African-American Reactions to War in Ethiopia, 1936-1941 | National Humanities Center

Work of the Fellows: Monographs

African-American Reactions to War in Ethiopia, 1936-1941

By Joseph E. Harris (NHC Fellow, 1985–86)

African American History; International Relations; Second Italo-Ethiopian War; History of Ethiopia; Italian History

Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994

From the publisher’s description:

In the early years of this century, the kingdom of Ethiopia captured the attention of many African Americans who saw in that small country's attempts to maintain its independence in the face of colonial encroachment a reflection of their own efforts to achieve freedom and equality in American society. Indeed, Ethiopia's history as an important African civilization had long made it the anchor upon which both continental and diaspora Africans based much of the Pan-African tradition. African-American sympathies with Ethiopia reached a particularly high level during the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1936-1941, which, pitting an aggressive European power against a much weaker, unoffending African country, symbolized for many the ongoing struggle between the races. In this diligently researched and illuminating book, Joseph E. Harris discusses the efforts of black Americans to assist Ethiopia and to claim their common heritage with Africans. Of particular importance were the efforts of African Americans to lobby the reluctant United States government to support Ethiopia. It was through such appeals that many groups and individuals - including Ralph Bunche, the Reverend William Imes, and William Leo Hansberry - found their political voices and discovered a new sense of identity and purpose that served them in subsequent battles for justice. This study, based on years of research in previously unanalyzed sources as well as on the author's personal acquaintance with many of the principal players in the events, makes an important contribution to our understanding of Pan-Africanism and the self-realization of American blacks through their identification and involvement with Africa. It also sheds light onhow African Americans and Italian Americans affected domestic and foreign policy decisions of the United States government.

History / African American History / International Relations / Second Italo-Ethiopian War / History of Ethiopia / Italian History /

Harris, Joseph E. (NHC Fellow, 1985–86). African-American Reactions to War in Ethiopia, 1936-1941. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994.