Transcript: 100. Chike Jeffers on the First Half of the Twentieth Century

Chike joins Peter to look back at our coverage of Africana philosophy in the first half of the 20th century.

Note: this transcription was produced by automatic voice recognition software. It has been corrected by hand, but may still contain errors. We are very grateful to Tim Wittenborg for his production of the automated transcripts and for the efforts of a team of volunteer listeners who corrected the texts.

Peter Adamson: We're going to be focusing on the part three of the podcast series, as it were, in which we looked at philosophy sort of from the turn of the 20th century into the middle of the 20th century, where we are now with King and Malcolm X. I thought that we could maybe start thinking about that by talking a little bit about the continuity between the late 19th century and the 20th century. Who do you see as the most influential thinkers that we looked at from the late 19th century, who had an impact on the first decades of Africana thought in the 20th century?

Chike Jeffers: That's a great question. Depending on what we want to highlight from the early part of the 20th century, then you can even go back to someone like Douglas, because when you have the Du Bois versus Washington debate, which is something that we centered in our first episode of part three, you have this interesting aspect of that debate where Du Bois certainly wants to claim the mantle of Douglas and wants to treat Washington as basically abandoning the kind of tradition of protest and a fight for what he calls 'assimilation through self-assertion,' which we can call integration on terms of freedom and equality. He sees Douglas as the leader who represented that most and he sees Washington as betraying that, and he's positioning himself and others like him as fighting for that same ideal that Douglas was fighting for. But the funny thing is that you have Washington at one point, I think, authoring or maybe having a ghostwriter author, a biography of Frederick Douglas. So there's a way in which it's important for Washington to position himself as heir to Douglas. I think we mentioned either in part two or in this part how the very year that Douglas dies, 1895, is when Washington rises to fame with his Atlanta exposition address. Douglas, he loomed large in part two in certain ways, and the Du Bois-Washington debate is one important way in which his legacy is an early 20th century matter. But I do think that another person worth mentioning is Edward Blyden, and I think perhaps more than people realize he is a major influence or rather, maybe what I would say is that even us doing these episodes has helped me to realize what a major influence he was. He's someone that I find interesting in and of himself. And even I think in our conversation for part two, I think I used him as an example of different things that we were talking about that were important in that part on a number of occasions. So I find him interesting in and of himself, but I would say that doing these episodes for part three really shows me the scope of his influence. And partly I mean by that even the geographical scope. So we had an episode early in part three on West African thinkers, particularly in what is now Ghana and what is now Nigeria. And Blyden stuck out as so important that eventually we named the episode In Blyden's Wake. That's where he lived for much of his life, although not in either of those places. He was in of course, Liberia and also Sierra Leone, but he has this huge influence on West African thought as it is developing in the 20th century. And then you have the influence on Garvey. So Washington being somehow an influence on Garvey is in a way more famous and that's because Garvey talks about how reading Up From Slavery made this big impact on him. For those listeners who are philosophers, or who know a lot about the history of Western philosophy, Garvey reading Washington sort of has that stature of Kant being awoken from slumbers by Hume. So Washington is sort of famous in that sense as an influence on Garvey, even though as we pointed out in the episode, it's sort of weird because there are very significant differences between them.

Peter Adamson: Yeah. I mean, Washington is often thought of as like the patron saint of assimilation and Garvey is the patron saint of not-assimilating, for nationalism, separatism.

