Conflict Over Africa: Paul Robeson and W.E.B. Du Bois Versus The United States Government, 1945-1958
Louis Eugene Jones
Robert L. Harris, Jr.
Thesis DT 3.5 1985 J77
v, 148 leaves; 28 cm.
African liberation became a sought after objective in the immediate post-World War II era. Stimulated by the events emerging within the war, African leaders, their organizations, and large segments of Africa's population demanded a say in the affairs of their own governments. They demanded political independence and an opportunity to create economic institutions that would serve their interests.
Of the African- American leaders who answered Africa's call, Paul Robeson and W.E. B. Du Bois stand apart from the rest. While other African American leaders decided that they would concern themselves with the plight of African-Americans in isolation from the oppressed in other nations, Robeson and Du Bois were determined to speak to the issues of the oppressed people throughout the world. Of the many causes that they supported, African liberation was one of the more important. It is not at all surprising that Robeson fought for Africa's freedom in the immediate post-war years. By the time of the post-war era and in the years prior to it, Robeson was beginning to think of himself as an African and like many Africans, he became deeply committed to the concept of protecting his spiritual homeland from its exploiters while strengthening those foundations created in earlier times. Du Bois' affiliation with the Pan-African movement, his contribution to enlightened literature on Africa, coupled with his resolute convictions, prompted the delegates of the Fifth Pan-African Congress of 1945 to bestow on him a worth and deserving title- the Father of Pan-Africanism. The world's progressive elements continued to think of him in a similar vein. During the post-war era and among African-Americans, Du Bois' commitment to Africa's freedom was matched only by Robeson.
Forces within the United States Government did not think of and act toward Africa in the same manner in which Robeson and Du Bois did. Not only did the United States begin to exploit Africa for its cheap labor and raw materials, but it also supported Western Europe in its efforts to do likewise. Moreover, and of particular importance, the United States Government began to treat Africa as a pawn in its Cold War contest with the Soviet Union. Consequently, the United States became more concerned with restricting the Soviet Union's influence in Africa than with the plight of African people and their continent.
The United States Government's interests in Africa partially compelled it to attack both Paul Robeson and W.E.B. Du Bois. Since Robeson and Du Bois had a noticeable amount of prominence in the African-American community and throughout the Black world, the United States Government feared that what they stood for might jeopardize its interests, especially in Africa. In reaching my conclusions, I analyzed (1) the United States Government's attitude and activities toward Africa, (2) Robeson's and Du Bois' attitude and activities toward Africa, and (3) the manner in which the United States Government attacked them, paying special attention to those reasons directly related to the United States Government's differing position on African liberation.