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We Are an African PeopleIndependent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination$
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Russell Rickford

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199861477

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199861477.001.0001

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Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination

(p.1) Introduction
We Are an African People

Russell Rickford

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines the history of the quest for Pan African nationalist schools, a submovement of the Black Power era. It argues that the schools, known as “independent black institutions,” represented key programmatic expressions of Black Power. The growth of the schools signaled a shift from the pursuit of reform within a liberal democracy to the attempt to build the infrastructure for an independent black nation. The institutions exemplified the effort to fashion a new peoplehood through a transformation of consciousness. Examining the struggle for Pan African nationalist schools contributes to a rethinking of the 1970s as a moment of political experimentation rather than a period of demobilization. The institutions highlight the everyday practices of Black Power, as well as the movement’s devotion to internationalism and community organizing. The transformation of Black Power educational models in the postsegregation era offers new insights into the remaking of modern African-American identity.

Keywords:   Council of Independent Black Institutions, CIBI, independent black institutions, community schools, alternative schools, free schools, liberated zones, dual power, 1970s, Julius Nyerere

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