Chike Jeffers: Right. Yeah. And that's true how the fact that Garvey is so inspired by Washington helps to show how those categories can be very oversimplified. I mean, there's an important sense in which seeing Washington as all about assimilation is weird because he is about accepting separateness in this important sense. And so if you're accepting separateness, you're not really all about assimilation. I think people see him as an assimilationist figure because of the ways in which he was so much about black people fitting themselves into this certain kind of vision of capitalist America. Yeah. So there's all of that, but it did strike me that once you know that Garvey read Blyden early on, and if I recall, we even maybe said that Domingo, the black socialist from Jamaica who knew him was maybe who introduced him to Blyden's work, sort of really fits. It's almost in a way more obvious than Washington, that Blyden would be an influence. And then you think that, okay, maybe it would have petered out following that. But by the time we got to the episode on Negritude, we were mentioning Blyden as an influence again and Senghor himself writes an introduction to an edition of Blyden's letters where he makes it clear that he sees Blyden as a progenitor of Negritude. Now I will say that at that point, Senghor is saying that, 'well, I wasn't reading Blyden. I think that this influence sort of came down to me through...' and then he highlights Du Bois and he highlights Alain Locke and the New Negro as a book. So he sees Blyden's influence as mediated through those figures, but nevertheless, he reconstructs that lineage where Blyden is this figure - of an important progenitor of a tradition within which Senghor sees Negritude as standing. So I think in that regard, Blyden is perhaps a surprisingly important influence on Africana thought as it develops in the 20th century.

Peter Adamson: A name that came up a few times there already is Du Bois. And listeners may not realize, although maybe they figured it out, that while we've been writing these podcasts, you've also been writing a book about Du Bois and that he's someone you've worked on a lot. Would it be fair to say, hey, this podcast has been ridiculously Du Bois centric? And it's just because Chike is figuring out what to cover and he loves Du Bois? Or can you make a case that Du Bois is really such a central figure in early 20th century thought?

Chike Jeffers: That's a fair question. And I think that we can make that case. I mean, here's a true fact. As we mentioned, in between the first episode of part three, where we used Du Bois to introduce the 20th century and the episode where we looked at his later life and thought, or especially we were looking at the years 1920 to his death in 1963, there's a lot of episodes in between them and every one of them mentioned Du Bois. And it's important to remind listeners that as much as I may have planned the general topics, what we're doing, about half of those scripts were written by you. And so in a number of places where you were writing on this or that figure, it just was inescapable to you that you had to write about Du Bois. I mean, my answer to the last question, even when I moved to talking about Blyden's influence, and at every turn, Du Bois has been a figure at least to comment on. So I talked about Blyden's influence on the West African thinkers. But as we saw, J.E. Casely Hayford felt like in order to make the case for Blyden as sort of the greatest African thinker, he had to do the comparison to Du Bois. And Garvey, the feud with Du Bois is hugely important. And as I said, Senghor himself sees Du Bois as a precursor to negritude. So all of the thinkers themselves are making reference to Du Bois. So I don't think we made anything up. I mean, yes, I am totally biased. I do think that Du Bois is one of the most important philosophical minds in world history. So yes, I'm biased. But I think the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

Peter Adamson: Yeah, it's also a very noticeable feature of the secondary literature on the period in general, that scholars will always compare people you might think of as more minor figures to Du Bois. And there's always a reason, right? They all know him. They're all reading him. He's just incredibly influential. He's also so prominent for so long that people do things like trying to get him to back their projects. So socialists would quite like him to come out as a socialist, for example. And he's a little bit standoffish about that. But it means that he's part of the story of socialism as well, even if he's not a fully committed socialist.

Chike Jeffers: He is increasingly a sort of outspoken socialist as his life goes on. But I guess that sort of brings us to another markedly recurring topic in the podcast.

Peter Adamson: Oh, yeah. I mean, that really amazed me, the fact that it seemed for a while there, it seemed like everybody we were covering was some kind of socialist. And so the only meaningful debates within Africana philosophy in these decades was, 'well, what kind of socialist do you want to be?'

Chike Jeffers: What kind of socialist to be?

Peter Adamson: And you know, you sort of a picture of Washington spinning in his grave.

