Frantz Fanon was born July 20, 1925 on the French Caribbean island of Martinique. He studied medicine in France, specializing in psychiatry. Sent to a hospital in Algeria where he worked from 1953 and 1956. There he found his sympathies turning toward the Algerian Nationalist Movement, which he later joined. He is considered one of the most important intellectuals of the African struggle for independence and of the psychology of race.
He passionately identified with Algeria’s armed struggle for independence and this led him to write The Wretched of the Earth (1961). The Wretched of the Earth is considered by many to be one of the canonical books on the worldwide black liberation struggles of the 1960s. Within a Marxist framework, using a cutting and nonsentimental writing style, Fanon draws upon his horrific experiences working in Algeria during its war of independence against France. He addresses the role of violence in decolonization and the challenges of political organization and the class collisions and questions of cultural hegemony in the creation and maintenance of a new country’s national consciousness. As Fanon eloquently writes,
“[T]he unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps.”
The Wretched of the Earth became a manifesto for the Third World. Black Skin, White Masks was first published in France in 1952. He died from leukemia on December 6, 1961, at the age of 36, in Bethesda, Maryland.