Robyn C. Spencer F'18
Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars 2018
City University of New York, Lehman College
To Build the World Anew: Black Liberation Politics and the Movement against the Vietnam War, 1950-1975
“To Build the World Anew” explores how and why the struggle for Vietnamese independence became a rallying point for grassroots Black activists based in the United States who were part of the freedom struggles of the 1950s-1970s. Despite the constrictions of Cold War anti-communism, anti-imperialism took root in radical Black activist networks as a distinct strand of Black internationalism and the draft centered Vietnam as a site of resistance. Black antiwar activists created dozens of vibrant organizations that critiqued the war in print culture and music, and formed alliances with activists in Cuba, Sweden, and North Vietnam. The organizations they created had a pivotal impact on the larger antiwar movement and influenced activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Their activism highlights the permeability of borders between the various social movements of this period and reshapes the history of the Black freedom struggle.