Chike Jeffers: Yeah. And you know, it is of course important that there are a number of ways in which there are criticisms of socialism that have been prominent. So Garvey is antagonistic towards socialism and socialists, black socialists. He thinks of black socialists as sort of being dupes of a certain kind of white leadership, just like he thinks of Du Bois, thought of not as socialist, but as part of, say, the NAACP and other people that might be termed black liberals, following Michael Dawson in that interview that we did with him. And he thinks of those black people as dupes, certain kind of white leadership as well. So Garvey, in that sense, is an important example of who we might call an anti-socialist during this period, who is very prominent. And then one thing that you might not want to call anti-socialist, but nevertheless is an important recurring theme as we've gone on, is breaks with particularly the Communist Party. So people like Wright and Ellison, who are breaking with the American Communist Party, you have, that may say they're breaking with the French Communist Party. And so, especially when thinking of socialist thought as embodied institutionally, it's extremely important that we have these cases of thinkers opposing what they have previously been attracted by. But perhaps, in order to try and think about why it is that we have come back again and again to this theme of socialism, well, I mean, of course, there are gonna be people who are listening who are gonna say, well, of course, you keep coming back to it again and again, because it's the right way to think. Right? But I mean, even the pattern of people being attracted by various communist parties or various forums for socialist thought, and then even if they back away later, there's something there that is revelatory, apparently. So you might even, in an interesting way, compare it to the way that Christianity became a sort of inescapable part of what we were talking about with the philosophical thought of thinkers in part two. As we were getting into 18th and 19th century Africana thought, it was just gonna be the case that plenty of the figures, in fact, almost all of the figures, were going to be Christians, and for many of them, that Christianity was hugely important to their way of thinking. And there is something revelatory that people find in socialism or communism or Marxism or anything that we can say that wraps up all of those types of terms together. There's something revelatory that people find. And of course, one thing you might say is that in both cases, Christianity and Marxist or other kinds of socialist thought, there's a concern with freedom. So if we are doing this podcast about Africana philosophy, and there's naturally a concern with how to get free, how to be free, what freedom looks like, what freedom means - that's naturally going to be a recurring concern for black thinkers. I think that's one of the ways to make it sort of unsurprising that in the 20th century, you get this massive turn towards the left and socialist thought.

Peter Adamson: Maybe there's also a factor, which is that they look back to the roots of the problem in slavery, and they see that slavery fundamentally was all to do with economics. So you might think it's the foundation of America's prosperity. It was a slave economic power. And therefore, there's an inextricable link between capitalist oppression of the proletariat or whoever you want to call them. So I mean, in some authors, we even had this kind of equation being drawn between the workers, the proletariat, and the slaves. But even if you don't draw the link that firmly, there is a tendency to say, well, you can't understand what was then called the Negro problem without understanding the problem with capitalism as well. So I think it's more than just that, I think it was obviously also just the case in the early 20th century, if you were interested in liberation, and somehow pulling the mask off of the status quo and saying this is unjust, right? Marxism in a way was just the available paradigm for doing that. There's a stronger link to the concerns of Marxism and socialism than just that. It's more than just like a mood. It's also that there's a genuine link between slavery and capitalism.

Chike Jeffers: And we of course even looked at a thinker, Eric Williams, who wrote a book called Capitalism and Slavery.

Peter Adamson: Absolutely. That's who I had in mind.

Chike Jeffers: So that's certainly an important point. The interesting thing is that you have ways in which it seems like Marxist thought is going to be particularly relevant because of just trying to understand how capitalism is related to such things as slavery. But of course, that concern does make us look especially at the diaspora, whether the United States or the Caribbean, which is what Williams was focused on. What we are going to see going forward - presumably it's okay during this conversation, we give listeners little bits of heads ups about what's coming - is we're going to certainly see more cases of also African leaders for whom socialism is key to their thought. We've already in fact seen it with Senghor. African socialism is an important part of his philosophy and an important part of what Negritude meant to him. So yeah, it's really something that throughout the black world during the 20th century, it is just a major aspect of what people are thinking about.

Peter Adamson: Can I pick on something else just mentioned, which is religion? Because what we just said implies that socialism replaced Christianity as a model for thinking about liberation. But on the other hand, here we are in the middle of covering Martin Luther King Jr. And I'm really struck by the fact that in the mid-century, we've got figures like Wright and also Baldwin, to some extent. Baldwin is an interesting case because he transposes a lot of religious themes into a secular way of thinking about things. But there's definitely an anti-religious current in Baldwin. And there's a very strong anti-religious current in Wright. And we've got that going on pretty much at the same time as King, who is probably the most religious figure we've covered since maybe Turner.

