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Set the World on Fire


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Women Pioneers in the Garvey Movement
Chapter 2. The Struggle for Black Emigration
Chapter 3. Organizing in the Jim Crow South
Chapter 4. Dreaming of Liberia
Chapter 5. Pan-Africanism and Anticolonial Politics
Chapter 6. Breaks, Transitions, and Continuities


About the Author

Keisha N. Blain is Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh.


"Keisha Blain has dug deeply into twentieth-century history to reveal the personal and political lives of African diaspora women determined to Set the World on Fire as they walked a fine line between leading and adhering to the black nationalist dictate of masculine leadership. Drawing upon a range of materials, including FBI files, personal letters, newspapers, and federal census records, Blain details every step of these women's organizing efforts and their pan-African visions."-Ula Taylor, author of The Promise of Patriarchy: Women and the Nation of Islam

"Blain illuminates an oft-ignored period of black nationalist and internationalist activism in the U.S.: the Great Depression, World War II, and early Cold War. Her engrossing study shows that much of this activism was led by African-American and Afro-Caribbean women. . . . Adding essential chapters to the story of this movement, Blain expands current understanding of the central roles played by female activists at home and overseas."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"In a remarkable act of historical recovery, Blain expertly traces the vital role women played in shaping black nationalist politics between the 1920s and 1960s. . . . Essential reading to anyone wanting to better understand the history of race, empire, and imperialism in the twentieth century. Perhaps most important though, Blain provides us with a timely reminder of the militancy and tenacity of the women who were at the heart of black nationalist politics. . . . These women created the ideological and practical tools for future generations of activists to take up the global struggle against white supremacy."H-Diplo

"Set the World on Fire is history at its very best. Keisha Blain has given us an unobstructed window into the minds of black nationalist women. Sharp voices and gripping stories reveal a philosophical flexibility paired with an inflexible challenge to global white supremacy."-Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning

"Set the World on Fire shows us what is hidden in plain sight. More importantly, she lays bare the foundational elements of black nationalist thought and practice. In short, women were not simply helpmates to men, but the creators and constructors of the intellectual, ideological, and organizational underpinnings of the black nationalist project in the 20th century."-Public Books

Selected as one of the "Best Books from 2018 for Every Kind of Reader" by BuzzFeed News

Selected as one of the best history books of 2018 by Smithsonian Magazine.

"Set the World on Fire illuminates a dark though important area of history. Deftly written, it is also a signal contribution to African American studies and women's studies. It shines brightening light on a previously-and scandalously-neglected topic."-Gerald Horne, author of Facing the Rising Sun: African Americans, Japan, and the Rise of Afro-Asian Solidarity

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