds healed by the balm of equality, and their tears wiped away by the protecting hand of liberty.”16 They fled to Haiti, in the process confirming its centrality to the thinking and doing of black internationalism.

Of course, it was not just Boyer’s “brethren” who were conscious of Haiti and the Haitian Revolution or struck by their importance to individual and collective black struggles for freedom. In July 1830, the Genius of Universal Emancipation, an abolitionist newspaper published by white Quaker Benjamin Lundy, printed a letter from Arcahaie, Haiti. It carried news of a female refugee who frequently bought goods from the local marketplace before traveling to Port-au-Prince to exchange them for money and “other necessaries of life.” According to the account, surely meant to encourage further emigration from the United States to Haiti, the budding businesswoman was “extremely well contented . . . and now enjoying a comparative degree of happiness.” Having established with her husband a new home on several acres of land and a garden filled with plantain trees, she was “perfectly satisfied and thankful for the blessings they enjoy.”17

Those small acts of buying and selling, planting and reaping carried larger implications. Many of the black female refugees in Haiti came from the blighted neighborhoods of northern cities where racial inequality persisted long after the initiation of abolitionist legislation. In New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and New Haven they had labored as washerwomen and domestic servants, groaning under the weight of heavy washtubs, crying out from the burns inflicted by boiling water, and recoiling from the unwanted touches of abusive white employers. They had felt the gendered consequences of systemic racism.18 Accordingly, Haiti was desired as a place to build financial independence, achieve landownership, and secure black families. It was a refuge won in anti-slavery and anti-colonial struggle, a haven for black women who knew that their “happiness” was a radical act inseparable from the international struggle for black freedom.

By the time the Genius of Universal Emancipation carried its news from Arcahaie, Haiti, black women had built the earliest foundations of black internationalism. Beginning in the 18th century, free and enslaved black women had become proponents of Christianity. They used their faith to insist on universal emancipation and stress human equality. While some black female missionaries and writers spread that message of spiritual freedom across the world, Haitian women helped dismantle slavery and reshape the Enlightenment through violent revolution. Their actions inspired free and enslaved black people all over the Americas and made Haiti a place of singular importance to black internationalists. From the perspective of black people throughout the African Diaspora, Haiti proved that the fight against racial oppression could be won. It showed that there was a collective alternative—a progressive, pan-African future—to the world that the transatlantic slave trade had made.

Black Women, Black Nationalism, and Transnational Abolitionism

Bowing to pressure from the early, international anti-slavery movement, the United States and Great Britain abolished the transatlantic slave trade in 1807. Slavery expanded, however. In the three decades after the United States purchased the Louisiana territory from France, its enslaved population rose from approximately nine hundred thousand to more than two million. Although most of those enslaved people were now born in the United States rather than Africa, they maintained visions of freedom that transcended national boundaries. In fact, even African Americans born in northern states that had passed emancipation laws remained invested in the emancipatory vision of black internationalism.

In January 1828, the New York–based Freedom’s Journal, the first black newspaper in the United States, published the first of four installments of “Theresa, a Haytien Tale.”19 The highly anticipated short story, advertised well in advance of its publication, presents a black woman named Theresa as the main protagonist of the Haitian Revolution. As French troops approach the village where she and her sister live with their protective mother, Theresa prays not for herself but for her country. “O, my God!,” she calls out one sleepless night, “be propitious to the cause of justice—Be near to the Haytiens in their righteous struggle, to obtain those rights which thou hast graciously bestowed on all thy children.” God seems to answer when, having overheard a French plot that would lead to the “destruction of the revolutionists,” Theresa survives a harrowing journey through the war-torn countryside and delivers her intelligence to Toussaint Louverture. Ultimately, her “laudable efforts” save her “too long oppressed countrymen.” It is “her agency” that dictates the course of the Haitian Revolution.20

Did a black woman write “Theresa,” a story signed only with the letter “S”?21 Maria W. Stewart, one of the earliest female public speakers in the United States, later gave a public address in which she praised Haitians whose “firmness of character, and independence of spirit have been greatly admired, and highly applauded.”22 She might have written the heroic and female-centered account of the Haitian Revolution. Likewise, it might have come from Sarah Louise Forten, a prolific writer and the daughter of a prominent black abolitionist who believed that Haiti proved “that his people would become a great nation.”23 In a widely circulated essay, Forten predicted that “He, the great spirit who created all men free and equal . . . will wipe the tear from Ethiopia’s eye; He will shake the tree of liberty, and its blossoms shall spread over the earth.”24 She almost certainly drew inspiration from Toussaint Louverture’s famous prediction that the French military officers who tricked him into surrendering had “cut only the trunk of the tree of liberty. It will spring again from the roots for they are numerous and deep.”25

That Stewart or Forten wrote “Theresa” is imaginable for another reason: black women remained at the forefront of black internationalism. Just as Theresa was at the vanguard of the Haitian Revolution, black female writers, speakers, and activists in Great Britain, Canada, and the early United States played a leading role in the global struggle for black freedom. In and outside of the earliest US black public institutions, through narratives condemning slavery in the Caribbean and anti-slavery petitions submitted to Parliament, they articulated expansive visions of black freedom that stemmed from the Age of Revolution but also responded to popular ideas about race and nation taking shape during the 19th century.26

In the decades before the US Civil War, Euro-Americans staked a claim to racial supremacy through their intertwined discourses on gender, nation, and civilization. Anglo-Saxons, Protestants of German or English “stock,” were the most masculine race, they argued. Unlike Negroes, they were courageous, intelligent, and industrious. They were uniquely capable of self-government. They alone were free. According to southern slaveholders, northern social scientists, and western expansionists alike, the proof of Anglo-Saxons’ singular fitness for self-governance and thus civilization was the nation-state, a sovereign political body binding together people of (ostensibly) similar cultural and racial heritage. The evidence of their greatness was not only the “natural” state of enslavement in which black people lived but also the supposed absence of a “civilized” black nation-state that practiced Christianity and engaged in commerce.27

As white nationalists looked beyond the borders of the United States so, too, did black nationalists.28 Nineteenth-century black nationalism, a flexible ideology related to pan-Africanism, centered on the belief that black people across the world needed to take pride in their African heritage and unite on the principle of economic and political self-determination. It stressed Psalm 68:31, the biblical prophecy that “Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands onto God.”29 While Ethiopianism often focused on the redemption of Africa through free (non-slave) trade and the spread of Protestantism, its proponents also assigned great importance to Haiti. In particular, black nationalists called for the United States to grant diplomatic recognition to the country it had ostracized due to its blackness and its birth in slave insurrection. They characterized Haiti as a unique yet imitable model of black self-government, one that through its own civilized progress could disprove the claims of white nationalists, inspire the regeneration of Africa, and support the urgent cause of universal emancipation.30

Black women like Mary Bibb often put into practice the principles of black nationalism and internationalism.31 Born in Rhode Island in 1820, Bibb was the child of free black Quakers who, after graduating from the Massachusetts State Normal School, went on to an international career of teaching and activism. In 1850, the year that the United States passed its repressive Fugitive Slave Act, she moved to Canada West with her husband, the abolitionist, writer, and fugitive slave Henry Bibb.

While her husband became the face of black separatism in Canada, it was Mary Bibb who put that idea into action. African Americans who made it to freedom across the border often stopped at the Bibb house where Mary provided care and assistance finding jobs and housing. Some of those refugees attended the Methodist Church that Bibb helped found or sent their children to the school that she operated. When not teaching, Bibb was the main writer and editor of the Voice of the Fugitive, the pioneering black Canadian newspaper that advanced abolitionism and encouraged emigrationism. She, along with her husband, also established the Refugee Home Society, an organization that supported black self-determination by acquiring land before reselling it to black refugees fleeing to Canada West to escape racial oppression in the United States.32

While Bibb promoted black separatism, other black women including Mary Ann Shadd Cary used internationalism in support of racial integration. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1823, Cary’s childhood home also served as a station on the Underground Railroad. In addition, her father sold subscriptions for The Liberator, the leading abolitionist newspaper in the United States. Cary was born into activism. After gaining an education from white abolitionists at a Quaker school in Pennsylvania, Cary returned to Wilmington and opened a school for black children. She then secured teaching appointments in New York and Pennsylvania, taking leadership of black institutions that embodied the idea of self-reliance but also sought to break down the racial barriers that stifled black progress.

