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Summer 2023 articles

“Rien pour la révolution, tout par l’éducation”: The Talented Tenth at the Second Pan-African Congress

Emanuele Nidi

Abstract

The Second Pan-African Congress of 1921 was an international meeting organized around three sessions in three different European capitals (London, Brussels, and Paris). Notwithstanding its moderate program, colonial powers regarded it as an offshoot of Bolshevik and Garveyite propaganda. These allegations sparked a fierce internal debate between the French Pan-African leader Blaise Diagne and the US delegation, the former accusing the latter of being too critical of colonialism. However, the US delegates were mainly members of the Black bourgeoisie, hardly accountable for the radicalism denounced during the Congress sessions. They exemplified a depiction of the intellectual elite described by their leader, W.E.B. Du Bois, in his influential writings on the “Talented Tenth.” Based on an analysis of the US delegation, this article examines the characteristics of early Pan-Africanism and the ambiguous relationship between the Pan-African Congress and the European colonial powers.

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  • 1 Andrea Loselle, “The Historical Nullification of Paul Morand’s Gendered Eugenics,” in Melanie Hawth (...)
  • 2 Paul Morand, Magie Noire (Paris: Grasset, 1989), 128.
  • 3 On the trial, see Paul Avrich, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background (Princeton: Princeton U (...)
  • 4 “Nothing for the revolution, everything for education.” Morand, Magie Noire, 124.

1In “Syracuse ou l’homme-panthère”—a 1928 short story by French author and diplomat Paul Morand—Dr. Lincoln Vamp leaves the United States to attend the Pan-African Congress in Brussels. Morand, future ambassador of the Vichy Republic,1 portrays Vamp as a caricature of the prominent African American activist and scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Like Du Bois, Morand’s character is a refined and cultured man with a pronounced moralistic attitude. Meeting the other delegates at the Congress, Vamp is impressed by their fiery temperament and uncompromising stances.2 In a passionate speech, a man from Haiti evokes the Russian Revolution, Marcus Garvey’s Black nationalism, and the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti.3 The contrast with Vamp is striking. Just a few pages earlier, Morand depicts this aloof intellectual speaking in front of a US association which is a parody of the NAACP. On that occasion, Vamp expounds a program based primarily on reform and cultural uplift. His motto is, “Rien pour la révolution, tout par l’éducation.”4 The revolutionary tone of the attendees at the Pan-African meeting and the apparent cacophony of languages at the Congress, by contrast, leave him puzzled.

  • 5 Ibid., 136.

2During a pause between Congress sessions, Vamp pays a visit to the Museum of the Belgian Congo in Tervueren. There, something extraordinary happens. Following his contact with African artifacts and instruments, Vamp experiences a metamorphosis. Seduced by the call of a spirit, he comes to perceive himself as a black panther, hunted in the jungle. When the other delegates look for him the next day, he is nowhere to be found. But the Museum guards swear to have seen someone out of control, running out of the building. Dr. Vamp’s previously experienced distance from his Haitian counterparts at the Congress has apparently disappeared: the educated patrician has turned into the “homme panthère” and, figuratively, into a revolutionary Pan-Africanist.5

  • 6 The Second Pan-African Congress hosted one of its sessions in Brussels, and a visit to the Congo Mu (...)

3The conclusion of “Syracuse ou l’homme panthère” offers a crude and racist metaphor. The strange case of Dr. Vamp could be read as a reflection on the twofold character of early US Pan-Africanism. On the one hand, the movement expressed a radical critique of colonialism; on the other, it represented an attempt to cooperate with colonial powers to bring to life a new international order. Similar to the protagonist of Morand’s short story, Du Bois and the other US Pan-Africanists were activists imbued with an elitist and gradualist vision. Still, they were denounced by the pro-colonial press as dangerous Black nationalists, standing for the intransigent fraction within international Pan-Africanism. Like Dr. Vamp, they seemed to be hiding a second nature. Never was this contradiction more evident than during the Second Pan-African Congress in 1921, the one depicted by Morand.6 During the Brussels session, a split occurred among the delegates. On one side stood Dr. Du Bois, backed by the US delegation, and on the other French Pan-African leaders, such as the Senegalese Blaise Diagne and the Guadeloupean Gratien Candace. The European press saw the rift as a fight between partisans of the colonial order (Diagne and Candace) and radical anti-colonialists inspired by the teachings of Marcus Garvey (the Americans)—a paradoxical observation, given that Du Bois was one of Garvey’s principal opponents in the United States.

  • 7 Hakim Adi, Pan-Africanism: A History (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), 49-55.
  • 8 Jake Hodder, Michael Heffernan, and Stephen Legg, “The Archival Geographies of Twentieth-Century In (...)
  • 9 Sarah C. Dunstan, Race, Rights and Reform: Black Activism in the French Empire and the United State (...)

4This article interrogates the ambivalence of early US Pan-Africanism and its impact on the internal debate of the Second Pan-African Congress, with a focus on certain delegates from the US. These long-forgotten figures, who traveled across the Atlantic to attend the Congress, reveal a great deal about the features of interwar Black internationalism. Previous scholarship has hardly taken notice of them, and has often studied the Second Pan-African Congress as more of a chapter in the long history of the movement than as a significant episode per se. Several scholars have provided more detailed and nuanced analysis in recent years. In Pan-Africanism: A History, Hakim Adi centers the debate surrounding the event, focusing on an influential document discussed at the first session, the controversial manifesto “To the World.”7 Jake Hodder proposes an interdisciplinary approach, combining geographical and historical research in order to highlight features generally overlooked, such as the contributions made by little-known delegates and the importance of the conferences’ venues.8 Sarah C. Dunstan investigates the international dimension of the Congress, discussing how different national contexts informed Pan-African activism within a trans-Atlantic frame.9

5While enlarging the scope of analysis, these researchers nevertheless stress the critical role of W.E.B. Du Bois, and they could not do otherwise. He was without any doubt a towering leader, and the architect of the program defended by Pan-Africanists, along with close collaborators like Jessie Fauset, Rayford Logan, and Ida Gibbs Hunt. Any account of the Congress must start from an evaluation of his theoretical and organizational work, and this article is no exception. Still, by focusing mainly on Du Bois and his allies, scholars have often failed to provide a detailed inquiry into the other delegates who traveled to Europe to promote Du Bois’s political vision. Unlike Dr. Vamp, Du Bois was not alone in his journey. With him came delegates selected not so much for their political experience as for their positions within African American communities. They represented the Black intelligentsia which Du Bois regarded as the major actor in his Black internationalist project. An evaluation of their contributions can help to assess the double-sided nature of early US Pan-Africanism and its social basis, enriching the historiography of the movement.