Chike Jeffers: Interesting. Well, yeah, because we haven't had a lot of clergymen recently. So King does sort of stand out that way. But part of why King stands out as a religious figure is that King stands out as someone who shows the potential for Christianity to play this important role in a militant version of protest and in a militant version of seeking rights. In other words, it's important that he represents a kind of rejection of versions of Christianity that would counsel patience and that would counsel virtues in ways that would accommodate the status quo. Speaking of Du Bois, one of my favorite thinkers, in The Souls of Black Folk from 1903, his chapter on the church in that context really does make it sound like the black church is central sociologically, but it is somewhat impotent politically. And there's this interesting bit at the end where he has a sort of optimistic last paragraph of that chapter. I won't try and quote it from memory, although I would recommend that let's just check it out because it says something about trying to move out of the valley of the shadow of death where liberty, justice, and whatever is marked for white people only. He has an optimistic paragraph that suggests that maybe it will change. So King, I think, ends up being this sort of embodiment of the optimistic prophecy at the end of that chapter. It is interesting though that before someone like Wright - we actually mentioned in the episode first introducing black socialism, that Hubert Harrison, who can be perhaps highlighted here as an influential figure, someone who I think that based on what we've said about the importance of socialism in the 20th century in Africana thought, and if we think about how Hubert Harrison and also A. Philip Randolph, how they are early progenitors in the teens of that century, it's sort of interesting to see them as sort of founders of a tradition who need to be better recognized for their intellectual influence in that sense. I can't remember if this goes for both of them, but we certainly mentioned that Harrison was non-religious or claimed to be an agnostic. And so, yeah, it is interesting that starting from there, we've had a set of instances where people are moving away from Christianity or questioning Christianity. There are some important cases we have where people may not be anti-religious per se, they are anti-Christianity, one of the best examples, of course, being Malcolm X. There's a questioning of Christianity and its hold on the black world that comes sometimes from socialism, it comes sometimes from other sources, as in the case of X, but that's interesting as well.

Peter Adamson: There's another subgroup of people we looked at in this period who are professional philosophers or more generally, you might want to say professional academics, because we looked at historians and sociologists as well. And I thought it was interesting to think about how they fit in, because in some ways they seem like they're often, and maybe this is what people always think about academics, we are often our own world, right? Kind of not in the same space of debate and rhetoric as these activists, who it's mostly who we've been covering and certainly mostly who we've been talking about so far in this discussion. How do you see them fitting in?

Chike Jeffers: I mean, it's interesting because if you take our episode on African-American professional philosophers, certainly we did there give instances of people who are academics in the standard sense where that's their primary activity. I think also of Oliver Cox in relation to this, so you were making the point that this is maybe true for not just the professional philosophers, but also some of the sociologists, economists and historians. I think that's true for Oliver Cox as well, that he would be an example of someone who just did his work in the academy. But having said that, I think that more often than not, figures we've looked at don't fit what you've just described. So Alain Locke, he is a figure in the academy that we've looked at. He also is so important as a cultural figure to the point of being identified with the Harlem Renaissance. I mean, you asked the question to Leonard Harris, I mean, what about this sense that some people have that we should credit him with inventing the Harlem Renaissance, to which Leonard gave a very nuanced answer, part of which was yes. So in that sense, the most important academic philosopher we've looked at cannot be seen as somehow secluded within the academy and not having wider cultural influence. And I think that that pattern holds for a number of other figures. I mean, Du Bois himself is an academic, but of course, we see him leave his position at Atlanta University and start working with the NAACP after he helps to found it. There's no sense in which Du Bois can be seen as secluded within the academy. Someone who you might say is a bit more academic-y than him would be Carter G. Woodson. But I don't think that we can call the person who invented Black History Month someone whose work is just within the academy and doesn't have a wider influence. I mean, you know, so...

Peter Adamson: Yeah, and he also put out these sort of pamphlets to teach people about Black History, and those were certainly not aimed at other academics. I mean, they were even aimed at children.