Figure 2. Mary Ann Shadd Cary, date unknown. In 1853, Cary cofounded and began coediting The Provincial Freeman, a pioneering black Canadian, abolitionist, and emigrationist paper. Under the leadership of Cary, the first female black newspaper editor in North America, The Provincial Freeman became known for its uncompromising opposition to slavery and its promotion of black emigration from the United States to Canada.

Library and Archives Canada.

After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and at the behest of Henry and Mary Bibb, Cary took herself and her activism across the United States’ northern border. In Canada West, Cary joined tens of thousands of other refugees from the United States, promoted further black emigration, and edited The Provincial Freeman, a newspaper that publicized the successes of black Canadians and adopted the motto “Self-Reliance is the True Road to Independence.” She also continued to teach while becoming a vocal critic of the Bibbs. Opposing their emphasis on black separatism, Cary believed that neither her schools nor any other should restrict access based on race. She advocated for black self-reliance but also advanced equality of opportunity, racial integration, and inclusion as freedom’s ultimate ends.33

Although this heated dispute between Cary and the Bibbs highlights the divergent methods of black women activists, it also clarifies their shared goals. Despite their ideological differences, Mary Bibb and Mary Ann Shadd Cary both believed that the struggle for black freedom transcended US borders. In fact, each woman used migration and a base in Canada to evade racial oppression and advance the collective cause of universal emancipation.

To be sure, the work of abolitionism was international and advanced by women like Bibb, Cary, and Sarah Parker Remond. Born in 1824, Remond was part of a prominent black family in Salem, Massachusetts, a bustling coastal town where black women organized the first female anti-slavery society in the United States. Her brother was the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society’s first black lecturer and a delegate to London’s World Anti-Slavery Convention while her parents were successful entrepreneurs who supplied local merchants with imported cigars from Spain, wine from Portugal, and soy from India. All three influenced Remond through the nature and scope of their work. By the 1850s, Remond became an officer of the American Anti-Slavery Society and a skilled lecturer who championed abolitionism at stops in New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Canada. She was, true to her upbringing, also a cosmopolitan woman who had “an intense desire to visit England, that I might for a time enjoy freedom.”34

After Remond acted on that desire and left the United States, she not only became the first woman to promote abolitionism before English audiences but also emerged as a vocal critic of British colonialism in Jamaica. In October 1865, months after the end of the US Civil War and weeks before the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolished US slavery, black peasants and small-scale farmers in Morant Bay, Jamaica, protested colonial land policies and judicial systems that favored white planters.35 The response to what became known as the Morant Bay Rebellion appalled Remond. As the English press praised colonial authorities for executing more than four hundred alleged rebels, flogging an even greater number of Afro-Jamaicans, and destroying thousands of their homes, Remond wrote “a word in defence of the most hated race in the world” to the London Daily News. “Since the civil war in the United States,” she proclaimed,

Southern Confederates and . . . former West Indian planters, have united together to endeavor to neutralize the interest felt for the oppressed negroes, and to hold them up to the scorn and contempt of the civilized world . . . I have read the pro-slavery newspapers in the United States with most careful attention for more than a quarter of a century, but I have never read more insulting attacks upon the negro race than I have read within the last four years in some of the London journals.

Such attacks on “negro character” had to stop, Remond continued. Denied the right to habeas corpus, targeted by vicious slander that would “disgrace any Southern Confederate or negrohating (sic) Northerner,” Afro-Jamaicans and their English allies had too many grievances to either count or countenance. “Our cup of bitterness,” Remond warned, “is more than full.”36

For Remond and like-minded others, anti-racist, anti-colonial critique was a natural outgrowth of abolitionism. It responded to the shifting nature of global racial oppression. Following emancipation in the United States, white southerners forged new repressive tools to replace slavery. Like the British Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, the Black Codes adopted across the US South allowed former slaveowners to indenture black children without parental consent. Such laws rested on an assumption that freed black people still required white control.

That paternalistic ethos became a guiding principle behind the forms of racial oppression that emerged following the demise of slavery in most of the Americas. Just as West Indian planters and their allies in Parliament continued to try to profit from the labor of Afro-Jamaicans, US politicians not only restored former Confederates to power but also looked toward expansion in the Caribbean. In the words of W. E. B. Du Bois, “The slave went free . . . A new slavery arose.”37

Missionaries, Clubwomen, and the International Work of Racial Uplift

In the post-emancipation United States, the black church joined the black school as a principal site of resistance to racial oppression.38 Some black northerners from the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church extended domestic missions to the South.39 Many black southerners once compelled to attend church alongside their enslavers now formed independent black Baptist and Methodist congregations.40 Countless freedpeople embraced the subversive message of Afro-Christianity.41 Across the South, black churches housed meetings of the Union League, a Republican organization that promoted black political and civil rights. Their ministers, a number of them politicians, routinely inspired congregants with the Ethiopian prophesy.

The proliferation of the Ethiopian prophesy in the post-emancipation era suggests a reinforcement of the link between evangelicalism and black women’s internationalism.42 As it had been since its 18th-century beginnings, the black church remained a unique site of leadership for black women. But, strengthened and expanded by the demise of chattel slavery, it now offered greater institutional structure for the international work that its most active members soon carried forth.

In 1874, Benjamin Tucker Tanner, an AME minister and the editor of the AME Church’s Christian Recorder, called for the creation of a “Women’s Missionary Society.” Paternalism motivated his demand. Tanner wanted women to take a prominent role in the extension of AME foreign missions because he believed them to be too idle. Like other male church members, he assumed that the mission field, whether foreign or domestic, was an ideal place for women to become more involved in church affairs due to its association with the stereotypically feminine role of education. He certainly did not view a “Women’s Missionary Society” as a possible site of autonomous female leadership, but as a subordinate auxiliary to a patriarchal church structure.43

Black women had different ideas, however. The wives of AME bishops and clergy demonstrated their religious commitment through their work in the temperance movement and home missions among the freedpeople in the US South. They agreed to organize foreign missions but on their terms rather than Tanner’s. From its founding, the Woman’s Parent Mite Missionary Society (WPMMS), the first national organization in the United States established by black women, moved its members’ concerns to the forefront of racial discourses. It moved black women from the margins to the center of the international struggle for racial uplift.

Their idea of racial uplift was a product of the gendered discourses about black improvement that pervaded the post-emancipation United States. On the one hand, African Americans thought of uplift as collective striving away from slavery toward freedom and full citizenship. In their popular imaginings, education provided the key to mutual social advancement. However, as white supremacists caricatured black people as male brutes or female jezebels wholly unfit for freedom, some black elites assigned racial uplift a less democratic definition. Educated African Americans accepted responsibility for reforming the behavior and improving the conditions of the black masses. They expected to disprove widespread anti-black stereotypes while measuring black progress according to the elitist and patriarchal terms of their day. For black activists, racial uplift thus came to mean economic self-help and Christian piety, racial unity, and Victorian modesty. It equated civilization with the housewife who embraced homemaking and mothering as keys to respectable womanhood and the “uplifting of the race.”44

Foreign missionary work enabled Mary Ella Mossell and other WPMMS members to transcend those narrow roles even as they assigned those roles to Haitian women. In August 1876, Mossell arrived in Port-au-Prince along with her husband, the minister charged with supervising AME missions in Haiti, while she was tasked with overseeing the AME Sabbath School in Port-au-Prince. While Mossell, a graduate of Baltimore’s well-regarded Colored Normal School, assumed responsibilities far beyond the walls of her own home, she lamented that “Haytien women as a rule are not model housekeepers.” During her eight years in Haiti, Mossell gave those women lessons in “sewing, embroidering, music, and some other branches of the useful arts” and inspected Haitian homes to ensure that “instruction” in the art of homemaking “had been well-taken.” She tried to bring about “some change in the social order, such as would enable the women to devote more time to their domestic affairs.”45

As Mossell revealed, racial uplift sometimes functioned as a civilizing mission.46 WPMMS leaders wrote about their bonds with their “Haytian sisters” in blackness and Christ. They voiced their appreciation for Haiti—the “historic island . . . whose blood flowed so freely for the emancipation of our race”—but felt an urgent need to “civilize” both. Even as white reactionaries alleged that “self-government, as practiced by the negroes of Hayti, is certainly the most tragical [sic] farce ever known in the history of the world,” WPMMS missionaries saw Haiti as a critical litmus test for black self-determination in a post-emancipation society.47 By reforming Haitian womanhood, they hoped to secure the political and civil rights now promised in the US Constitution. By uplifting Haiti, they expected to rehabilitate the image of their entire emancipated race.