6The article is structured in three sections. The first section provides a definition of early Pan-Africanism in relation to Du Bois’s classic concept of the Talented Tenth; the second section is devoted to an account of the US delegation at the Second Pan-African Congress; finally, the last section deals with the peculiar internationalism that motivated the Pan-Africanists.

1. Pan-Africanism and the Talented Tenth

  • 10 Du Bois organized four Pan-African Congresses between 1919 and 1927, picking up the baton from the (...)
  • 11 Frank C. Costigliola, Awkward Dominion: American Political, Economic, and Cultural Relations with E (...)
  • 12 Costigliola, Awkward Dominion, 25.
  • 13 Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial (...)

7Pan-Africanism has known several incarnations in its long history. W.E.B. Du Bois’s Pan-African Congress holds a position of particular importance in the development of the movement.10 To understand the prominent features of the Pan-African Congress requires situating it in its proper historical context. After World War I, political stability across the continents was jeopardized by resurgent nationalism, workers’ struggles, and socialist revolution. This tumultuous outlook was one of the reasons that prompted US President Woodrow Wilson to advocate for the League of Nations as a safeguard against global unrest. Several scholars have framed Wilsonianism as an attempt to govern an unruly world that channeled subversive impulses into an ordered peace without altering the existing balance of power at a domestic or international level.11 Isaiah Bowman, an adviser to President Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference, synthesized this concept by suggesting that “[t]he whole world is in revolt all the time, all that we care about is that it be a thoughtful revolt and a gradual one.”12 The League of Nations is widely known to have been imagined by Wilson as the key instrument for establishing a new international order. Even if this aspiration was never fulfilled, Wilsonian rhetoric aroused enthusiasm in colonial and semi-colonial subjects across the world, at least for a short period, with petitions, rallies, and nationalist movements spreading from Korea to Egypt. The emphasis put by the president on the idea of ‘self-determination,’ deprived of the revolutionary meaning of its Leninist formulation, was especially effective. The concept, as redefined by Wilson, was ambiguous enough to be intended as a restrictively European prerogative, as he originally saw it, or as a call for universal democracy regardless of race and culture. The corresponding universalistic notion of citizenship could be greeted with excitement by disenfranchised subjects and colonial leaders alike.13

  • 14 W.E.B. Du Bois, “The League of Nations,” The Crisis 18 (May 1919): 10-11.
  • 15 W.E.B. Du Bois, “Egypt and India,” The Crisis 18 (June 1919): 62; “Forward,” The Crisis 18 (Septemb (...)
  • 16 The United States government did not share this view, and feared exposure of segregation and lynchi (...)
  • 17 W.E.B. Du Bois, “Reconstruction and Africa,” The Crisis 17 (February 1919): 165.
  • 18 Letter from Pan-African Congress to League of Nations, ca. September 1921. MS 312.

8Although African Americans were not inclined to fall for a segregationist Southern Democrat like Woodrow Wilson, W.E.B. Du Bois shared the President’s opinion that an international symposium of national governments, albeit autocratic and imperialistic ones, could represent a step forward towards world peace. Undoubtedly, his own conception of peace was very different from Wilson’s. In fact, Du Bois welcomed the League as a supranational power capable of interfering in, or at least influencing, the racial politics of governments like South Africa and the United States.14 So, even if Du Bois expressed a (cautious) sympathy for Bolshevism and nationalist movements in Egypt and India, he was willing to take advantage of the tumultuous situation therein to advocate for a gradual program of democratic improvement for African peoples in the colonies.15 The Pan-African Congress aimed to represent an acceptable alternative to revolutionary anti-colonial revolts.16 At this stage, Du Bois did not believe in advocating a mass movement across the African continent. He espoused the liberal principle according to which freedom and democracy were the results of a collective political maturation. He apparently thought that most African peoples were unprepared for national independence and had to “be brought to a point of development which shall finally result in an autonomous state.”17 That is why, according to Du Bois, the League of Nations had to lead a process of cultural and civic uplift among those populations, with the indispensable aid of the world’s Black intelligentsia. To achieve this goal, the latter had to be recognized as political subjects able to exercise effective leadership. One of the complaints of Pan-Africanists was that “there is in the world today a widespread and growing feeling that it is permissible to treat civilized men as uncivilized if they are colored and more especially of Negro descent.”18

  • 19 W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Talented Tenth,” in W.E.B. Du Bois, Writings (New York: The Library of America (...)
  • 20 Ibid., 842.
  • 21 W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Conservation of Races,” in Du Bois, Writings, 815-826.

9In a way, the Pan-African program was a transposition onto an international scale of the notorious Talented Tenth concept, devised by Du Bois at the beginning of the twentieth century. In a 1903 essay, he explained that the “exceptional men” of the race had the duty to lead the uneducated masses.19 This elite, chosen by virtue of their temperament and education, could exercise their natural leadership role, and at the same time show white America that Black Americans did not need external tutelage. Thus, social differentiation among Black people was a fundamental task. An enlightened minority had to rise, Du Bois wrote, to eventually uplift the majority. Slavery had been nefarious in this respect, enforcing what he termed the “legalized survival of the unfit and the nullification of the work of natural internal leadership.”20 Now, it was time for a new tier of refined and cultured African Americans to emerge. From its start, this analysis was extended to the international arena, with a Pan-Africanist declination. Early in 1897, Du Bois’s essay on “The Conservation of Races” called for a “Pan-Negroism” uniting the “Darker Races,” stating that African Americans had the duty to lead the movement on the grounds of their superior state of civilization.21

  • 22 W.E.B. Du Bois, “The African Roots of the War,” in Philip S. Foner (ed.), W.E.B. Du Bois Speaks (Ne (...)
  • 23 Ibid., 254.
  • 24 Ibid.

10Two decades later, the sentiment was reinforced in an article assessing the origins of World War I, titled “The African Roots of the War.”22 Du Bois stated that “the principle of home rule must extend to groups, nations, and races. The ruling of one people for another people’s whim or gain must stop.” 23But this democratic claim was preceded by the recognition that, to obtain that goal, “we must train native races in modern civilization.” 24The significance of Du Bois’s “we” is clarified a few paragraphs later in what can be seen as an anticipation of the Pan-African Congress’s program:

  • 25 Ibid., 256.

