The Making of African America by Ira Berlin
The Four Great Migrations

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Synopsis

A leading historian offers a sweeping new account of the African American experience over four centuries

Four great migrations defined the history of black people in America: the violent removal of Africans to the east coast of North America known as the Middle Passage; the relocation of one million slaves to the interior of the antebellum South; the movement of more than six million blacks to the industrial cities of the north and west a century later; and since the late 1960s, the arrival of black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and Europe. These epic migra­tions have made and remade African American life.

Ira Berlin's magisterial new account of these passages evokes both the terrible price and the moving triumphs of a people forcibly and then willingly migrating to America. In effect, Berlin rewrites the master narrative of African America, challenging the traditional presentation of a linear path of progress. He finds instead a dynamic of change in which eras of deep rootedness alternate with eras of massive move­ment, tradition giving way to innovation. The culture of black America is constantly evolving, affected by (and affecting) places as far away from one another as Biloxi, Chicago, Kingston, and Lagos. Certain to gar­ner widespread media attention, The Making of African America is a bold new account of a long and crucial chapter of American history.
 

About Ira Berlin

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Ira Berlin is Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park.
 
Published December 22, 2009 by Penguin Books. 320 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Making of African America

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For example, after blacks became a key part of urban society, the stability of staying in one place allowed distinct aspects of modern American black culture to emerge—including arts such as gospel and jazz and political movements such as black nationalism.

Nov 01 2009 | Read Full Review of The Making of African America...

The New York Times

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It’s time, he says, to reconceptualize the entire African-American experience from the 1600s to the present — to set aside the long dominant “slavery to freedom” narrative, the story of a people moving slowly but inexorably toward equality, and to put in its place what Berlin calls a “contrapunta...

Mar 18 2010 | Read Full Review of The Making of African America...

Bookmarks Magazine

These epic migra­tions have made and remade African American life.

Ira Berlin's magisterial new account of these passages evokes both the terrible price and the moving triumphs of a people forcibly and then willingly migrating to America.

Feb 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The Making of African America...

The Root

Since 1965, the number of black immigrants has become so large—greater even than the total number of Africans forcibly imported during the slave trade—that they account for one-quarter of the growth in the African-American population.

Mar 15 2010 | Read Full Review of The Making of African America...

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