From the outset of their activism, black women organized internationally. Black female missionaries left the United States for the Caribbean and Africa, convinced of their service to a collective struggle for racial uplift that bound them to the inhabitants of both regions. They accepted nationalistic understandings of civilized progress. But they possessed a global consciousness, too.

By the 1890s, black women’s internationalism retained its biblical accent even as it addressed the global structures of racial domination that replaced those known to Phillis Wheatley. Following the Berlin West Africa Conference of 1884–1885, European powers swept across Africa, extracting mineral resources and manual labor in the name of commerce, Christianity, and civilization. They proclaimed their right to dominate Africa’s “native tribes and . . . the conditions of their moral and material well-being;” at the same time, the United States charted its own course of territorial expansion.48 While white mobs lynched black people at unprecedented rates, US politicians expanded the boundaries of the racial caste system condoned by the US Supreme Court. Soon segregationists and soldiers appointed themselves guardians of Cubans and Filipinos, the paternalistic caretakers of “little brown brothers.”49

Ida B. Wells traversed the same transatlantic path as Sarah Parker Remond in order to draw attention to attacks on black freedom. In 1893 and 1894, Wells, an investigative journalist born enslaved in Olive Springs, Mississippi, made two trips to Great Britain at the urging of Catherine Impey, a Quaker who established the first British anti-racist periodical. There she rallied British reformers to her anti-lynching crusade.50 Wells, attacked by white southerners who feared her defiance of Jim Crow and criticized by black men who resented her challenges to gender norms, lamented that she received similar treatment from some English papers bent on “attacking and discrediting my assertions.”51 She, as always, disregarded her critics. In Great Britain, Wells caused a sensation unseen since the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s bestselling abolitionist novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. “Lynching,” one journalist marveled, “has never been so strongly condemned by the Press in England as during her visit.”52

The success of Wells’s transatlantic anti-lynching campaign came during a watershed moment for black women’s organizing. Two years after Wells’s second European trip, members of the National Federation of Afro-American Women and the National League of Colored Women met in Washington, DC. Together, the two organizations of black clubwomen formed the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). Adopting the motto “Lifting as we climb,” Wells and other founders of the NACW emphasized the value of self-help and asserted their own self-worth. They reiterated the importance of racial uplift while fighting for anti-lynching legislation and advocating for black political and civil rights. Accordingly, black clubwomen’s declarations of respectability preceded their claims to citizenship and provided a means by which black women defined themselves as women and first-class citizens in a sexist and racist society that too often denied both.53

From their outset, black women’s organizations stressed the global dimensions of Afro-Christianity. In 1900, Nannie Helen Burroughs, a graduate of the well-regarded M Street High School, founding member of the NACW, and secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention (NBC), gave a fiery speech at the annual meeting of the NBC, the independent black organization that had become the largest one in the United States since its founding in 1895. Her subject was black women and foreign missions. “For a number of years there has been a righteous discontent, a burning zeal to go forward in [Christ’s] name among the Baptist women of our churches,” Burroughs began.

It will be the spark that shall light the altar fire in the heathen lands . . . We come now to the rescue. We unfurl our banner upon which is inscribed this motto, “The World for Christ. Woman, Arise, He calleth for Thee.” Will you as a pastor and friend of missions help by not hindering these women when they come among you to speak and to enlist the women of your church? It has ever been from the time of Miriam . . . down to the courageous women that in very recent years have carried the Gospel into Thibet and Africa and proclaimed and taught the truth where no man has been allowed to enter.

Clearly, Burroughs concluded, black women were not just meant to assume submissive roles at home. Instead, they must play “a very important part in the work of saving this redeemed earth.”54

Figure 3. Nannie Helen Burroughs, c. 1900–1920.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Contemporaries agreed that Burroughs’s speech “captivated the Convention.”55 The NBC approved the formation of the Women’s Convention (WC), an auxiliary body that soon developed into the largest organization of black women in the United States. Burroughs served as its first corresponding secretary. Under her leadership, the WC became a crucial arena for black women, otherwise excluded from the political arena due to their race and sex, to practice self-governance as the national representatives of local churches, district associations, and state conventions. It also provided a foundation for further work on behalf of what Burroughs called “the highest development of Christian womanhood” at home and abroad.56

In 1909, Burroughs founded the National Training School for Women and Girls (NTS) with financial support from the WC. Crafted to achieve racial uplift, it pursued a transnational civilizing mission, too. From its beginning, the school that trained black women and girls in the values of the “Bible, bath, and broom” included international students from Africa and Latin America. Those students, often benefiting from scholarships provided by the WC, studied everything from millinery to music to missions. Some of them, Burroughs boasted, absorbed “the American spirit of energy and aggressiveness” that would make them “a power on the Haytian mission field.”57

The uncritical reference to “the American spirit of energy and aggressiveness” reveals much about the assumptions of US exceptionalism that motivated black women’s internationalism of the era. Crafted during the Age of Imperialism and Jim Crow, black women’s international work of racial uplift attempted to challenge the latter while imbibing some of the rhetoric and structures of the former. It often elevated Christian America over heathen Africa. Burroughs and her fellow clubwomen saw foreign missions as the principal means of educating African and Afro-Caribbean women in good homemaking and effective mothering. They viewed evangelism as the best way to ensure the material and moral elevation of all black people, to elevate the race from its poor habits and subordinate status.

The Global Color Line and the Great War

In 1900, the same year that Burroughs solidified support for the WC, Trinidadian barrister Henry Sylvester Williams organized the Pan-African Conference in London. The event brought together black intellectuals and activists from Africa, the United States, and the Caribbean. On the final day of the conference, after participants including Anna Julia Cooper resolved to fight for the political and civil rights of black people across the world, improve the educational and economic opportunities available to their communities, and form a political organization of independent African countries, W. E. B. Du Bois delivered a resounding closing address. “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,” he predicted. It was the question of “how far differences of race . . . will hereafter be made the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing . . . the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization.”58

As black women emphasized, that color line was global. Four years after the first Pan-African Conference and the establishment of the WC, Mary Church Terrell, a cofounder of the NACW and a graduate of Oberlin College, delivered a speech on the accomplishments and struggles of black women at the quinquennial meeting of the International Council of Women (ICW) held in Berlin. Speaking in fluent German and highlighting the history of black women such as Phillis Wheatley, Terrell aimed to do much more than “place the colored women of the United States in the most favorable light.” She later recalled that she “represented, not only the colored women of my own country but, since I was the only woman taking part in the International Congress who had a drop of African blood in her veins, I represented the whole continent of Africa as well.” Hers was a “tremendous responsibility” but an inescapable one for a woman possessed of race consciousness and international sensibilities.59

Terrell’s speech highlights how the work of black women’s internationalism unfolded within mainstream women’s organizing at the outset of the 20th century. Formed in 1888, the ICW grew out of an annual meeting of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), a group founded by white suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The ICW, “the first lasting multipurpose transnational women’s organization,” agreed to meet every five years and established National Councils of Women (NCW) in all of its member countries. It was shaped by black women from the very start. In 1896, the ICW invited the NACW to join the US NCW. The preeminent association of black clubwomen, then led by President Mary Church Terrell, eagerly applied and was promptly accepted. At that point, NACW members believed that “In no way can we better get the claims for our work for the elevation of the race before the people of the country, and indeed the world.”60

The world in which black women lived was being reshaped by US imperialism. In the first decade of the 20th century, the United States staged military interventions in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Cuba. In 1915, it began an occupation of Haiti, the western hemisphere’s first black republic, that lasted until 1934.61

