BlackFacts Details

African-American self-determination

African-American self-determination refers to efforts to secure self-determination for African-Americans and related peoples in North America. It often intersects with the historic Back-to-Africa movement and general Black separatism, but also manifests in present and historic demands for self-determination on North American soil, ranging from autonomy to independence. Reparations for slavery and other oppressions are often a key demand for advocates of African-American self-determination.

Much of the self-determination dialogue has focused on the Black Belt region in the Southeastern United States, and has ranged from self-governing admittance as a state to outright secession from U.S. governance.

The National Movement for the Establishment of a 49th State was established by Chicago-based businessman Oscar Brown, Sr., who sought for the formation of a state within the union on U.S. soil which could be populated and governed by African-Americans, and which could apportion the benefits of the New Deal more equitably to African-Americans. Eventually, the organization fizzled out before the eventual 49th state, Alaska, was admitted to the Union in 1959.

The Republic of New Afrika was an organization which sought three key goals:

Established in 1968, the RNA attracted a number of members, including Robert F. Williams, Betty Shabazz and Chokwe Lumumba. The organization persists to this day.

The idea for outright independence was also adopted by American communist activists. Throughout US history, several revolutionary organizations have sought to promote control of the Black Belt as a separate political nation within the United States. The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) was the first to suggest that African Americans in the Black Belt constituted an oppressed nation, and that they should be allowed to vote on self-determination, as had populations following World War I under rules of the League of Nations. After fierce debate in the Sixth World Congress of the Communist International (Comintern) in 1928, the CPUSA

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