11In this great work who can help us? In the Orient, the awakened Japanese and the awakening leaders of New China; in India and Egypt, the young men trained in Europe and European ideals, who now form the stuff that Revolution is born of. But in Africa? Who better than the twenty-five million grandchildren of the European slave trade, spread through the Americas and now writhing desperately for freedom and a place in the world? And of these millions first of all the ten million black folk of the United States, now a problem, then a world salvation.25

12From this point of view, African Americans would play the same role on an international level as the Talented Tenth in Black American society.

  • 26 W.E.B. Du Bois, “American Negroes and Africa’s Rise to Freedom,” in W.E.B. Du Bois, The World and A (...)
  • 27 W.E.B. Du Bois, What is wrong with the N.A.A.C.P., 18 May 1932, MS 312.
  • 28 Ibid., 4.
  • 29 For a different reading on Du Bois’s changing perspective, see Adolph Reed Jr., W. E. B. Du Bois an (...)

13In the years that followed, Du Bois profoundly altered his previously elitist vision, eventually rejecting the Talented Tenth concept as hopelessly flawed. Towards the end of his life, he embraced a more overtly class-conscious political perspective. As for the privileged role of African Americans he had envisioned in the global movement against white supremacy, he had to acknowledge that, contrary to his earlier expectations, anticolonial movements in African countries had taken the lead, providing powerful inspiration for Black Americans.26 By 1932, he argued in a speech to NAACP members27 that the idea that an aristocracy of talent could “uplift” the masses was, at best, anachronistic. The truth was that the most privileged were actually “more than apt to help in the continual subjection” of the workers.28 Therefore, the Black working class had to assume a central role in the struggle against racial oppression.29 This shift from an elitist to a socialist outlook came as the outcome of major historical events, such as the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the Great Depression, which influenced the particular development of Du Bois’s political thought and his progressive departure from the integrationist liberalism of the NAACP. In this regard, the twenties stood as a critical juncture. In the decade following World War I, radical leanings and moderate stances were both constitutive elements of Du Bois’s political elaboration. Accordingly, US Pan-Africanism was also marked by the coexistence of clashing perspectives.

  • 30 E. Franklin Frazier, Black Bourgeoisie (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), 173. Frazier himself too (...)
  • 31 This contradiction did not escape the notice of the socialist magazine The Messenger, edited by Ran (...)

14Notwithstanding Du Bois’s (at times contradictory) statements, the selection of the delegates itself stood as proof of his elitist outlook. The delegation exemplified an accurate depiction of the Talented Tenth of the 1903 essay: a group comprised of educated, politically engaged men and women, with a distinctive role in African American society. They were not so much Black businesspeople as members of the Black bourgeoisie, described in later years by E. Franklin Frazier, consisting mainly of reputable professionals such as teachers, school principals, barbers, and physicians.30 Generally speaking, the delegates did not come as members of political associations, let alone political parties. Their qualification was based on their affiliation with civic or religious groups such as churches, schools, and fraternal orders. On the other hand, the Black working class had no representation at all, and apparently no attempt was made to involve Black socialist leaders such as Asa Philip Randolph or Chandler Owen. Du Bois was more interested in making contact with foreign Labourites and radicals than he was in forging connections with the African American left.31

  • 32 Barbara Foley, Spectres of 1919: Class and Nation in the Making of New Negro (Chicago: University o (...)

15Despite Du Bois’s sympathy for the Socialist Party of America and the fact that white socialists like Florence Kelley took part in the Congress, his pessimism regarding the chance of an interracial working-class alliance in the United States, together with his personal bitterness toward other progressive Black leaders of the time, likely helped direct his choices when invitations and nominations had to be made. Financial concerns must have mattered as well, given the significant expense of the European trip and the necessity of relying on organizations such as the NAACP to raise the necessary funds. Above all, the Pan-African Congress met after a wave of political repression that began at least in the wake of the war and culminated in the persecution of anti-war activists, union leaders, and revolutionary militants during the Red Scare of 1919-1920. Even the relatively moderate NAACP did not fully escape the witch hunt. The climate was probably gloomy enough to discourage any attempt to get more leftist-oriented militants, who were facing economic and political barriers, to attend the Congress.32 Nevertheless, the selection of the delegation’s members remains highly indicative of a trend. Du Bois’s reliance on professionals and middle-class community leaders is further evidence of the elitism that informed the Pan-African Congress.

2. The US Delegation at the Second Pan-African Congress

  • 33 See Adi, Pan-Africanism, 49-55; Geiss, The Pan-African Movement, 240-251; Langley, Pan-Africanism a (...)
  • 34 See, among the others, “A propos du prochain Congrés Negre,” L’independance Belge, 19 June 1921; “N (...)
  • 35 On Marcus Garvey, see Judith Stein, The World of Marcus Garvey: Race and Class in Modern Society (B (...)
  • 36 Muzong W. Kodi, “The 1921 Pan-African Congress at Bruxelles: A Background to Belgian Pressures,” Tr (...)

16Due to its size and the number of the associations involved, the Second Pan-African Congress was the most remarkable of the meetings organized by Du Bois between 1919 and 1927. The symposium brought delegates from all over the world to European capitals between August 28 and September 5, with sessions in London, Brussels, and Paris. It expounded the potential of the movement, along with its main weakness, which was the lack of a common political perspective uniting its attendees, apart from their vague interest in the fate of African populations.33 The European press covered the 1921 Congress with both curiosity and suspicion. French and Belgian colonial officers were particularly concerned about the possible outcomes of discussions among the Africans.34 When the first Congress had taken place in Paris in February 1919, Garveyism was still taking its first steps, and the Third International had not yet met to discuss the Communist thesis on the colonial question.35 Things had changed by 1921, and the Second Pan-African Congress had to face new challenges.36

  • 37 Tyler Stovall, “Colour-Blind France? Colonial Workers During the First World War,” Race & Class 35 (...)
  • 38 “Editorial,” The Crisis 17 (March 1919): 215-216.
  • 39 W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Negro Mind Reaches Out,” in Alain Locke (ed.), The New Negro: An Interpretatio (...)