Woodrow Wilson soon expressed lofty ideas about democracy that belied the actual practice of US imperialism and racial segregation. In April 1917, the US president who ordered the devastating occupation of Haiti and also enforced racial segregation in the US government asked Congress to declare war on Germany in order to “make the world safe for democracy.” He then issued his Fourteen Points, a list of war aims that included the establishment of a League of Nations to guarantee the political independence and territorial integrity of small nation-states, and the assurance of self-determination to minorities in central, southern, and eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire.62

Before these principles became the focus of peace negotiations, the war resulted in tens of millions of casualties and unleashed global migrations. In the United States, almost half a million African Americans moved from the South to the urban North and Midwest. They fled the racial terror of Jim Crow, hoping to be fully included in northern public life and the booming wartime economy. In Detroit and Chicago, Philadelphia, and especially Harlem, New York, black southerners joined immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, native black northerners, and thousands of people from Africa and the British West Indies. The latter were often literate and skilled professionals stifled by colonial rule. They, too, were drawn by the expectation of joining the expanding US economy but would face disappointment once denied the “opportunities and privileges of modern civilization” in a country that drew a more rigid color line.63

As black people continued to suffer from colonialism, white imperialism, and Jim Crow, many tried to use World War I as a means of gaining the rights of citizenship. Thousands of West Indians volunteered for service in the British Army. More than 380,000 African Americans fought for the United States. W. E. B. Du Bois, now the foremost black activist in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), urged them on. For him, martial sacrifice was a precursor to full inclusion in modern democratic society. It was a way to advance the NAACP’s expressed mission “to promote equality of rights . . . eradicate caste or race prejudice among citizens of the United States . . . and to increase [African Americans’] opportunities for securing . . . complete equality before the law.”64

Some black women sought similar opportunities from the United States’ entry into World War I. For example, the NACW announced that the “great World’s War, in which we have been so deeply plunged and one that has no parallel in history, has been the means of a closer cooperation.” It inspired greater collaboration among black women and white organizations that joined US war efforts at home and overseas. Besides conserving food on the home front and joining the Red Cross, black women including prominent clubwoman Addie Hunton accepted an offer from the Young Men’s Christian Association to work with the thousands of black troops stationed in Europe. They knew that the Jim Crow United States was no beacon of democracy, but supported its war efforts as part of their own struggle for citizenship and self-determination.65

For black female activists, the war delivered on few of its promises. In Europe, Hunton encountered black volunteers from the United States and West Indies whose poor treatment mirrored those of Africans recruited into military service by the European colonial powers. She saw and experienced a replication of the same racial hierarchies that plagued the United States and the colonized world. “It was our privilege to go overseas as welfare worker (sic) under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A.,” Hunton and a colleague later wrote. “But to help to mar the beauty and joy of this service was ever-present war, with its awful toll of death and suffering; and then the service of the colored welfare workers was more or less clouded at all times with that biting and stinging thing which is ever shadowing us in our own country.”66

It was, in part, the collision of lofty hopes and continued frustrations in the midst of world war that accelerated the rise of the largest black mass movement in world history. In 1914, Marcus Garvey decided to establish the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA) in order to improve the lives of black people in Jamaica through educational and industrial progress. He could not have done so without the intellectual and material contributions of Amy Ashwood. The young Jamaican labor activist who spent much of her childhood in Panama hosted many of the earliest meetings of the UNIA at her parents’ home and secured financial supporters for the organization through some of her family’s contacts. Before long, she had married Marcus Garvey and become his principal adviser and general secretary of the UNIA.67

Figure 4. Members of the Universal African Black Cross Nurses parade through Harlem at the outset of the 1922 Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) Annual Convention. Founded in 1920, the Black Cross Nurses was a black women’s group organized on the local level. Although formally an auxiliary to the patriarchal UNIA, its members extended critical public health and educational services to black communities worldwide. Corbis.

Under the leadership of Amy Ashwood and Marcus Garvey, the UNIA, which soon adopted a more ambitious program and claimed more than four hundred divisions throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, and the United States, drew from a long tradition of pan-Africanism and black nationalism. The organization emphasized race pride and racial separatism. It also called for the redemption of Africa from European colonial rule and encouraged black emigration from the Americas to Africa. Black economic and political self-determination was a principal goal. As the massive toll of World War I highlighted the futility of black patriotism and the precariousness of Western civilization, the UNIA promised the impending fulfillment of the Ethiopian prophesy. It predicted that a renaissance of black life and culture would soon occur and a powerful black empire would surely arise through independent black educational and entrepreneurial pursuits, the civilizing effect of Afro-Christianity, and the uplift of the African Diaspora united on the principle of “One God! One Aim! One Destiny!”68

That message resonated with the millions of black women who composed much of the UNIA’s membership. Official UNIA literature characterized the ideal black woman as a mother, housewife, and helpmeet. She was respectable according to enduring Victorian standards. Still, black women, once again, flipped patriarchal expectations on their head. Writing for the UNIA’s Negro World and assuming leadership in its divisions across the world, they claimed the UNIA as “our church, our clubhouse, our theatre, our fraternal order and our school.”69 They owned the radical work of remaking black internationalism for the post–World War I generation.70

Black Women and the Remaking of Black Internationalism

After World War I, the UNIA’s message resonated with millions of black people. Indeed, the UNIA’s message seemed urgent to Africans excluded from the Paris Peace Conference that ended the war and rang true to African Americans forced to defend themselves from mob violence in the Red Summer of 1919.

In fact, the UNIA helped to popularize a global language of black liberation that could not be confined to a single organization. In the years following World War I, an unprecedented geographical expansion and institutionalization of black internationalism bloomed. A revitalized Pan-African Congress brought together black anti-colonialists and anti-imperialists from Africa, Europe, and the Americas. At the same time, in the wake of the Russian Revolution, black Marxists including Grace Campbell and Amy Ashwood Garvey reshaped the ideological contours of communism and pan-Africanism in organizations including Harlem’s African Blood Brotherhood (ABB) and London’s International African Service Bureau (IASB). The causes espoused in those organizations and others ranged from ending the US occupation of Haiti to dismantling Jim Crow to fighting for Ethiopia during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. They all possessed an urgency for black men and women who demonstrated a global consciousness and strove for universal emancipation from the living legacies of slavery and racial domination.

As always, black women remained central to these institutions, but some now forged a more independent path. In 1922, black women, many of them frustrated by the racism that plagued white women’s organizing and the sexism that pervaded male-dominated black institutions, came together to form the International Council of Women of the Darker Races (ICWDR). It was the first independent international organization of black women in the history of the United States. From its founding, the ICWDR took up the work of building “some kind of definite cooperation among the women of all the darker races for the purpose of studying the conditions under which each subgroup lived and progressed, of disseminating knowledge of their handicaps and of their achievements, and of stimulating by closer fellowship and understanding to higher endeavor.”71 Although drawn primarily from the middle class, it did achieve its founding goals through investigations of US-occupied Haiti; a membership that included women of African descent from West Africa, the United States, and the Caribbean; and study clubs to educate members about the “darker races of the world.”72

For Adelaide Casely Hayford, the Sierra Leonean who served as the fourth vice president of the ICWDR, the practice of black internationalism had unique relevance for the work of black education. Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in June 1868, Casely Hayford spent her childhood and early adulthood moving among Sierra Leone, England, the Isle of Jersey, Germany, and the Gold Coast, the British colony where her husband, a prominent pan-Africanist author and editor, was born.73 In 1914, Casely Hayford, having separated from the husband with whom she had exchanged ideas about anti-colonialism and African self-rule, returned to Freetown with her daughter, the poet Gladys Casely Hayford. She then set her sights on improving the educational opportunities for girls in Sierra Leone, her homeland that was then under British rule. Rejecting her earlier feeling that England had become her “real home” and reflecting on how an “excellent European education” had once made her and her sister “strangers to the African environment,” Casely Hayford embraced an educational philosophy based in a belief in the value of vocational education and racial pride.74 Her Girls’ Vocational and Training School, which opened in October 1923 with financial support from black clubwomen in the United States, was born out of Casely Hayford’s belief that Africans’ “most immediate need was an education which would instill into us a love of country, a pride of race, an enthusiasm for the black man’s capabilities, and a genuine admiration for Africa’s wonderful art work.”75

