An African American and Latinx History of the United States: An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights

Lecture | February 23 | 2-4 p.m. | Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, Multicultural Community Center

 Paul Ortiz, Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, University of Florida

 Office of Undergraduate Research, American Cultures, Center for Race and Gender, Center for Research on Social Change, Department of Ethnic Studies, Department of African American Studies, Multicultural Community Center

Professor Paul Ortiz will speak about his newly published book, An African American and Latinx History of the United States (Beacon Press, 2018). Spanning more than two hundred years, this much anticipated book 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.

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 co-editor of the oral history Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South.

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