17Colonial powers knew they could trust Pan-Africanist leader Blaise Diagne. From Senegal, Diagne was elected to the French Chamber of Deputies in 1914 and played a central role in the recruitment of African troops for the French army during the war. He represented a portion of Senegal, the Four Communes (Quatre Communes), which was the only French territory in Africa whose (male) inhabitants enjoyed partial citizenship. With the outbreak of World War I, the empire required more soldiers and workers, and colonial officials in Africa and Asia undertook a forced recruitment campaign, which sparked revolts and widespread opposition. Diagne took pains to show that a different way was possible, relying on his political authority to persuade tens of thousands of compatriots to voluntarily join the army.37 For the French, the operation was an indisputable success and won Diagne the gratitude and respect of members of the government. Du Bois was amazed when he saw the extent to which an African official could hold such a prominent position in a European country.38 Diagne helped organize the first Pan-African Congress in 1919 and was appointed president of the new organization. His faith in French republicanism was so firm that, in later years, Du Bois dubbed him “a Frenchman who is accidentally black.”39

  • 40 “Two theories in presence: After Mr. Diagne had developed the French thesis, Mr. Burghardt du Bois (...)
  • 41 Ibid.
  • 42 For an account of the international diffusion of Garveyist ideas and organizations, see Ronald Jema (...)

18But if European governments knew that Diagne was not fond of revolutionary ideas, they were not so sure about the Americans. Beginning with the Brussels session of the Second Pan-African Congress, the contrast between Diagne and the US delegation became patently clear. La Dépêche coloniale et maritime, one of the main colonial newspapers in France, emphasized the contrast by titling its September 6 issue “Deux théories en presence: Aprés que M. Diagne eut développé la thèse française M. Burghardt du Bois exposa le programme américain.”40 In order to explain the reasons behind the feud, La Dépêche suggested that US delegates defended an “overtly communist” position advocating “race war,” while Diagne was willing to obtain sound results through collaboration and dialogue.41 Another article painted Diagne as a safeguard defending African peoples against Garveyite propaganda. Apparently, the pro-colonial press could not distinguish between the very different Pan-Africanist ideals embraced by the harsh competitors Du Bois and Garvey. From the colonialist point of view, internal divisions within the New Negro Movement mattered little, and every attempt to raise racial and national consciousness among Africans could be seen as part of a Garveyist, Bolshevik, or even German plot. European powers displayed a paranoic attitude, seeing Garvey’s fingerprints on every display of discontent inside the continent, far beyond his actual influence.42

19Apart from the crude simplifications of the European press, the clash with Diagne was real. The most divisive issue was the resolution voted on in the London session (from which Diagne was absent). The resolution, drafted by Du Bois and titled “To the World,” advocated the “ancient common ownership of the Land and its natural fruits and defense against the unrestrained greed of invested capital.” The manifesto ended by declaring,

  • 43 “To the World,” The Crisis 23 (November 1921): 9-10.

The world must face two eventualities; either the complete assimilation of Africa with two or three of the great world states, with political, civil and social power and privileges absolutely equal for its black and white citizens, or the rise of a great black African State, founded in Peace and Good Will, based on popular education, natural art and industry and freedom of trade, autonomous and sovereign in its internal policy, but from its beginning a part of a great society of peoples in which it takes its place with others as co-rulers of the world.43

  • 44 Du Bois, “The African Roots of the War,” 255.
  • 45 Blaise Diagne did not play any role in the organization of later Pan-African Congresses. Moreover, (...)

20Notwithstanding La Dépêche’s interpretation, “To the World” did not advocate ‘race war.’ Rather, it tried to present the Pan-Africanist program as the only alternative to the victory of an anti-colonialist movement. Du Bois had given a similar account in “The African Roots of the War,” in which he foresaw revolution and Black nationalism as the price that colonial powers would have to pay unless they implemented a reformist plan coordinated by a global Black intelligentsia.44 Unsurprisingly, these warnings remained unanswered. Even if “To the World” was far from being a revolutionary call, it nevertheless sounded ominous to unquestioning advocates of European rule in Africa. Eventually, the document was replaced with a more moderate statement at the Paris session, but the rift between the Americans and Diagne would never be completely mended.45

  • 46 For instance, Geiss devoted a paragraph to the US delegation in The Pan-African Movement. But his a (...)
  • 47 Jake Hodder, “The Elusive History,” 113-115.
  • 48 “110 Delegates to the Pan-African Congress by Countries,” The Crisis 23 (December 1921): 68.

21The debate saw the US delegation standing unquestionably as the radical wing of the Congress. Many accounts of the meeting stress this point, without assessing the equally important question of who composed this delegation—an admittedly difficult task.46 As Jake Hodder has discussed, the lack of reliable sources makes a historian’s work problematic. The “elusive history of the Pan-African Congress,” as Hodder describes it, is marked by inconsistencies, contradictions, and ambiguities. As Hodder suggests, the shortage of documents is itself telling historical evidence: it stems directly from the political fragmentation of this movement, which never structured itself into an effective organization.47 To know with precision who attended which sessions seems implausible at best. However, the official list printed in The Crisis provides some relevant clues about the identities of the members of the US delegation.48 As mentioned above, the delegation was largely comprised of members of the Black professional elite. There were twenty men and thirteen women, all of them Black except for three white members of the NAACP. Most of them are scarcely remembered today, although they were considered highly representative of Black leadership at the time. Some biographical sketches allow us to at least develop an idea of their background, briefly emphasizing the combined role of church, school, and fraternal settings in shaping their lives and their political outlooks.

  • 49 Clement Richardson (ed.), The National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race (Montgomery: National Publish (...)
  • 50 “Honors Planned for Dr. Hutto,” Tallahassee Democrat, 11 July 1968, 5.

22George Rubin Hutto, born in 1870 in South Carolina, was a member of the Baptist Church and the principal of the Bainbridge Public School. He was known as the Grand Chancellor of the Georgian branch of a Black Masonic order, the Knights of Pythias of Georgia. Du Bois could have easily boasted that a man like Hutto represented thousands of African Americans in the United States. Providing a list of preeminent Black leaders of the time, the massive 1919 National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race described him as “[a] man who is fearless in his endeavor to do the right things for his people, a man who has the courage of his convictions, a man who is a born leader of men.”49 Hutto attended both the 1919 and 1921 Pan-African Congresses as a US delegate. Upon his death in 1922, his wife, Addie E. Dillard, herself a delegate to the Second Congress, assumed his duties, becoming the principal of what would become known as Hutto High School.50

  • 51 William M. Cobb, “Henry Rutherford Butler,” Journal of the Medical National Association 51 (Septemb (...)
  • 52 Henry R. Butler, “The Trip Over,” Atlanta Independent, 8 September 1921, 1; Henry R. Butler, “Dr. B (...)
  • 53 “Pan American [sic] Congress A Great Success,” Atlanta Independent, 15 September 1921, 1.