Chike Jeffers: Right. And I mean, even in the episode on Cox, we also looked at Williams, who gives up the academy in order to be the first leader of independent Trinidad and Tobago. So yeah, I think that we... Probably part of what you were noticing is that we didn't really have many people who could be counted as academics in part two, right? So Amo sticks out, right? But who else had university jobs, right? There's not that many in part two, right? There's many in part three who had jobs within the academy at various times, perhaps not for all of their career. So I think you may be sort of noticing that. But as I said, I actually think that in terms of the figures we're covering, part of what made them have such a big impact is that they couldn't be just constrained within that academic role.

Peter Adamson: Yeah. And that will continue in part four and the final part, because we're certainly gonna look at several professional philosophers in that part. You just mentioned Trinidad and Tobago. And I wanna recall something that happened when we were first planning this. So when we were talking about what music to use for part three, you said, let's use this jazz standard called St. Thomas, because it's a reference to Caribbean. And I said, 'but Chike, I mean, are we gonna be really looking at that many thinkers who are from the Caribbean? I mean, come on, right? Won't they all be from either the United States or Africa?' And you were like, 'oh, Peter.' And that just shows how little I understood about what we were about to be covering, because it almost feels like the majority of the figures we covered were from the Caribbean. And I mean, so first, I just wanna say you were definitely right. But also, I wanted to ask whether we could dwell on that for a moment, because it seems like the Caribbean's almost like the glue that holds together Africana thought in this period. So you have the connection between the Harlem Renaissance and Negritude. You have Negritude itself as something that bridges the gap between the Caribbean and Europe, because of course, they go to France, they're in Paris. And you also have Caribbean figures moving back and forth between their home and Africa itself. We're gonna see that again with Frantz Fanon pretty soon. And so it really seems like you'd almost take the role of these Caribbean thinkers as the ultimate proof that it makes sense to use the concept of Africana philosophy.

Chike Jeffers: I think that's right. Now, we acknowledged my bias with respect to Du Bois. I go ahead and acknowledge bias here again. I mean, I remember that we told listeners I'm from Toronto before, but like many of the black people in Toronto, I'm of Caribbean descent. I mean, I will say we haven't yet looked at any figure from the two places that my parents are from. My father's from Dominica, not the Dominican Republic, but a different island. And my mother's from Guyana, which is not geographically part of the Caribbean, but which is importantly, politically and culturally, part of the Caribbean. I don't remember whether we've looked at a Guyanese thinker yet. We certainly will. Walter Rodney is going to come up in the episodes that we'll be doing that are yet to come. So there'll be places, there'll be people who are associated with, I guess, my origin in that sense.

Peter Adamson: I feel like I had to practice saying Guyana at some point. So I think we must have...

Chike Jeffers: Indeed. And I think that to do this quick little tangent, I think you made me realize how confusing the pronunciation of Caribbean place names are. For example, there's a thing that happened where a number of these places were named, I guess, by the Spanish, but then they became British territories. And so you have places like Antigua and Grenada that I have to make sure you know are not Antigua or Granada. And there's other, I think, instances like that. So I never realized how confusing it can be simply because I take it for granted as someone who is of Caribbean parentage and grew up in a city where the majority of the black population was of Caribbean background. So all of that to say, I mean, yes, there's, I guess, potentially some bias there with me as well. But I think you've said enough to show that in researching all the figures that we're looking at, it's just clear that many of the people that we're looking at who are from the Caribbean really were that significant. I think that you raise an interesting question and are going in the right direction when you talk about how the Caribbean as a space, yeah, somehow does sort of hold things together. I mean, there's a lot of migration that used to happen and maybe to some extent still does or not to some extent. There's a lot of migration that used to happen and still does to a certain extent within the Caribbean. But then you also definitely have the importance of people going to the places that colonized, the places that they were from. So people going to Britain or France based on being from islands colonized by Britain or France, and you have the importance of the US as a place to immigrate. And so as a result, you have thinkers who are doing important work within the Caribbean. But actually, if we do the count that you sort of suggested we can do and we see how Caribbean thinkers potentially are a majority, I don't know if they really are, we'd have to really do the count. But it's not crazy to think they could end up a majority of who we've covered. But so many of them, they had impact by being in these other places like New York City, like London, like Paris. So there is a mobility, to use a term that you and Mina mentioned in the interview on King. There's a certain mobility that happens, that places people from the Caribbean in different locations and allows them to have this sort of outsized influence, especially it feels outsized, especially when you look at how small some of these islands are. But I do love the fact that we had like a whole big chunk. I mean, I loved our joke where we said, we'll stop looking at these Trinidadian men who were somehow associated with the left and for a change, we'll look at a Trinidadian woman associated with the left in the form of Claudia Jones. And I should admit that even though my father is from Dominica, as an example of the movement that used to happen within the Caribbean, my grandfather, that is his father, was a Trinidadian. So maybe it really does come down to bias.

