The Struggles of John Brown RusswurmThe Life and Writings of a Pan-Africanist Pioneer, 1799-1851

The Struggles of John Brown RusswurmThe Life and Writings of a Pan-Africanist Pioneer, 1799-1851

Winston James

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780814742891

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

John Brown Russwurm (1799–1851) is almost completely missing from the annals of the Pan-African movement, despite the pioneering role he played. Russwurm's life is one of “firsts”: first African American graduate of Maine's Bowdoin College; co-founder of Freedom's Journal, America's first newspaper to be owned, operated, and edited by African Americans; and, following his emigration to Africa, first black governor of the Maryland section of Liberia. Despite his accomplishments, Russwurm struggled internally with the perennial Pan-Africanist dilemma of whether to go to Africa or stay and fight in the United States, and his ordeal was the first of its kind to be experienced and resolved before the public eye. This book supplements the biography with a selection of Russwurm's writings, which vividly demonstrate the trajectory of his political thinking and contribution to Pan-Africanist thought and highlight the challenges confronting the peoples of the African Diaspora. Though enormously rich and powerfully analytical, Russwurm's writings have never been previously anthologized. This book is a unique and unparalleled reflection on the Early American Republic, the African Diaspora, and the wider history of the times. An unblinking observer of and commentator on the condition of African Americans as well as a courageous fighter against white supremacy and for black emancipation, Russwurm's life and writings provide a distinct and articulate voice on race that is as relevant to the present as it was to his own lifetime.