23Dr. Henry R. Butler, born in 1862 in Georgia, was a member of the Masonry, coming to the Congress as a delegate of the Ancient Free Masons. Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia since 1901, Butler was also a well-known member of Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was celebrated for his outstanding work as a physician, being one of the first African Americans to obtain a pharmacy license in the state of Georgia.51 Butler was also a regular contributor to the Atlanta Independent and wrote various reports on the Congress for the newspaper. He recounted his impressions from the European trip and his assessment of French society, which Butler believed was devoid of both racial and class conflict.52 The Atlanta Independent also made explicit reference to the London manifesto. The newspaper omitted the most radical features of the document in its description, presenting it instead as an appeal for “enfranchisement based on educational qualification alone.”53 Butler came to the Congress with his wife and son, who were appointed as regular delegates.

  • 54 Emily M. Belcher, Alton Hornsby Jr., Ronald Woods (eds.), Contemporary Black Biography. Volume 98: (...)

24Butler’s wife, Selena Sloan, was born in 1872 in Georgia, the daughter of a white father and a mother of Native American and African American descent. A member of organizations such as the Eastern Star and the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Sloan was a lifelong activist who dedicated herself to child healthcare and instruction as the founder and first president of the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers Association. Her efforts resulted in a presidential nomination at the House Conference on Child Health and Protection in 1929. After her husband’s death, she lived with her son between England and the United States. During World War II, she organized the first Black women’s Red Cross chapter.54

  • 55 Butler, “The Trip Over,” 1.
  • 56 Frank Lincoln Mather (ed.), Who's Who of the Colored Race: A General Biographical Dictionary of Men (...)

25Hutto, Butler, and Sloan were undoubtedly representative of the upper echelon of Black American society, alternately labeled the ‘Talented Tenth’ or Black bourgeoisie. They shared some similarities with other US delegates at the Congress: they were of Southern descent, and they came of age during the early days of the Progressive Era. They were staunch integrationists, Sloan being a member of the Georgia Interracial Commission after the war, but they nevertheless spent most of their lives in Black institutions. Indeed, Black freemasonry and Black churches were critical to their stories, shaping the primary dimension of their public engagement. But they were also active on several other fronts. Apparently, in contrast to Garvey’s disciples and later Pan-Africanists, they were not particularly interested in investigating their African ancestry, and they were not radicals by any means, even in the sense that this term could be related to a mild socialist like Du Bois. In fact, H.R. Butler declared his intention to run as a Republican candidate in Georgia while he was still in Europe attending the Congress.55 We know the political leanings of at least two other delegates: Charles Henry Phillips Jr. was a longtime member of the GOP, while Archibald J. Carey had recently turned to the Democratic Party.56 Their affiliation with one of the two main US parties proves the distance between these activists and Black nationalist and socialist militants active contemporaneously in the United States, such as Hubert Harrison, Asa Philip Randolph, or Cyril Briggs.

  • 57 Alain Locke, “The New Negro,” in A. Locke (ed.), The New Negro, 11.
  • 58 A. Wilberforce Williams, “Dr. Williams Tell Defender Readers of Travel and Beauty in Foreign Land,” (...)

26The philosopher Alain Locke notoriously claimed that Black Americans were radicals on racial matters and conservatives on all other issues.57 As flawed as this assertion was in referring to the African American population in its entirety, it nevertheless describes, to some extent, most of the delegates at the Second Pan-African Congress. They were held back in their careers by racial barriers, and were thus advocates of egalitarian stances; as holders of prestigious positions in relation to the majority of the Black population, they were elitists, if not conservatives. Finally, their attitude toward their journey to Europe is worth noting. As previously indicated, in his reports for the Atlanta Independent, Butler stressed the beauty and pleasantness of Great Britain and France more than the plight of African peoples and other topics debated at the Congress. As a correspondent for The Chicago Defender, the renowned physician Dr. Wilberforce Williams wrote at length about the long European trip taken by a group of delegates after the Congress’ final sessions, from Geneva to Milan, and from Paris to Monte Carlo.58 Phillip F. Haynes, delegate for the Odd Fellows association, provided a similar account with a quasi-entrepreneurial outlook:

  • 59 “Editor Chiles Tells of Race Progress in his Travels Thru Missouri and Kansas,” The Topeka Plaindea (...)

Mr. P.F. Haynes who conducts one of the best barber shops in the city of St. Joseph, has just returned from Europe where he visited in London, France, Brussels, Rome and Belgium. He attended the Pan-African Congress and speaks very highly of the country and was impressed with the way people attend to business over there. In that country it is up to the man who has the ability, money and standing to make good.59

  • 60 Jake Hodder, “The Elusive History,” 120.

27This ‘Grand Tour’ attitude should be seen in the light of Hodder’s statement that many delegates only attended the conference because they were already in Europe for other reasons.60 Two events in particular, the Fifth Ecumenical Methodist Conference and the Third International Conference of Women, took place almost at the same time as the Congress, facilitating the participation of several attendees.

3. International Reform Movements

  • 61 1921 Proceedings of the Fifth Ecumenical Methodist Conference (New York: The Methodist Book Concern (...)
  • 62 Charles H. Phillips, C.H. Phillips to W.E.B. Du Bois, March 12, 1921, MS 312.
  • 63 C.H. Phillips, From the Farm to the Bishopric: An Autobiography (Nashville: Parthenon Press, 1932), (...)

