Today in Black History: February 19 First Pan-African 1919. In the nearly half century between 1900 and 1945 various political leaders and intellectuals from Europe, North America, and Africa met six times to discuss colonial control of Africa and develop strategies for eventual African political liberation. Pan-Africanist ideals emerged in the late nineteenth century in response to European colonization and exploitation of the African continent.
Pan-Africanist philosophy held that slavery and colonialism depended on and encouraged negative, unfounded categorizations of the race, culture, and values of African people. These destructive beliefs in turn gave birth to intensified forms of racism, the likes of which Pan-Africanism sought to eliminate. The initial meeting featured thirty delegates, mainly from England and the West Indies, but attracted only a few Africans and African Americans.
Among them was black America’s leading intellectual, W.E.B. DuBois, who was to become the torchbearer of subsequent Pan-African conferences, or congresses as they later came to be called. Conference participants read papers on a variety of topics, including the social, political, and economic conditions of blacks in the Diaspora; the importance of independent nations governed by people of African descent, such as Ethiopia, Haiti, and Liberia; the legacy of slavery and European imperialism; the role of Africa in world history; and the impact of Christianity on the African continent.
Perhaps of even greater significance was the formation of two committees. One group, chaired by DuBois, drafted an address “To the Nations of the World,” demanding moderate reforms for colonial Africa. http://ow.ly/i/CXrhP