4 Books Published by University of Pennsylvania Press on Our Site — Book Cover Mosaic

Click for more detail about I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land by Alaina E. Roberts I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land

by Alaina E. Roberts
University of Pennsylvania Press (Apr 05, 2021)
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Perhaps no other symbol has more resonance in African American history than that of 40 acres and a mule—the lost promise of Black reparations for slavery after the Civil War. In I’ve Been Here All the While, we meet the Black people who actually received this mythic 40 acres, the American settlers who coveted this land, and the Native Americans whose holdings it originated from.

In nineteenth-century Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), a story unfolds that ties African American and Native American history tightly together, revealing a western theatre of Civil War and Reconstruction, in which Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, their Black slaves, and African Americans and whites from the eastern United States fought military and rhetorical battles to lay claim to land that had been taken from others.

Through chapters that chart cycles of dispossession, land seizure, and settlement in Indian Territory, Alaina E. Roberts draws on archival research and family history to upend the traditional story of Reconstruction. She connects debates about Black freedom and Native American citizenship to westward expansion onto Native land. As Black, white, and Native people constructed ideas of race, belonging, and national identity, this part of the West became, for a short time, the last place where Black people could escape Jim Crow, finding land and exercising political rights, until Oklahoma statehood in 1907.


Click for more detail about Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom by Keisha N. Blain Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom

by Keisha N. Blain
University of Pennsylvania Press (Feb 16, 2018)
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In 1932, Mittie Maude Lena Gordon spoke to a crowd of black Chicagoans at the old Jack Johnson boxing ring, rallying their support for emigration to West Africa. In 1937, Celia Jane Allen traveled to Jim Crow Mississippi to organize rural black workers around black nationalist causes. In the late 1940s, from her home in Kingston, Jamaica, Amy Jacques Garvey launched an extensive letter-writing campaign to defend the Greater Liberia Bill, which would relocate 13 million black Americans to West Africa.

Gordon, Allen, and Jacques Garvey—as well as Maymie De Mena, Ethel Collins, Amy Ashwood, and Ethel Waddell—are part of an overlooked and understudied group of black women who take center stage in Set the World on Fire, the first book to examine how black nationalist women engaged in national and global politics from the early twentieth century to the 1960s. Historians of the era generally portray the period between the Garvey movement of the 1920s and the Black Power movement of the 1960s as one of declining black nationalist activism, but Keisha N. Blain reframes the Great Depression, World War II, and the early Cold War as significant eras of black nationalist—and particularly, black nationalist women’s—ferment.

In Chicago, Harlem, and the Mississippi Delta, from Britain to Jamaica, these women built alliances with people of color around the globe, agitating for the rights and liberation of black people in the United States and across the African diaspora. As pragmatic activists, they employed multiple protest strategies and tactics, combined numerous religious and political ideologies, and forged unlikely alliances in their struggles for freedom. Drawing on a variety of previously untapped sources, including newspapers, government records, songs, and poetry, Set the World on Fire highlights the flexibility, adaptability, and experimentation of black women leaders who demanded equal recognition and participation in global civil society.


Click for more detail about Against The Wall: Poor, Young, Black, And Male (The City In The Twenty-First Century) by Elijah Anderson Against The Wall: Poor, Young, Black, And Male (The City In The Twenty-First Century)

by Elijah Anderson
University of Pennsylvania Press (Apr 10, 2009)
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Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic TitleTypically residing in areas of concentrated urban poverty, too many young black men are trapped in a horrific cycle that includes active discrimination, unemployment, violence, crime, prison, and early death. This toxic mixture has given rise to wider stereotypes that limit the social capital of all young black males.Edited and with an introductory chapter by sociologist Elijah Anderson, the essays in Against the Wall describe how the young black man has come to be identified publicly with crime and violence. In reaction to his sense of rejection, he may place an exaggerated emphasis on the integrity of his self-expression in clothing and demeanor by adopting the fashions of the "street." To those deeply invested in and associated with the dominant culture, his attitude is perceived as profoundly oppositional. His presence in public gathering places becomes disturbing to others, and the stereotype of the dangerous young black male is perpetuated and strengthened.To understand the origin of the problem and the prospects of the black inner-city male, it is essential to distinguish his experience from that of his pre-Civil Rights Movement forebears. In the 1950s, as militant black people increasingly emerged to challenge the system, the figure of the black male became more ambiguous and fearsome. And while this activism did have the positive effect of creating opportunities for the black middle class who fled from the ghettos, those who remained faced an increasingly desperate climate.Featuring a foreword by Cornel West and sixteen original essays by contributors including William Julius Wilson, Gerald D. Jaynes, Douglas S. Massey, and Peter Edelman, Against the Wall illustrates how social distance increases as alienation and marginalization within the black male underclass persist, thereby deepening the country’s racial divide.


Click for more detail about Supreme Justice: Speeches and Writings: Thurgood Marshall by Thurgood Marshall Supreme Justice: Speeches and Writings: Thurgood Marshall

by Thurgood Marshall
University of Pennsylvania Press (Dec 31, 2002)
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To understand fully the complexities of Thurgood Marshall’s work as a practicing lawyer, civil rights advocate for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, federal judge, and the first African American appointed Solicitor General of the United States and Justice of the United States Supreme Court, these texts are indispensable.

The early speeches assembled by J. Clay Smith, Jr., focus on the Detroit riots of the 1940s and 1950s, one of the most important periods of Marshall’s life, culminating in his arguments before the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education and Bolling v. Sharpe, which in 1954 struck down de jure segregation in public education. Throughout the materials from the next four decades, Marshall comes to life as a teacher, leader, and strategist, explaining, preaching, and cajoling audiences to stand up for their rights. The addresses collected by Smith present a less formal picture of Marshall, from which one can learn much about the depth of his skills and strategies to conquer racism, promote democracy, and create a world influenced by his vision for a just and moral society.

Supreme Justice reveals Marshall as a dogged opponent of unequal schools and a staunch proponent of the protection of black people from violence and the death penalty. Through his own words we see the genius of a man with an ability to inspire diverse crowds in clear language and see him also demonstrate his powers of persuasion in formal settings outside the court. His writings not only enhance our understanding of his groundbreaking advocacy in law and social conflicts, they reveal the names of men and women of all races who made significant contributions leading to Brown v. Board of Education and beyond.

About The Editor: J. Clay Smith, Jr. (1942-2018) was Professor of Law at Howard University and author of Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer, 1844-1944, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.



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