Peter Adamson: I mean, Jones is a perfect example, right? Because she goes to London and she's from Trinidad, but she goes to the United States and then winds up in London and actually sets up the festival there in honor of Caribbean movement.

Chike Jeffers: Yeah. In fact, the other thing to say about Jones, as an example, I remember when we were talking about part two, we talked about how there's involuntary and voluntary movement. And in fact, the Caribbean was at issue there as well. So Cugoano is involuntarily moved from what is now Ghana to Grenada and to certain other Caribbean islands and ends up in Britain. And only there is at that point, sort of, in charge of his own movements, right? Whereas Blyden, who's from the Caribbean, right? He's from St. Thomas - the island after which that song is named. Yeah. And then there's Blyden who voluntarily moves to the United States and then moves to West Africa, right? And it's interesting that we have voluntary and involuntary movement in the 20th century as well, not because of enslavement, but because of deportation. And so both James and Jones end up moving around partly because it's the Red Scare, they are in the United States. I mean, in the case of Jones, part of what is even more tragic about it is the fact that she had lived in the United States from childhood, but she wasn't a citizen, she was deported. But that involuntary movement, as we noted, ends up giving us a new dimension of our thought philosophically and also the Notting Hill Carnival, which is a fun thing that I would like to go to sometime. And importantly, we made the point that for her, that cultural and in some sense, fun thing isn't totally disconnected from her views on politics because it's precisely the emergence of Caribbean people as a force within the British context. And as a unique civilization, since I think it's the way that James sometimes frames it, or at least as a unique aspect of Western civilization, because James thinks of Caribbean people as importantly Western and that being part of why they have the significance they do. Right? Jones also frames her work on the carnival as somehow related to displaying that unique contribution. And it's interesting, not to get too tangential, but it's interesting that James has that emphasis on the Westernness of the Caribbean, and we've seen it in Wright and Ellison, this emphasis on, oh, sorry, Wright, Ellison, and Baldwin. Actually, maybe Ellison and Baldwin, even more than Wright, actually, I might want to say. This emphasis on the Americanness of the African American. We saw Baldwin saying that there's something actually particularly Western about the African American, which he thinks... It's interesting that they're making similar points to James, but it's not even clear how compatible the points would be. Because it's as if... This is a bit of a caricature, but it's as if James is like, 'we're the most Western!' and it's as if Ellison and Baldwin are like, 'we're the most Western!' But for each of them, that somehow really matters to understanding what Black people have the capacity to change about the way people think about Western civilization, if people would start to listen to Black voices and their philosophical contributions.

Peter Adamson: Yeah, that's really, I think, core to the whole concept of diasporic African philosophy. Though you really see it in Baldwin when he's confronted by Negritude, and also when he meets African leaders. And he says, well, there's this unique point of view that you get when you're an African American, because people from Africa just haven't been forced to grow up in and confront the racial tensions between European civilization, for lack of a better term, and having these roots in Africa. So for him, it's like the dialectical situation, and they can only see one side of it, or maybe not even either side of it. So I agree, there's a lot of people from the United States saying, 'well, we have the privileged point of view,' people from the Caribbean saying the same thing. And of course, as we're going to increasingly see this idea that it's really the decolonization movement in Africa that will lead the way for the whole global problem of oppression, not even just among black people, but they start attaching what they're doing to the liberation struggles in Asia, and so on. The Vietnam War, for example, gets dragged into it.