While Casely Hayford’s emphasis on training Sierra Leonean girls in basket-weaving and other “practical” skills needed for domestic life reflects an acceptance of some Victorian-era gender norms, her desire to instill race pride into her female pupils reveals more subversive internationalist ideas and politics. At the turn of the 20th century, Casely Hayford gave public lectures in which she argued that African women should play a larger role in the social and political lives of their patriarchal societies. Her political affiliations and travels nurtured that proto-feminism and related, pan-Africanist sensibilities. In 1919, Casely Hayford became the president of the Ladies’ Division of the UNIA in Freetown and, one year later, she left Sierra Leone to raise funds for her school and to promote African culture among black women in the United States. By the time she returned to Freetown more than two and a half years later, Casely Hayford possessed a more pronounced sense of black unity across the African Diaspora and a new commitment to wearing African dress that would “instill into us some form of racial pride and would help us to foster a national spirit.”76 In fact, she came home with a renewed sense that educated black women could become leaders in a postcolonial future “in which Africa shall be allowed a chance to expand and develop along her own ideas and ideals, grafting from Western civilization only that which is necessary for her development and progress on up-to-date lines.”77

Ultimately, Casely Hayford and the women of the ICWDR were not only part of what scholars Michael O. West and William G. Martin have called the “black internationalist revival” but also forebearers of another generation of black activists and intellectuals.78 As black internationalism continued to expand its geographic scope and became more coordinated in the decades following the First World War, black women across the world and the political spectrum pushed their activism and intellectual production in new directions. At the end of the US occupation of Haiti, middle-class and elite Haitian women did not just found La Ligue Feminine d’Action Sociale (The Women’s League for Social Action), the first Haitian women’s rights organization, but also allied with Afro-Canadian and African American women activists in order to advance their struggle for the franchise and other civil and political rights.79 Meanwhile, their peers on the black Left, including Trinidadian activist Claudia Jones, spearheaded the international defense of the Scottsboro Boys, nine black youths falsely accused of raping two white women in Alabama, while fusing socialism with internationalism and women’s liberation.80 In their own ways, both created a blueprint for black internationalist feminism. That radical, intersectional critique of the global systems of patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, racism, militarism, and heterosexism emerged in full force following the Second World War. Its proponents, black women activists, workers, educators, and scholars throughout Africa and the African Diaspora, did not just strive for desegregation and decolonization but also sought to dismantle all social hierarchies including the ones that their ancestors like Phyllis Wheatley lacked sufficient language to challenge.81

Discussion of the Literature

The study of black internationalism is as old as the study of black history.82 It has, however, exploded in recent years. In the age of globalization and in the midst of a larger transnational turn in the field of US history, more and more scholars have compared the black experience across the African Diaspora, examined the global dimension of local and national black freedom struggles, and highlighted how black intellectuals and activists engaged in international politics as state and nonstate actors.83 They have increasingly emulated the actions and words of their globally conscious subjects and rejected the primacy of the nation-state as a mode of analysis.

Although much of the scholarship on black internationalism remains focused on black men and male-led institutions, scholars are paying more attention to the importance of gender in the practice of black internationalism and the global activism and thought of black women. Published works include organizational histories that center on the work of their female leadership and rank-and-file members, individual and collective biographies of black women activists and intellectuals, and studies of 20th-century black radicalism. They span the subfields of social, intellectual, cultural, and political histories, often blurring their fluid boundaries in the process.

Given the prominence of the UNIA, it is unsurprising that much of the foundational scholarship on black women’s internationalism focuses on black women in that organization. In their pioneering works, scholars including William Seraile, Barbara Bair, and Karen S. Adler have shown that the UNIA’s emphasis on traditional gender roles was meant to undermine racist stereotypes about “feminine” black men excluded from skilled jobs and “masculine” black women who often had to work outside of the home. They also demonstrated how black women Garveyites navigated those roles. From Africa to the Americas, rank-and-file members of the UNIA’s Black Cross Nurses and UNIA leaders like Henrietta Vinton Davis and Amy Jacques Garvey, the Jamaican pan-Africanist who married Marcus Garvey following his separation from Amy Ashwood, often embraced black nationalist gender ideologies. Yet they routinely rejected the expectations of subservience and passivity implied in the labels of helpmeet, wife, and mother by assuming positions of leadership within the UNIA and their communities.84

As subsequent biographies of Amy Jacques Garvey advanced scholars’ understanding of black women’s internationalism, so did explorations of her peers on the black Left. Critical biographies that engage the intertwined histories of black women, Marxism, and black internationalism include Gerald Horne’s Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois, Carole Boyce Davies’s Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones, and Barbara Ransby’s Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson.85 These works demonstrate how black women activists and intellectuals, often overshadowed by their male colleagues and husbands, championed the black freedom struggle in the United States; various independence movements in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean; and socialist causes throughout the world. They show how black women internationalists of the 20th century confronted sex-based discrimination and anti-communist repression while increasingly incorporating black feminism into their activism and intellectual practice.

While scholars have continued to address black internationalist feminists in the making of the black Left, several works also highlight black women who collectively advanced the global politics of black nationalism and Black Power.86 In Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom, Keisha N. Blain recasts the period from the collapse of the UNIA in the mid-1920s to the early Cold War as one of global “black nationalist ferment” rather than black nationalist decline thanks to the international work of black women including Mittie Maude Lena Gordon, Amy Jacques Garvey, and Amy Ashwood Garvey.87 She recovers a “golden age of black nationalist women’s political activism” that paved the way for black activists in what Michael O. West and William G. Martin call the “long Black Sixties.”88 In the first comprehensive history of black women’s activism and intellectual production during the Black Power era, Ashley D. Farmer shows how black women in the United States produced new models of black womanhood in order to further the revolutionary work of Black Power and deconstruct dominant hierarchies of gender, class, and race. In doing so, they articulated a global consciousness, often representing themselves as part of “Black and Third World collectives and as the vanguard of antiracist, anticapitalist, and antisexist liberation struggles.”89

These works should inspire scholars to push the study of black women’s internationalism in new chronological, geographic, and conceptual directions. More can and should be done to highlight the global visions of black freedom that women advanced during the 19th century, a period still underrepresented in a subfield that has prioritized the 20th century. Moreover, there remains a need to reconceptualize what beyond political activism constitutes black women’s internationalism. How, for instance, did black women use consumer practices to articulate ideas or advance activist goals central to black internationalism?90 How can a robust gender analysis improve scholars’ understanding of travel, for leisure and work, as internationalist expressions?91 What, in short, are the theoretical as well as geographic boundaries of black women’s internationalism?

Scholars who bring black women from the margins to the center confirm the expansive possibilities of black internationalist ideologies and practices. They introduce overlooked intellectuals—including teachers, missionaries, and beauticians—as globally conscious actors and draw attention to clothing and hair as central expressions of global Black Power politics.92 In fact, they demonstrate a fuller range of the political, cultural, intellectual, economic, and social practices that can and have strengthened the struggle for universal emancipation from racial, class, and gender oppression.

Primary Sources

The archives of black women’s internationalism are vast. They include organizational records, newspapers, and oral histories and are found everywhere from libraries to private homes to online repositories. Although historically atypical and still underused, recent digitization efforts have made valuable sources about and produced by black women more accessible than ever.

Scholars interested in further exploring the role of black women in transnational abolitionism should consult the Black Abolitionist Papers. This immense collection of primary sources is available through an online database accessible through ProQuest. Students and scholars without institutional access to ProQuest should refer to the five-volume set of The Black Abolitionist Papers published by the University of North Carolina Press.93

Moreover, newspaper collections, another subject of recent digitization projects, are also foundational to the study of 19th-century black women’s internationalism. The Readex African American Newspapers, Series 1 and 2, 1827–1998 includes Freedom’s Journal among its more than four hundred newspapers in which black women often appeared as globally conscious writers and subjects. Moreover, searchable issues of The Christian Recorder are found in the Accessible Archives’ African American Newspapers database. That newspaper, the official organ of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, contains critical information about the role of US black churchwomen as leaders of foreign missions.

