Aoki Center and UC Davis History Dept. Free People of Color Seminar Series: Dr. Yatta Kiazolu
Civil Rights, Internationalism, and African American Women's Fight for Full Citizenship, 1960
By 1960, African decolonization on the world stage presented greater opportunity to actualize new political terrain in the interest of people of African descent. African American leaders made connections between the struggles for desegregation at home and decolonization abroad. Committed to this cause, the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) under the tenure of then-president Dorothy Height, emphasized travel to Africa for both its leaders and members, many of whom were traveling for the first time. This included Height’s tour of five West African countries, along with Jeanne Noble and Dorothy Ferebee’s participation in the inaugural Conference of Women of Africa and African Descent held in Accra, Ghana in July of 1960. Through solidarity with African women nationalists preparing for new roles in emerging societies, this research demonstrates how their on-the-ground interactions helped Council women advance their case for Black women’s inclusion in public life at home, and more broadly, for full citizenship. These experiences offer an entry point into Black women’s global struggle for self-emancipation in the age of decolonization, civil, and human rights.
Yatta Kiazolu is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego with research interests at the intersection of Contemporary African diaspora history, African American history, and Women and Gender studies. She received her Ph.D. in History from UCLA in 2020. In addition to research, she is committed to community engagement and social justice advocacy as an active member in grassroots immigrant rights organizations, contributing editorials uplifting Black immigrant experiences in national platforms and blogs including The Washington Post and other outlets.
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