Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (Women's History Colloquium)

Slonim Living Room / Stone Room

Open to the public

/ Thursday

6:00pm-8:00pm

Historians of the era generally portray the period between the Garvey movement of the 1920s and the Black Power movement of the 1960s as one of declining black nationalist activism, but Keisha N. Blain reframes the Great Depression, World War II, and the early Cold War as significant eras of black nationalist—and particularly, black nationalist women's—ferment.

In Chicago, Harlem, and the Mississippi Delta, from Britain to Jamaica, these women built alliances with people of color around the globe, agitating for the rights and liberation of black people in the United States and across the African diaspora. As pragmatic activists, they employed multiple protest strategies and tactics, combined numerous religious and political ideologies, and forged unlikely alliances in their struggles for freedom. Drawing on a variety of previously untapped sources, including newspapers, government records, songs, and poetry, Set the World on Fire highlights the flexibility, adaptability, and experimentation of black women leaders who demanded equal recognition and participation in global civil society.

Keisha N. Blain is a professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. She is an award-winning historian who writes on race, politics, and gender. She is the author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and co-editor of Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism and Racial Violence (University of Georgia Press, 2016); and New Perspectives on the Black Intellectual Tradition (Northwestern University Press, 2018). She is the president of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) and senior editor of its popular blog, Black Perspectives.