28The Fifth Ecumenical Methodist Conference met almost immediately after the Pan-African Congress, between September 6 and 16, 1921, in the same location where the London session of the Conference had been hosted, in Central Hall, Westminster. Like the Pan-African meeting, it was an inter-racial, international event with a reformist attitude. For eleven days, a variety of religious and related subjects were discussed, including “the responsibilities of Capital and Labour” and “the awakening of woman.”61 A session was devoted to the question of race, with a debate on “inter-racial brotherhood.” Among the speakers were Charles Henry Phillips of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, who had written to Du Bois to make him aware of the forthcoming Ecumenical Conference, and to advise him to plan the meeting in order to allow the participation of Black Methodists.62 Du Bois wisely followed the suggestion, and the Congress gained a whole family of attendees: Charles Phillips himself; his son, Charles Phillips Jr.; Charles Jr.’s wife, Edna French; and Edna’s mother, Carrie French, a soprano singer from Chicago. Even the delegates from the African Methodist Episcopal Church (Archibald and Elizabeth Carey, John and Bertha K. Hurst, and Richard R. Wright Jr.), and another one from the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (Robert T. Brown), attended both meetings. Thus, more than one third of the US delegation came from a group that went to Europe primarily to attend the Methodist Conference.63

  • 64 1921 Proceedings of the Fifth Ecumenical Methodist Conference, 379.
  • 65 Ibid., 60.

29The minutes of the Conference are telling of the views held by these delegates. Richard R. Wright opened his long address on the topic of “The Church and Social Morality” by stating that he saw “no hope for solution of the problem of race in America except by the forces of Christianity.”64 Charles Phillips Jr. gave a speech in which he expressed his enthusiasm for the recently elected Republican President Warren Harding. Though he admitted that African Americans suffered due to racism, he nevertheless reiterated the patriotism of Black people and their unquestionable loyalty to the nation. Referring to the recent wave of political unrest, he predicted that it would “recede under the blows of a Christianized public sentiment as a snowball melts under the rays of a burning sun.”65

  • 66 Jane Addams, Peace and Bread in Time of War (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2002).
  • 67 Letter from W.E.B. Du Bois to Jane Addams, May 27, 1921, MS 312.
  • 68 Elisabetta Vezzosi, The International Strategy of African American Women at the Columbian Expositio (...)
  • 69 Report of the Third International Congress of Women, Vienna, July 10-17, 1921 (Geneva: Women’s Inte (...)
  • 70 W.E.B. Du Bois, “Close Ranks,” The Crisis 16 (July 1918): 111; Alice L. Conklin, “Who Speaks for Af (...)
  • 71 Report of the Third International Congress of Women, 78.

30The Ecumenical Conference was not the only international event in Europe at that time. Just a couple of weeks before the beginnings of the Pan-African Congress, the Third International Congress of Women took place in Vienna. The meeting was organized by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, a pacifist organization founded by Jane Addams in 1915.66 It was an international association that, similarly to the Pan-African Congress, tried to exert influence on the League of Nations. Du Bois wrote personally to Jane Addams to invite her to the Congress.67 She could not attend, but at least two delegates were present at both events: Florence Kelley, a renowned white activist engaged with labor, feminist, and racial issues since the end of the nineteenth century; and Helen Curtis, the wife of the US consul general to the Republic of Liberia. Curtis was an activist who would later join a Black women’s organization, the International Council of the Women of the Darker Races.68 She intervened during the debate on the “military use of native populations of colonies” in European armies.69 The resolution adopted by the conference denounced the dangerous and barbarous outcome of the military policies of the colonies, throwing African and Asian peoples into the belly of the beast. The position of the conference was different from the one discussed at the Pan-African Congress; both Du Bois and Diagne had actively contributed to the recruitment of Black soldiers.70 Curtis emphasized the suffering endured by African troops. She concluded by stating that she did not see any solution for the race question “until all use of force was stopped and until all nations disarmed.”71 In Vienna, Curtis officially represented the Pan-African Congress, which she would have attended as part of the Liberian delegation.

  • 72 Ibid., 86; 1921 Proceedings of the Fifth Ecumenical Methodist Conference, 156.
  • 73 Ibid., 31.

31The coincidence of these different international meetings taking place within a short time reveals the influence that the League of Nations exerted on a certain strain of liberal internationalism. The Pan-African Congress, the International Congress of Women, and the Ecumenical Methodist Conference, each in its own way, aimed to inform the forthcoming Assembly of the League at Geneva of its principles, whether by the demands of a Black intelligentsia, the “pressure . . . of the women of the world,” or restating “the fundamental principle underlying all brotherhood.”72 Many attendees from each meeting would have probably signed on to the statement made by a delegate at the Ecumenical Conference who pointed out that “God is reminding us, in the creation of the League of Nations, that the human race is the area within which we must think and plan and toil. This League is the greatest attempt that has yet been made to apply definitely a spiritual principle to international relationships.”73

4. Conclusion

  • 74 Rayford Logan, “The Historical Aspects of Pan-Africanism. A Personal Chronicle,” African Forum 1 (S (...)

32The firm belief that “the human race is the area within which we must think and plan and toil” shaped the humanitarian internationalism of the US delegates to the Second Pan-African Congress. Permeated by a Wilsonian ethos, it could be embraced by men and women who otherwise would have likely found little in common. Still, it could not be so easily reconciled with the patriotism of Blaise Diagne. To focus only on the obvious political differences between Diagne and Du Bois would be to miss the point: the debate within the Pan-African Congress cannot be explained as a simple clash of radical and conservative views. Neither can the whole controversy be dismissed as a linguistic misunderstanding, even if this interpretation came from as reliable a source as Rayford Logan, who personally acted as an interpreter between the two men. Logan stated that the advocacy for the ancient common property of African lands by the US delegates was mistaken by Diagne as a communard appeal.74

  • 75 Dunstan, Race, Rights and Reform, 36. See also Cheryl A. Wall, Women of the Harlem Renaissance (Blo (...)
  • 76 Jessie Fauset, “Impressions of the Second Pan-African Congress,” The Crisis 23 (November 1921): 12- (...)
  • 77 Ibid., 13-15.
  • 78 “To the World,” 7.

33Another firsthand witness, Jessie Fauset, herself a French interpreter and translator, pointed out the different views held by English and French-speaking delegates on the colonial question. Fauset, who in the following years would become a major novelist of the Harlem Renaissance, was the main collaborator of Du Bois and a visible participant at the Congress, delivering speeches on the condition of Black women in the United States and the role of the female Talented Tenth.75 A consistent contributor to The Crisis, she provided the NAACP magazine’s official account of the event, analyzing from her perspective the falling-out that occurred in Brussels and Paris.76 But her article “Impressions of the Second Pan-African Congress” seems an attempt to draw too sharp a distinction between the Americans and the other delegates. According to Fauset, the point of dissent was the difference in the evaluations of the Belgian government.77 That was no doubt a cause of friction. However, although Du Bois was critical of Belgian policy in Africa, he showed some confidence in the work of the Minister of Colonies Louis Franck, and the manifesto “To the World” gave considerable credit to the Belgian government’s “liberal program of reform for the future.”78 At the end of her piece, Fauset herself stressed the moderatism of the Pan-African Congress, with a revealing comparison to the League of Nations:

  • 79 Jessie Fauset, “Impressions,” 17.