Chike Jeffers: And I actually take Baldwin's critical stance on Negritude as an interesting example of the unity of our series. I want to make this point, because it seems perhaps easier to make this point by saying, oh, look, here are the thinkers that they're in all these different places. So yes, Africana philosophy is not just about African-American or African or Caribbean or Latin American thought, it's the whole shebang. One of the ways that we can make the point is through seeing the movement of people like James and Jones. But Baldwin going to France, and Baldwin reflecting on what he shares with Africans when he thinks he's at the Congress of Black Writers and Artists, which is bringing together people from all these different places, including his own home - because Wright is there as well, and other African-American thinkers. I think it's almost stronger to make the point about Africana philosophy as a unified and coherent thought space, we might say, when you notice someone like Baldwin reflecting on what he shares with Africans. Because yeah, the oneness of Africans and the peoples of the diaspora: it is in some sense an open and philosophical question. What would it mean really to recognize oneness here? And when you see Baldwin rejecting the oneness, in some of the ways that he does, to me, it does nothing to detract from the idea that Africana philosophy is a unity. Rather it shows that this is a question for Baldwin in a way that it doesn't need to be a question... Its significance for some of his white American writer counterparts who he respected and who he had various interesting exchanges with. They don't need to think about the oneness of Africans and the peoples of the diaspora in the way that it is a question that compelled him to think and to write. So even when you see someone rejecting that oneness and in that sense maybe going in the opposite direction of Pan-Africanism, then the sense in which we're covering the unified body of thought, I think, is in its own way exemplified by the example of Baldwin's critical stance on Negritude.

Peter Adamson: That's actually would almost be a good place to end. But there's one other thing I wanted to get into before we stop, which is sort of the complement of where we started. We started out by talking about the transition from 19th to 20th century. Maybe we could also think about the transition from early 20th century to mid 20th century. Because again, I think this is something that really surprised me because I guess when you grow up in the United States, you know about Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. and so on, the civil rights movement.

Chike Jeffers: Yeah. It's hard not to have not heard the names.

Peter Adamson: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And you've seen movies, whatever, right? But you don't have any sense of where that came from, really. And I was really struck by the fact that they're still using the phrase, "the new Negro." You have Garvey explicitly coming up. So for example, we saw that Malcolm X has this complicated relationship to Garvey where his father and his mother are Garveyites. And then he kind of pretends that he didn't think about Garvey at all for 20 years or something. And then he's like, oh, no, actually, I'm the country's leading Garveyite. It's just that I kind of forgot. So that's kind of implausible, I thought, a feature of his autobiography. It comes up in Invisible Man, the influence...

Chike Jeffers: Ras The Exhorter.

Peter Adamson: Exactly, the sort of fictionalized version of Garvey. So I got the impression that was sort of like what you were saying about Frederick Douglas: how he's this continuing looming presence that everyone has to deal with and maybe claim, or disown in the case of Garvey. I guess no one's disowning Douglas, but people are definitely disowning Garvey.

Chike Jeffers: That's true. I mean, he was contentious during his lifetime and he was contentious afterwards. And I think that's important.

Peter Adamson: Even amongst his wives.

Chike Jeffers: Exactly. No, I love that. Absolutely. I think it's so important that we did the episode on the two Amys and gave them their due as thinkers while at the same time, as I recall, you really felt like there's a movie waiting to be made here.

Peter Adamson: Definitely. Actually, that's also one of my strongest memories from doing research for the podcast because usually, of course, we're reading books and journal articles and so on. But in that case, I actually looked at a lot of scanned images of the newspaper, the UNIA newspaper, Negro World, because that's where Amy J. Garvey's columns were published. And it was amazing to see them in their original context, literally next to ads for hair products and recipes for casseroles and stuff because it's on the women's page. And I just thought that was amazing to really see how these things were presented to their original readers, which is something we don't usually get to do.