The greater Washington, DC region is an important stop for scholars and students exploring the internationalism of black clubwomen. The rich collections at Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and the Library of Congress include the personal papers of prominent black clubwomen including Mary Church Terrell, Layle Lane, Harriett Gibbs Marshall, and Nannie Helen Burroughs. Likewise, the neighboring National Archives for Black Women’s History features the records of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). The members of the NCNW involved themselves in international causes ranging from involvement in the fight for women’s rights in Haiti to work alongside South Africans in the anti-apartheid struggle.94

Individuals interested in the global politics of black nationalist women should begin their searches in three primary source collections related to the UNIA. First, the Robert A. Hill Collection of the Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers Project Records at Duke University contains many materials that are not included in the thirteen-volume Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers.95 Of course, those published volumes remain an invaluable resource for the study of global Garveyism. Along with those books, the Negro World, the official organ of the UNIA that featured black women’s writings in the section entitled “Our Women and What They Think,” offers unique insights into the doing and thinking of black women involved in the global struggle for black freedom. Many issues have been digitized in the Center for Research Libraries, an international consortium of research libraries. Finally, students and scholars of black women’s internationalism should consult the Amy Jacques Garvey Papers in Fisk University’s Special Collections.

Besides archival material related to the UNIA, the records of mainstream civil rights organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the archives of federal agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are valuable to the study of black women’s internationalism. The NAACP records contain countless sources by and about black women involved in international political organizing and protest while the FBI archives show the state repression often faced by the most radical of those black women internationalists. Both are available at the Library of Congress and through History Vault, an online archival collection available through ProQuest.

Ultimately, this list highlights digital and US-based archives that are accessible, foundational, large, and in close proximity to other relevant collections. It is, of course, not exhaustive. Historians invested in reframing the traditionally male-centered study of black internationalism can draw from a number of other archives including those that black women are creating in this very moment.96

Further Reading

  • Adler, Karen S. “‘Always Leading Our Men in Service and Sacrifice’: Amy Jacques Garvey, Feminist Black Nationalist.” Gender & Society 6, no. 3 (1992): 346–375.
  • Andrews, Gregg. Thyra J. Edwards: Black Activist in the Global Freedom Struggle. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011.
  • Bair, Barbara. “True Women, Real Men: Gender, Ideology, and Social Roles in the Garvey Movement.” In Gendered Domains: Rethinking Public and Private in Women’s History. Edited by Dorothy O. Helly and Susan M. Reverby, 154–166. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992.
  • Bay, Mia, Farah J. Griffin, Martha S. Jones, and Barbara D. Savage, eds. Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.
  • Blain, Keisha N. Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018.
  • Blain, Keisha N., and Tiffany M. Gill, eds. To Turn This Whole World Over: Black Women and Internationalism. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019.
  • Blain, Keisha N., Ula Y. Taylor, and Asia Leeds, eds. “Women, Gender Politics, and Pan-Africanism.” Special issue, Women, Gender, and Families of Color 4, no. 2 (Fall 2016).
  • Byrd, Brandon R. “The Transnational Work of Moral Elevation: African American Women and the Reformation of Haiti, 1874–1950.” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 5, no. 2 (2016): 128–150.
  • Davies, Carole Boyce. Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.
  • Gore, Dayo F. Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War. New York: New York University Press, 2011.
  • Higashida, Cheryl. Black Internationalist Feminism: Women Writers of the Black Left, 1945–1995. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012.
  • Horne, Gerald. Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois. New York: New York University Press, 2002.
  • Kelley, Robin D. G. “‘But a Local Phase of a World Problem’: Black History’s Global Vision, 1883–1950.” In “The Nation and Beyond: Transnational Perspectives on United States History,” special issue, Journal of American History 86, no. 3 (December 1999): 1045–1077.
  • Leeds, Asia. “Toward the ‘Higher Type of Womanhood’: The Gendered Contours of Garveyism and the Making of Redemptive Geographies in Costa Rica, 1922–1941.” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 2, no. 1 (2013): 1–27.
  • Makalani, Minkah. “An International African Opinion: Amy Ashwood Garvey and C. L. R. James in Black Radical London.” In Escape from New York: The New Negro Renaissance Beyond Harlem. Edited by Davarian L. Baldwin and Minkah Makalani, 77–103. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.
  • Martin, Tony. Amy Ashwood Garvey: Pan-Africanist, Feminist, and Mrs. Marcus Garvey Number 1 (or A Tale of Two Amies). Dover, MA: Majority Press, 2007.
  • McDuffie, Erik S. Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.
  • Ransby, Barbara. Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013.
  • Reddock, Rhoda. “The First Mrs. Garvey: Pan-Africanism and Feminism in the Early Twentieth Century British Colonial Caribbean.” Feminist Africa 19 (2014): 58–77.
  • Richards, Yevette. Maida Springer: Pan-Africanist and International Labor Leader. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004.
  • Sharpley-Whiting, T. Denean. Bricktop’s Paris: African American Women in Paris Between the Two World Wars. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015.
  • Taylor, Ula Y. The Veiled Garvey: The Life and Times of Amy Jacques Garvey. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.


  • 1. Margaretta Matilda Odell, Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley, a Native African and a Slave (Boston: George W. Light, 1834), 9.

  • 2. Odell, Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley, 42.

  • 3. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “Phillis Wheatley on Trial,” New Yorker, January 20, 2003.

  • 4. Sylvia Frey, “The American Revolution and the Creation of a Global African World,” in From Toussaint to Tupac: The Black International since the Age of Revolution, ed. Michael O. West, William G. Martin, and Fanon Che Wilkins (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 56.

  • 5. Michael O. West and William G. Martin, “Contours of the Black International,” in From Toussaint to Tupac: The Black International since the Age of Revolution, ed. Michael O. West, William G. Martin, and Fanon Che Wilkins (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 1–44.

  • 6. Historians of American religion disagree over the significance of the Great Awakening with some even suggesting that it is more myth than reality. That historiographical debate is beyond the scope of this essay, but influential scholarship on the subject includes Jon Butler, “Enthusiasm Described and Decried: The Great Awakening as Interpretive Fiction,” Journal of American History 69 (October 1982): 305–325; Frank Lambert, Inventing the Great Awakening (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999); and Thomas Kidd, The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007).

  • 7. Frey, “The American Revolution,” 48–52.

  • 8. Jon F. Sensbach, Rebecca’s Revival: Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 5.

  • 9. Gerald Horne, The Counterrevolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America (New York: New York University Press, 2014).

  • 10. Cassandra Pybus, Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty (Boston: Beacon Press, 2006).

  • 11. The author’s definition of pan-Africanism is most influenced by Hakim Adi and Marika Sherwood, Pan-African History: Political Figures from Africa and the Diaspora since 1787 (New York: Routledge, 2003).

  • 12. Laurent Dubois has made the compelling case that Haiti, not the United States or France, should be at the center of the Age of Revolution. See Dubois, “Why Haiti Should Be at the Centre of the Age of Revolution,” Aeon, November 7, 2016.

  • 13. On the role of women in the Haitian Revolution, see especially Colin Dayan, Haiti, History, and the Gods (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); and Jana Evans Braziel, “Re-membering Défilée: Dédée Bazile as Revolutionary Lieu de Mémoire,”Small Axe 18 (September 2005): 57–85.

  • 14. Alfred N. Hunt, Haiti’s Influence on Antebellum America: Slumbering Volcano in the Caribbean (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006); David Geggus, ed., The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001); and David Geggus, “The Sounds and Echoes of Freedom: The Impact of the Haitian Revolution on Latin America,” in Beyond Slavery: The Multilayered Legacy of Africans in Latin America and the Caribbean, ed. Darién J. Davis (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), 19–36.

  • 15. Maurice Jackson and Jacqueline Bacon, African Americans and the Haitian Revolution: Selected Essays and Historical Documents (New York: Routledge, 2010).

  • 16. Niles’ Weekly Register, July 1, 1820. On Boyer, pan-Africanism, and the 1820s Haitian emigration movement, see especially Elizabeth Rauh Bethel, The Roots of African American Identity: Memory and History in Free Antebellum Communities (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997); and Sara Fanning, Caribbean Crossing: African Americans and the Haitian Emigration Movement (New York: New York University Press, 2015).

  • 17. “The Emigrants in Hayti,” Genius of Universal Emancipation, August 1830, 68.