It was especially arresting to notice that the Pan-African Congress and the Assembly of the League of Nations differed not a whit in essential methods. Neither attempted a hard and fast program. Lumbering and slow were the wheels of both activities. There had to be much talk, many explanations, an infinity of time and patience and then talk again. Neither the wrongs of Africa nor of the world, can be righted in a day nor in a decade. We can only make beginnings.79

  • 80 W.E.B. Du Bois, “Reconstruction and Africa,” The Crisis 17 (February 1919): 165-166.

34Neither the US nor any other delegation had espoused an openly anti-colonial agenda in the Congress. The program accepted by all was based on the assumption that African peoples needed to be trained and uplifted in order to finally enjoy full democratic rights. If the programs were similar, the perspectives were very different. Du Bois could be described, at least at this stage in the development of his thinking, as a gradualist anti-colonialist. Although he believed that internal reform of the colonial system was ultimately more feasible than its overthrow, his goal was nevertheless to pave the way for an Africa freed from European domination and exploitation.80

  • 81 See Eric Garcia-Moral, “Blaise Diagne: French Parliamentarian from Senegal,” in Unexpected Voices i (...)
  • 82 Goebel, Anti-Imperial Metropolis, 56-67.
  • 83 Francesca Bruschi, “Military Collaboration, Conscription and Citizenship Rights in the Four Commune (...)

35Diagne did not share this strategic goal. From his point of view, the conditions of French colonial subjects could not be improved outside of the political and organizational framework of the French empire. His views, which can be legitimately identified as overtly pro-colonial, stemmed from his material condition as an imperial official and were shaped by notions of race which prevailed in the French context.81 France did not promote, at least on paper, a racialized notion of citizenship. An African could become a naturalized French subject, although the task was admittedly difficult due to ethnocentric prejudices and bureaucratic obstacles. Authorities applied restrictive standards to assess the degree of assimilation into French society and culture if the applicant came from the colonies. Statistics show that foreigners were much more likely to be naturalized than colonial subjects.82 Given the particular history of their land as the oldest French possession in West Africa, the inhabitants of the Four Communes were considered originaires relative to the other Senegalese indigènes, and differentiated from the latter in being, at least nominally, full-fledged French citizens. Still, their civil and electoral rights were far from consolidated, and the colonial administration could actively discriminate against them based on their religious and cultural mores. As a result of his recruitment campaign, Diagne was able to move the focus of the debate from the ‘civilization’ requirement to patriotic duties. Previously exempted from compulsory military service, the soldiers from the Four Communes took part in the war as members of the metropolitan army and not, as did the other Senegalese recruits, as colonial tirailleurs. Having fought for the empire alongside other metropolitan citizens, their status could no longer be disputed. Diagne thus claimed to have strengthened the position enjoyed by his compatriots in the complex legal and racial framework of French colonialism.83

  • 84 “Congrès Panafricain”, Indépendance Belge, 3 September 1921, MS 312; “Notes Coloniales,” L’Echo de (...)
  • 85 “Grievances of the Coloured Peoples,” Morning Advertiser, 29 August 1921, MS 312.

36Diagne’s attachment to what he perceived as his ideal motherland was not relatable to the US delegates’ outlook on their country. Despite all their loyalty, reiterated by some delegates at the Ecumenical Conference, even the most well-to-do Black Americans were excluded from any influential institutional roles by white supremacy rule. They had little to lose by denouncing on a global scale how the ‘color line’ they knew so well operated. Even a man like Bishop Charles Henry Phillips, who was far from any radical leanings, politely opposed Diagne during the London manifesto debate.84 The rift in the Congress can be read as a demonstration of the difficulty of bringing together the national interests of Diagne and the internationalist liberalism of Du Bois and his cohorts. For African Americans, it would have been difficult to have the same confidence in the United States of Lynch Law and segregation that Diagne had in the French government. As NAACP officer Walter White was reported to have said at the London session of the Congress, “any loyalty . . . to a country whose Government failed to put down the savage crime of lynching must have its reservations.”85

37Finally, Diagne and Du Bois, while both elitists, cultivated different views on elitism. The former came to the Congress as an individual, representing Senegal by virtue of his political position. He saw himself as a spokesman for the French empire, and the Pan-African Congress as a stage for great personalities with political and diplomatic roles. Du Bois brought a contingent of more than thirty people to Europe, in addition to providing US delegates to fill the vacuum in the French and British delegations. He hoped that the Pan-African Congress would furnish a platform to mobilize a composite social stratum, however narrow. His concept of the Talented Tenth was rooted in an organicist reading of human society, according to which every leader has the duty to represent a significant portion of his people. It is not by chance that collective and hierarchical realities such as school, freemasonry, and the church played such a major role in so many of the US delegates’ biographies.

  • 86 For instance, in the very same years, Woodrow Wilson saw non-governmental organizations such as the (...)
  • 87 Alan Dawley, Changing the World: American Progressives in War and Revolution (Oxford: Princeton Uni (...)

38The US delegation was made up of activists who saw themselves as independent actors operating on a global scale, mainly through diplomacy and international conferences. Largely untouched by the revolutionary winds coming from Europe and the colonial countries, they framed themselves as expressions of an educated and socially engaged middle class, bearers of a worldview animated by rationality, moral urgency, and philanthropic spirit. In this regard, they had traits in common with concurrent reform movements, which looked optimistically to the postwar order as a scenario offering exciting and unprecedented possibilities. Their racial outlook marked a point of difference, given the unwillingness of the United States to recognize the Pan-Africanists as legitimate interlocutors. Unlike other internationalist associations, the Pan-African Congress could not be fully integrated into the American government’s foreign agenda.86 Quite the opposite, it was seen as a potential threat and an unwelcomed exposure of US racial disorders. Still, it shared with other reformer groups a missionary afflatus and, in many instances, a desire to spread the values of Protestant Christianity to which so many moralizing battles within the United States, including the recently victorious prohibitionist campaign that resulted in passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, had referred.87 Post-Wilsonian America provided these activists with a specific vocabulary and a distinctive international outlook. That historical context made possible the organization of the Pan-African Congresses. From this point of view, the movement represents a phenomenon particular to the interwar period.

