Episode 15

Dr. Russell Rickford

On this episode of Contemporary Black Canvas, I had the pleasure of interviewing historian Russell Rickford about his most recent book, We Are An African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and The Radical Imagination. Dr. Rickford is an Associate Professor of history at Cornell University. In we are an African People, he traces the development of Black Nationalist schools across the country in the 1960s and 1970s. He contextualizes this movement within a larger history of the period and within the impulse towards Black Nationalist thought in the African American tradition. More specifically, he discusses how these schools, despite their differing political ideologies, shared a commitment to cultivating Black awareness, reviving Pan-Africanism, and thinking about political and cultural connections across the diaspora and with Africa. He discusses the political evolution of these schools. Join us to hear Dr. Rickford discuss his early days as a cub reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, his work with the late Dr. Manning Marable’s Malcolm X project, and how his interest in Black Nationalism led to two of his books, a biography Betty Shabazz, Betty Shabazz: A Life Before and After Malcolm X  and more recently his scholarly work We Are An African People published by Oxford University Press this past spring. He is also the co-author, with his father, Dr. John Russell Rickford, of Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English, and the winner of an American Book Award. You can find Dr. Russell Rickford’s books at your local independent bookstore. You can find Dr. Rickford blogging on the African American Intellectual History Society at AAIHS.org.


And, before we get to the interview, for our listeners in the Philadelphia area and beyond, we want to encourage all of our listeners to attend BlackStar Film Festival this August. The sixth annual BlackStar Film Festival, held in Philadelphia August 3rd to 6th, 2017 showcases black filmmaking from around the world with more than 60 works screened. The theme of this year’s Festival is “resistance,” and BlackStar will be honoring Ava DuVernay at its annual Awards Ceremony, headlined by Pharoahe Monch at World Cafe Live on August 5th at 7:30 pm. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit blackstarfest.org.    


For Your Easy Reference:


We Are An African People

How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America

Manning Marable

The Malcolm X Project

The Martin Luther King Papers Project

Betty Shabbazz by Russell Rickford

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Black Power

Stokely Carmichael  

Frantz Fanon

Freedom Library Day School

Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English