  • 18. Foundational and recent works on the black experience in the antebellum North include Leslie M. Alexander, African or American? Black Identity and Political Activism in New York City, 1784–1861 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008); Leslie M. Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626–1863 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004); James O. Horton and Lois E. Horton, In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, and Protest among Northern Free Blacks, 1700–1860 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); and Leon Litwack, North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790–1860 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961).

  • 19. Jacqueline Bacon, Freedom’s Journal: The First African-American Newspaper (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007).

  • 20. Frances Smith Foster, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Theresa?,” African American Review 40, no. 4 (Winter 2006): 631–635.

  • 21. Marlene L. Daut raises these possibilities in Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789–1865 (Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2015), 290–293. Foster suggests that Prince Saunders, a black educator who emigrated from the United States to Haiti, probably wrote “Theresa.” Another literary scholar infers that James McCune Smith, a black New Yorker who would later deliver a well-known lecture on the Haitian Revolution, is the most likely author of “Theresa” because an article in a December 1828 issue of Freedom’s Journal linked to him was signed only with the letter “S.” See Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., The Origins of African American Literature, 1680–1865 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2001), 172.

  • 22. Maria W. Stewart, “An Address Delivered Before the Afric-American Female Intelligence Society of Boston. By Mrs. Maria W. Stewart,” Liberator, April 28, 1832.

  • 23. Julie Winch, A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 220.

  • 24. Sarah Louise Forten, “The Abuse of Liberty,” Liberator, March 26, 1831.

  • 25. Charles Forsdick and Christian Hogsbjerg, Toussaint Louverture: A Black Jacobin in the Age of Revolutions (London: Pluto Press, 2017).

  • 26. Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave (London: F. Westley and A. H. Davis, 1831).

  • 27. George Frederickson, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817–1914 (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1971); Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People (New York: W. W. Norton, 2010); and Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (New York: Nation Books, 2016).

  • 28. Patrick Rael, Black Identity and Black Protest in the Antebellum North (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 209–236.

  • 29. The author’s definition of black nationalism draws from several recent and foundational sources including Leslie M. Alexander, African or American? Black Identity and Political Activism in New York City, 1784–1861 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008); Wilson Jeremiah Moses, The Golden Age of Black Nationalism (Camden, CT; Archon Books, 1978); Sterling Stuckey, The Ideological Origins of Black Nationalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972); E. U. Essien-Udom, Black Nationalism: A Search for Identity in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962); and John H. Bracey Jr., August Meier, and Elliott Rudwick, eds., Free Blacks in America, 1800–1860 (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1971).

  • 30. Jackson and Bacon, African Americans and the Haitian Revolution.

  • 31. Afua P. Cooper, “Black Women and Work in Nineteenth-Century Canada West: Black Woman Teacher Mary Bibb,” in “We're Rooted Here and They Can't Pull Us Up”: Essays in African Canadian Women’s History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994).

  • 32. Henry Bibb, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, introduction by Charles J. Heglar (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2000).

  • 33. Kathy L. Glass, Courting Communities: Black Female Nationalism and “Syncre-Nationalism” in the Nineteenth-Century North (New York: Routledge, 2006); Jim Bearden and Linda Jean Butler, Shadd: The Life and Times of Mary Shadd Cary (Toronto: NC Press, 1977); and Jane Rhodes, Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998).

  • 34. Willi Coleman, “‘Like Hot Lead to Pour on the Americans . . .’: Sarah Parker Remond—From Salem, Mass., to the British Isles,” in Women’s Rights and Transatlantic Anti-Slavery in the Era of Emancipation, ed. Kathryn Kish Sklar and James Stewart (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007), 177.

  • 35. Gad Heuman, “The Killing Time”: The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995).

  • 36. Sarah P. Remond, letter to the editor, London Daily News, November 7, 1865, in The Black Abolitionist Papers, vol. 1,The British Isles, 1830–1865 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985), 568. On the relationship between Great Britain and the Confederacy, see Richard J. M. Blackett, Divided Hearts: Britain and the American Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001).

  • 37. W. E. B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860–1880 (New York: Free Press, 1998), 30.

  • 38. Daniel W. Stowell, Rebuilding Zion: The Religious Reconstruction of the South, 1863–1877 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).

  • 39. Clarence W. Walker, A Rock in a Weary Land: The African Methodist Episcopal Church during the Civil War and Reconstruction (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982).

  • 40. William E. Montgomery, Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree: African American Churches in the South, 1865–1900 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993).

  • 41. Matthew Harper, “Emancipation and African American Millennialism,” in Apocalypse and the Millennium in the American Civil War Era, ed. Ben Wright and Zachary W. Dresser (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2013), 154–174.

  • 42. Roy Kay, The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2011).

  • 43. Bettye Collier-Thomas, Jesus, Jobs, and Justice: African American Women and Religion (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), 152–154.

  • 44. Kevin K. Gaines, Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture during the Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); and Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 25, 31–35.

  • 45. Mary Ella Mossell, “Domestic Life in Hayti,” A.M.E. Church Review (1887): 393–398 quoted in Brandon R. Byrd, “The Transnational Work of Moral Elevation: African American Women and the Reformation of Haiti, 1874–1950,” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 5, no. 2 (2016): 135.

  • 46. Kevin Gaines, “Black Americans’ Racial Uplift Ideology as ‘Civilizing Mission’: Pauline E. Hopkins on Race and Imperialism,” in Cultures of United States Imperialism, ed. Amy Kaplan and Donald E. Pease (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993), 433–455.

  • 47. “Hayti,” Crisis, September 4, 1867, quoted in Brandon R. Byrd, “The Transnational Work of Moral Elevation: African American Women and the Reformation of Haiti, 1874–1950,” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 5, no. 2 (2016): 131.

  • 48. On the “scramble for Africa,” see especially Steig Förster, Wolfgang J. Mommsen, and Ronald Robinson, eds., Bismarck, Europe and Africa: The Berlin Africa Conference, 1884–1885 and the Onset of Partition (London: Oxford University Press, 1988); and H. L. Wesseling, Divide and Rule: The Partition of Africa, 1880–1914 (London: Praeger, 1996).

  • 49. Nell Irvin Painter, Standing at Armageddon: A Grassroots History of the Progressive Era (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008); and Leon Litwack, Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow (New York: Vintage Books, 1998).

  • 50. Sarah L. Silkey, “Redirecting the Tide of White Imperialism: The Impact of Ida B. Wells’s Transatlantic Antilynching Campaign on British Conceptions of American Race Relations,” in Women Shaping the South: Creating and Confronting Change, ed. Angela Boswell and Judith N. McArthur (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006), 97–119.

  • 51. Alfreda M. Duster, ed., Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), 190.

  • 52. Fraternity, July 14, 1894, quoted in Patricia Ann Schechter, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880–1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 99.

  • 53. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880–1920 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 185–230.

  • 54. “Minutes,” Journal of the Twentieth Annual Session of the National Baptist Convention (1900): 196.

  • 55. “A Worthy Young Woman,” National Baptist Union, March 5, 1904.

  • 56. “Minutes,” Journal of the Twentieth Annual Session of the National Baptist Convention, 196. On Burroughs and the founding of the WC, see Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent, 150–184.

  • 57. “Our Foreign Students,” Journal of the Eleventh Annual Session of the Woman’s Convention, Auxiliary to the National Baptist Convention, quoted in Brandon R. Byrd, “The Transnational Work of Moral Elevation: African American Women and the Reformation of Haiti, 1874–1950,” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 5, no. 2 (2016): 137.

  • 58. Pan-African Association, “To the Nations of the World,” W. E. B. Du Bois Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Libraries. Scholarship on the Pan-African Conference of 1900 still begins with Alexander Walters, My Life and Work (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1917), 253–264.

  • 59. Mary Church Terrell, A Colored Woman in a White World (Washington, DC: Ransdell, 1940; reprinted New York: G. K. Hall, 1996), 204. On Terrell, see Alison Parker, Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming).

  • 60. Adella Hunt Logan, “Why the National Association of Colored Women Should Become a Part of the National Council of Women of the United States,” National Association Notes, December 1899, 1, quoted in Michelle Rief, “Thinking Locally, Acting Globally: The International Agenda of African American Clubwomen,” in “New Directions in African American Women’s History,” special issue, Journal of African American History 89, no. 3 (Summer 2004): 205. Also, see Melissa Plastas, A Band of Noble Women: Racial Politics in the Women’s Peace Movement (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2011).

