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An African American and Latinx History of the United States
Cover of An African American and Latinx History of the United States
An African American and Latinx History of the United States
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An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights
Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged narrative history, arguing that the "Global South" was crucial to the development of America as we know it. Scholar and activist Paul Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress as exalted by widely taught formulations like "manifest destiny" and "Jacksonian democracy," and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms US history into one of the working class organizing against imperialism.
Drawing on rich narratives and primary source documents, Ortiz links racial segregation in the Southwest and the rise and violent fall of a powerful tradition of Mexican labor organizing in the twentieth century, to May 1, 2006, known as International Workers' Day, when migrant laborers—Chicana/os, Afrocubanos, and immigrants from every continent on earth—united in resistance on the first "Day Without Immigrants." As African American civil rights activists fought Jim Crow laws and Mexican labor organizers warred against the suffocating grip of capitalism, Black and Spanish-language newspapers, abolitionists, and Latin American revolutionaries coalesced around movements built between people from the United States and people from Central America and the Caribbean. In stark contrast to the resurgence of "America First" rhetoric, Black and Latinx intellectuals and organizers today have historically urged the United States to build bridges of solidarity with the nations of the Americas.
Incisive and timely, this bottom-up history, told from the interconnected vantage points of Latinx and African Americans, reveals the radically different ways that people of the diaspora have addressed issues still plaguing the United States today, and it offers a way forward in the continued struggle for universal civil rights.
2018 Winner of the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award
An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights
Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged narrative history, arguing that the "Global South" was crucial to the development of America as we know it. Scholar and activist Paul Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress as exalted by widely taught formulations like "manifest destiny" and "Jacksonian democracy," and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms US history into one of the working class organizing against imperialism.
Drawing on rich narratives and primary source documents, Ortiz links racial segregation in the Southwest and the rise and violent fall of a powerful tradition of Mexican labor organizing in the twentieth century, to May 1, 2006, known as International Workers' Day, when migrant laborers—Chicana/os, Afrocubanos, and immigrants from every continent on earth—united in resistance on the first "Day Without Immigrants." As African American civil rights activists fought Jim Crow laws and Mexican labor organizers warred against the suffocating grip of capitalism, Black and Spanish-language newspapers, abolitionists, and Latin American revolutionaries coalesced around movements built between people from the United States and people from Central America and the Caribbean. In stark contrast to the resurgence of "America First" rhetoric, Black and Latinx intellectuals and organizers today have historically urged the United States to build bridges of solidarity with the nations of the Americas.
Incisive and timely, this bottom-up history, told from the interconnected vantage points of Latinx and African Americans, reveals the radically different ways that people of the diaspora have addressed issues still plaguing the United States today, and it offers a way forward in the continued struggle for universal civil rights.
2018 Winner of the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award
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About the Author-
  • Paul Ortiz is an associate professor of history and the director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida. He is the author of Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920 and coeditor of the oral history Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 13, 2017
    In the latest entry of the Revisioning American History series, Ortiz (Emancipa-
    tion Betrayed), associate professor of history at the University of Florida, celebrates the lives and achievements of men and women of African and Latin-American heritage within the broader narrative of U.S. history. Ortiz emphasizes these groups’ contributions to struggles against slavery, imperialism, and classism throughout the Americas, chronologically organizing instances in which they played a central role in liberation movements, both within the U.S. and across the Western Hemisphere. Beginning with the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), which gave rise to an “emancipatory internationalism” and inspired uprisings against slavery and colonialism throughout the Americas, Ortiz goes on to analyze the confrontation between Mexican advocates of independence and American politicians—such as presidents Madison, Monroe, and John Quincy Adams—who feared the hemisphere-wide spread of liberation ideology. Later chapters examine the international ramifications of the Civil War, African-American involvement in the abolition of slavery in Cuba, and the ways that racism undermined U.S. working-class solidarity. While each chapter is insightful, lucidly written, and extensively researched, the book reads more like a series of articles than a cohesive monograph. Ortiz’s work has much to offer, but does not fulfill the promise of its title.

  • Kirkus

    November 1, 2017
    A concise, alternate history of the United States "about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles."In the latest in the publisher's ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the "Day without Immigrants" in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with "legal" countermeasures.A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, "from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution."

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2018

    The story of American exceptionalism and America as a beacon of liberty is one well understood and oft repeated. According to Ortiz (history, Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed), however, this is a myth that does not hold up when U.S. history is viewed through the lens of African American, Latinx, and indigenous perspectives. For these populations and other marginalized groups, the American experience has not been one of liberty and democracy but of oppression and white dominance. By combing through hundreds of publications created by Native, African, and Latin Americans as well oral histories, Ortiz is able to paint a picture of this country's history that differs greatly from the traditional narrative. He presents the past not as an "exceptional" story of democracy but part of the larger Global South (Latin America, Caribbean, and Africa) fight against imperialism. This slim volume barely scratches the surface of a topic that Ortiz admits is new territory for scholars, but it does provide a challenging and necessary approach to understanding our history. VERDICT A must-read for those who want a deeper perspective than is offered in the traditional history textbook--Michael C. Miller, Austin P.L. & Austin History Ctr., TX

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review "A concise, alternate history of the United States. . . .A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, 'from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.'"
  • Library Journal "A challenging and necessary approach to understanding our history. A must-read for those who want a deeper perspective than is offered in the traditional history textbook."
  • Booklist "A welcome antidote to the poison of current reactionary attitudes toward people of color, their cultures, and place in the US."
  • CHOICE "Here is a far more inclusive, alternative history--one developed from the bottom up--that does not worship the cult of Europe."
  • Los Angeles Review of Books "An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a curriculum as much as it is an ongoing story of liberation. And it does the work of both without resorting to academese, or resembling an academic text at all--to its immense credit."
  • Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America "An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a gift."
  • Greg Grandin, author of Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World "Paul Ortiz is a true people's historian . . . essential reading for our times."
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