Chike Jeffers: Yeah. And if I could reflect on it a bit more, I mean, one of the ways that we put it when we were talking about Garvey, and we in fact made the contrast explicit with Du Bois, that is we noted that by now, people who are interested in philosophy are starting to hear about Du Bois. It's starting to become harder to just be completely ignorant of his existence, which was the case for a lot of academic philosophers in the past, but that's becoming harder. Du Bois is becoming accepted more and more as an important philosophical figure. So we sort of made the explicit contrast that that's not the case as of now or as of yet with Garvey. I mean, actually, William Parris, who is a philosopher at the University of Toronto in my hometown, he's actually been doing some work on Garvey. So I don't want to say that there's no one in philosophy who's been doing work on Garvey, but it's been less common. And to again, bring up my bias, I don't think we're going to come to some stage where Garvey gets the amount of attention from philosophers that Du Bois does. My own father would identify to a large extent as a Garveyite, and so I don't want to step on toes here. But I do think that's probably because Du Bois is philosophically richer. I mean, it's hard for anyone to compare to Du Bois, partly just because of the amount he wrote. But I mean, it's possible to write a lot without writing stuff in philosophical significance. So Du Bois is a masterful philosophical mind, and he is starting to get the attention he deserves. And I think his ideas are going to continue to push that. I do not put Garvey on the same level as a thinker. I'm sorry to anyone who that offends who's listening. But what I think we did emphasize, and what I do think is important, is that Garvey had such an impact, reached so many, and compelled so many, that he, as we put it, reorganized Africana thought in certain ways revolved around him, whether it was people joining him or whether it was people opposing him. And so he became a flashpoint, we might say, in that sense. And so he becomes a figure that you have to sort of treat as central if you're going to take seriously Africana thought as having philosophical dimensions, because he himself had things to say about why people should follow him - not just because, but rather as a way of opening their eyes to the inner strength of Black people, to the value of black people. There's a message that is coming from Garvey that says: You are valuable. You don't need white people to acknowledge you in order for that value to be recognized. You have to acknowledge that value in yourself. And we have to, for ourselves, build up a world that we want to see. And again, as we noted in the episode, that's probably part of the inspiration that Garvey took from Washington. Washington encouraged black self-reliance - Garvey encourages black self-reliance, but also with a militancy that we don't find in Washington. So Washington's accommodationism drops out. We get the black self-reliance from Washington combined with a militancy and a demand for respect that is a powerful message that naturally, for that reason, attracted some. And then in various ways, those who opposed him, including Du Bois. I mean, Du Bois absolutely wants black people to respect themselves, and Du Bois wants black people to value themselves, and Du Bois wants black people to do things that would help them progress. But Garvey's version of that message becomes something that Du Bois has to respond to. He ignores them for as long as he can, and eventually he has to respond to him. And by the end of part... Sorry, not the end of part three, but by the most recent episodes we've done, we see Malcolm doing it again. And he's doing it differently. I mean, yes, he's got the Garvey appearance, but it is super important. His allegiance to the nation of Islam, the anti-Christianity aspect, which is different from Garvey, that was definitely not Garvey's thing. There's important differences between Malcolm and Garvey, but we see him sort of doing it again with such rhetorical power. I love the line that we have in there about what 'a dog who attacks you deserves, and what a dog on two legs that sicks a dog on you deserves,' right? So you have just moments of rhetorical brilliance like that, where, again, it's just natural that you're going to have tons of black people who are going to be attracted by this powerful message of valuing yourself and doing for yourself. So we then, again, have to sort of put that into conversation with what we're getting from King, with the kinds of ways that King and also Baldwin in interesting ways are asking us to both feel this anger, this righteous indignation, and yet also feel this love. You have these interesting different approaches, but Garvey is central because he's just one of the most powerful encapsulations of this idea of Black self-respect. And so to a certain extent, the question of how to respect yourself, and the question of how to attain dignity, has been arguably the central theme of the podcast since part two. We in fact highlighted that when we were discussing part two, because we talked about how the immigration debate is partly about how do we have self-respect and dignity. So that I think is just one of the themes that is naturally coming up again and is powerfully put forward by Garvey in a way that helps to make him the big figure that he was. 


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