  • 61. Brandon R. Byrd, “‘To Start Something to Help These People’: African American Women and the Occupation of Haiti, 1915–1934,” Journal of Haitian Studies 21, no. 2 (December 2015): 127–153.

  • 62. Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

  • 63. Foundational scholarship on WWI–era black migrations include Joe William Trotter, Jr., ed., The Great Migration in Historical Perspective: New Dimensions of Race, Class, and Gender (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991); Winston James, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia: Caribbean Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century America (New York: Verso Books, 1998); and Lara Putnam, Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013).

  • 64. Charter of the NAACP. On African American soldiers in World War I, see Adriane Lentz-Smith, Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009); and Chad L. Williams, Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

  • 65. Michelle Rief, “Thinking Locally, Acting Globally: The International Agenda of African American Clubwomen,” in “New Directions in African American Women’s History,” special issue, Journal of African American History 89, no. 3 (Summer 2004): 208–211.

  • 66. Addie W. Hunton and Kathryn M. Johnson, Two Colored Women with the American Expeditionary Forces (Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Eagle Press, 1920), 22–23.

  • 67. Lionel Yard, Biography of Amy Ashwood, 1897–1969: Co-founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (Washington, DC: Associated Publisher, 1990); and Tony Martin, Amy Ashwood Garvey: Pan-Africanist, Feminist and Mrs. Marcus Garvey No. 1 (or A Tale of Two Amies) (Dover, MA: Majority Press, 2007), 2.

  • 68. Background information on the UNIA draws from Edmund David Cronon, Black Moses: The Story of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1955); Tony Martin, Race First: The Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1976); Robert A. Hill, ed., The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, vol. 1,1826–August 1919 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), xxxv–xc, 3–20; Judith Stein, The World of Marcus Garvey: Race and Class in Modern Society (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986); Wilson Jeremiah Moses, Creative Conflict in African American Thought: Frederick Douglass, Alexander Crummell, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Marcus Garvey (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 231–283; and Colin Grant, Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). See also Adam Ewing, The Age of Garvey: How a Jamaican Activist Created a Mass Movement & Changed Global Black Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014).

  • 69. Claudrena Harold, The Rise and Fall of the Garvey Movement in the Urban South, 1918–1942 (New York: Routledge, 2007), 45.

  • 70. Recent works on black women and Garveyism include Asia Leeds, “‘Toward the ‘Higher Type of Womanhood’: The Gendered Contours of Garveyism and the Making of Redemptive Geographies in Costa Rica, 1922–1941,” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 2, no. 1 (November 2013): 1–27; Keisha N. Blain, “‘We Want to Set the World on Fire’: Black Nationalist Women and Diasporic Politics in the New Negro World, 1940–1944,” Journal of Social History 49, no. 1 (Fall 2015): 194–212; and Natanya Duncan, “If Our Men Hesitate Then the Women of the Race Must Come Forward: Henrietta Vinton Davis and the UNIA in New York,” New York History 94, no.1 (Fall 2015): 558–583.

  • 71. Mary Jackson McCrorey to Margaret Murray Washington, May 16, 1924, Mary Church Terrell Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.

  • 72. Rief, “Thinking Locally, Acting Globally,” 203–222; and Lisa G. Materson, “African American Women’s Global Journeys and the Construction of Cross-Ethnic Racial Identity,” Women’s Studies International Forum 32 (2009): 35–42.

  • 73. On Adelaide Casely Hayford and her husband, Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford, see L. H. Ofosu-Appiah, Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford: The Man of Vision and Faith (Accra: Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1975); Rina Okonkwo, “Adelaide Casely Hayford: Cultural Nationalist and Feminist,” Phylon 42, no. 1 (1st Qtr., 1981): 41–51; and Gaurav Gajanan Desai, “Gendered Self-Fashioning: Adelaide Casely Hayford’s Black Atlantic,” Research in African Literatures 35, no. 3 (Fall 2004): 141–160.

  • 74. Adelaide M. Cromwell, An African Victorian Feminist: The Life and Times of Adelaide Smith Casely Hayford, 1868–1960 (London: Frank Cass, 1986), 19.

  • 75. Adelaide Casely Hayford, “A Girls’ School in West Africa,” Southern Workman (October 1926): 450.

  • 76. Adelaide Casely Hayford, “Afro-American Clubland,” West Africa 5 (November 7, 1921): 1469.

  • 77. Adelaide Casely Hayford, “West Africa in America,” West Africa 5 (January 7, 1922): 1656.

  • 78. West and Martin, “Contours of the Black International,” 8–21.

  • 79. Grace Louise Sanders, “La Voix des Femmes: Haitian Women’s Rights, National Politics and Black Activism in Port-au-Prince and Montreal, 1934–1986” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2013).

  • 80. Carole Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007).

  • 81. Cheryl Higashida, Black Internationalist Feminism: Women Writers of the Black Left, 1955–1995 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012). See also Erik McDuffie,Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011); and Dayo F. Gore, Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War (New York: New York University Press, 2011).

  • 82. Stephen G. Hall, A Faithful Account of the Race: African American Historical Writing in Nineteenth Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

  • 83. Ian Tyrrell, “Reflections on the Transnational Turn in United States History: Theory and Practice,” Journal of Global History 4, no. 3 (November 2009): 453–474.

  • 84. William Seraile, “Henrietta Vinton Davis and the Garvey Movement,” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History 7 (1983): 7–24; Barbara Bair, “True Women, Real Mean: Gender, Ideology, and Social Roles in the Garvey Movement,” in Gendered Domains: Rethinking Public and Private in Women’s History, ed. Doroty O. Helly and Susan Reverby (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992), 154–166; and Karen S. Adler, “‘Always Leading Our Men in Service and Sacrifice’: Amy Jacques Garvey, Feminist Black Nationalist,” Gender & Society 6, no. 3 (1992): 346–375.

  • 85. Gerald Horne, Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois (New York: New York University Press, 2002); Davies, Left of Karl Marx; and Barbara Ransby, Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014).

  • 86. Recent and foundational works on black women’s internationalism and leftist activism include Higashida, Black Internationalist Feminism; McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom; Gore, Radicalism at the Crossroads; and Yevette Richards, Maida Springer: Pan-Africanist and International Labor Leader (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000).

  • 87. Keisha N. Blain, Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), 3–4.

  • 88. Blain, Set the World on Fire; and West and Martin, “Contours of the Black International,” 21–33.

  • 89. Ashley D. Farmer, Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017). On black women, black internationalism, and Black Power, see also Robyn C. Spencer, The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016).

  • 90. Here, scholars should build on Davarian L. Baldwin, Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, The Great Migration, and Black Urban Life (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007).

  • 91. T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Bricktop’s Paris: African American Women in Paris Between the Two World Wars (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015).

  • 92. Tiffany M. Gill, Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010); and Tanisha C. Ford, Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

  • 93. C. Peter Ripley, ed., The Black Abolitionist Papers, vol. 1, The British Isles, 1830–1865 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985); C. Peter Ripley, ed., The Black Abolitionist Papers, vol. 2, Canada, 1830–1865 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986); C. Peter Ripley, ed., The Black Abolitionist Papers, vol. 3, The United States, 1830–1846 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991); C. Peter Ripley, ed., The Black Abolitionist Papers, vol. 4, The United States, 1847–1858 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991); and C. Peter Ripley, ed., The Black Abolitionist Papers, vol. 5, The United States, 1859–1865 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992).

  • 94. Brandon R. Byrd, “The Transnational Work of Moral Elevation: African American Women and the Reformation of Haiti, 1874–1950,” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 5, no. 2 (2016): 128–150; and Nicholas Grant, “The National Council of Negro Women and South Africa: Black Internationalism, Motherhood, and the Cold War,” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 5, no. 1 (2016): 59–87.

  • 95. Robert A. Hill, ed., The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, vols. 1–13 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1983–2016).

  • 96. Angela D. LeBlanc-Ernest, Tracye A. Matthews, Mary Phillips, and Robyn C. Spencer, “Herstories: Writing Black Panther Women’s History,” Black Perspectives, October 8, 2016.