Graduation Year

Spring 2011

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Lily Geismer

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Rights Information

© 2011 Milan Reed


In the 20th century the relationship between African-Americans and Africa grew into a prominent subject in the lives and perspectives of people who claim African
heritage because almost every facet of American life distinguished people based on skin color. The prevailing discourse of the day said that the way a person looked was deeply to who they were.1 People with dark skin were associated with Africa, and the notion of this connection has survived to this day. Scholars such as Molefi Kete Asante point to cultural retentions as evidence of the enduring connection between African-Americans and Africa, while any person could look to the shade of their skin as an indication of their African origins. In either case, something seems to always hearken back to Africa. However, in this modern world there is a gap between Africans and African Americans: African-Americans have achieved some great milestones in terms of liberty and equality, while many people living on the African continent still suffer poverty, political disenfranchisement, and precluded liberties. African-Americans have made great strides in dealing with these problems at home, but it is clear that they are on the whole better off than their African counterparts. The lectures and writings of W.E.B. Dubois, Malcolm X, and Kwame Nkrumah reveal that the linkages between African-Americans and Africans are political in nature and therefore do not rest solely on connections of culture or color, but on the shared struggle to achieve the unalienable rights guaranteed to all people.