Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005: James T. Campbell

A three-century history of African-American journeys back to Africa from an America where depicted travelers or their ancestors were slaves traces the experiences of such people as W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the founders of Liberia. 30,000 first printing.

Many works of history deal with the journeys of blacks in bondage from Africa to the United States along the “middle passage,” but there is also a rich and little examined history of African Americans traveling in the opposite direction. In Middle Passages, award-winning historian James T. Campbell vividly recounts more than two centuries of African American journeys to Africa, including the experiences of such extraordinary figures as Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, Richard Wright, Malcolm X, and Maya Angelou. A truly groundbreaking work, Middle Passages offers a unique perspective on African Americans’ ever-evolving relationship with their ancestral homeland, as well as their complex, often painful relationship with the United States.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Historian Campbell, whose Songs of Zion (1995) traced African Methodist Episcopal Church’s history and garnered multiple awards, here traces the travels and travails of diverse African-Americans-missionary, settler, journalist, tourist, immigrant-who journeyed to Africa over 200-plus years. Campbell’s prologue recalls the 18th century adventures of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (a literate, Wolof-speaking Muslim brought to the U.S. as a slave, whose letter to his father eventually resulted in his return to West Africa); his book ends with the experiences of black journalists covering strife in present day Sierra Leone and Liberia. Relying heavily on traveler’s journals and memoirs, Campbell revisits Africa through the eyes of such lesser-known 19th century figures as freeman and abolitionist Paul Cuffe, A.M.E. reverend Daniel Coker, and back-to-Africa nationalist Martin Delany. He also brings to life turn-of-the-20th-century figures like Charles Spencer Smith and William Sheppard. Accounts of Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, George Schuyler, Richard Wright, and Era Bell Thompson all offer lesser known details of famous lives. A bibliographic essay is particularly valuable for its breadth and judgment. Cambell uses an unexpected conceit to deliver a wealth of history.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Hundreds of years and an ocean between the present and past have not weakened Africa’s strong hold on the imaginations of African Americans. Historian Campbell explores that hold and the incredible efforts to reconnect with Africa by diverse black Americans, including W. E. B. DuBois, Malcolm X, Louis Armstrong, and Alice Walker. He begins with an account of the high-born Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, who was on a slave-trading mission when he was captured in 1730. He was returned to Africa–by way of Maryland and England–in 1734, eventually becoming an agent for the slave trade. Campbell examines the long history of journeys back to Africa and the motivations behind them: repatriation of former slaves, search for homeland, business interests, and Christian missionary work. Campbell also explores the journeys of self-discovery by black Americans, famous and obscure, as well as the growth of an African heritage tourist industry. This is a scholarly but highly accessible examination of the pull of Africa and the ties that continue to bind Africans in the diaspora. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

James T. Campbell (B.A. Yale University, 1980; Ph.D. Stanford University, 1989) is an associate professor of American civilization, Africana studies and history at Brown University. His research focuses on African American history and on the wider history of the black Atlantic. He is the author of Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa (Oxford University Press, 1995), which in 1996 was awarded the Organization of American Historians’ Frederick Jackson Turner Prize and the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for Nonfiction.

James T. Campbell is an associate professor of American Civilization, Africana Studies and History at Brown University.

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ 1594200831
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Press HC, The; First Edition (May 4, 2006)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 544 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1615544550
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1594200830

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s