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Notes

1 Andrea Loselle, “The Historical Nullification of Paul Morand’s Gendered Eugenics,” in Melanie Hawthorne, Richard J. Golsan (eds.), Gender and Fascism in Modern France (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1997), 101-118.

2 Paul Morand, Magie Noire (Paris: Grasset, 1989), 128.

3 On the trial, see Paul Avrich, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991); Michael Miller Topp, The Sacco and Vanzetti Case: A Brief History with Documents (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2005).

4 “Nothing for the revolution, everything for education.” Morand, Magie Noire, 124.

5 Ibid., 136.

6 The Second Pan-African Congress hosted one of its sessions in Brussels, and a visit to the Congo Museum was actually scheduled by the organizers on September 1. Members of the Pan-African Congress visit the Congo Museum, September 1, 1921, W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312), Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries (hereafter MS 312).

7 Hakim Adi, Pan-Africanism: A History (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), 49-55.

8 Jake Hodder, Michael Heffernan, and Stephen Legg, “The Archival Geographies of Twentieth-Century Internationalism: Nation, Empire and Race,” Journal of Historical Geography 71 (January 2021): 1-11; Jake Hodder, “The Elusive History of the Pan-African Congress, 1919-27,” History Workshop Journal 91 (Spring 2021): 113-131.

9 Sarah C. Dunstan, Race, Rights and Reform: Black Activism in the French Empire and the United States from World War I to the Cold War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021); Sarah C. Dunstan, “The Capital of Race Capitals: Toward a Connective Cartography of Black Internationalisms,” Journal of the History of Ideas 82 (October 2021): 637-660.

10 Du Bois organized four Pan-African Congresses between 1919 and 1927, picking up the baton from the Pan-African Association led by Henry Sylvester-Williams. Despite its denomination, the Fifth Pan-African Congress of 1945 is usually studied as separate from the first four meetings sponsored by Du Bois, on the basis of its different political inspiration and historical context. On the history of Pan-Africanism, see George Padmore, Pan-Africanism or Communism (London: Dennis Dobson, 1956); J. Ayodele Langley, Pan-Africanism and Nationalism in West Africa, 1900-1945: A Study in Ideology and Social Classes (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1973); Imanuel Geiss, The Pan-African Movement (London: Methuen Publishing, 1974); Peter Olisanwuche Esedebe, Pan-Africanism: The Idea and Movement, 1776-1991 (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1994); Adi, Pan-Africanism; Reiland Rabaka (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Pan-Africanism (New York: Routledge, 2020).

11 Frank C. Costigliola, Awkward Dominion: American Political, Economic, and Cultural Relations with Europe, 1919-1933 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984); Frank Ninkovich, The Wilsonian Century (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999).

12 Costigliola, Awkward Dominion, 25.

13 Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). See also Michael Goebel, Anti-Imperial Metropolis: Interwar Paris and the Seeds of Third-World Nationalism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 151-158; Dunstan, Race, Rights, and Reform, 49-57.

14 W.E.B. Du Bois, “The League of Nations,” The Crisis 18 (May 1919): 10-11.

15 W.E.B. Du Bois, “Egypt and India,” The Crisis 18 (June 1919): 62; “Forward,” The Crisis 18 (September 1919): 234-235.

16 The United States government did not share this view, and feared exposure of segregation and lynchings before an international audience. It therefore tried from the start to prevent the Congress from taking place, refusing passports to notable activists such as William Monroe Trotter. Geiss, The Pan-African Movement, 237.

17 W.E.B. Du Bois, “Reconstruction and Africa,” The Crisis 17 (February 1919): 165.

18 Letter from Pan-African Congress to League of Nations, ca. September 1921. MS 312.

19 W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Talented Tenth,” in W.E.B. Du Bois, Writings (New York: The Library of America, 1996), 842-861.

20 Ibid., 842.

21 W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Conservation of Races,” in Du Bois, Writings, 815-826.

22 W.E.B. Du Bois, “The African Roots of the War,” in Philip S. Foner (ed.), W.E.B. Du Bois Speaks (New York: Pathfinder Press Inc, 1970), 244-257.

23 Ibid., 254.

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid., 256.

26 W.E.B. Du Bois, “American Negroes and Africa’s Rise to Freedom,” in W.E.B. Du Bois, The World and Africa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 217.

27 W.E.B. Du Bois, What is wrong with the N.A.A.C.P., 18 May 1932, MS 312.

28 Ibid., 4.

29 For a different reading on Du Bois’s changing perspective, see Adolph Reed Jr., W. E. B. Du Bois and American Political Thought: Fabianism and the Color Line (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 83-89. According to Reed, elitism remained a prominent feature of Du Bois’s thought even during his later years.

30 E. Franklin Frazier, Black Bourgeoisie (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), 173. Frazier himself took part in the Second Pan-African Congress, representing the Danish delegation. He intervened at the Paris session, denouncing D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. “Le Congrés Pannoir,” La Petit Parisien, September 6, 1921, MS 312; E. Franklin Frazier, “Birth of a Nation Shown in Denmark,” Afro-American, 14 October 1921, 7. For a different perspective on Black Bourgeoisie, see Willard B. Gatewood, Aristocrats of Color: The Black Elite, 1890-1920 (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1990); Martin Kilson, Transformation of the African American Intelligentsia, 1880-2012 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012).

31 This contradiction did not escape the notice of the socialist magazine The Messenger, edited by Randolph and Owen, which commented on Du Bois’s ambiguous attitude toward organized labor by stating: “It is rather anomalous to see the highly anti-labor doctor of philosophy so interested in labor in England, while in America he writes whole editorials urging the defeat of organized railroad labor in its contest with the railroad managers. . . . We shall see to it that French and British labor leaders are well informed on this matter.” “Editorials,” The Messenger 3 (October 1921): 257.

32 Barbara Foley, Spectres of 1919: Class and Nation in the Making of New Negro (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2003); Michael Kazin, War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017).

33 See Adi, Pan-Africanism, 49-55; Geiss, The Pan-African Movement, 240-251; Langley, Pan-Africanism and Nationalism in West Africa, 71-84.

34 See, among the others, “A propos du prochain Congrés Negre,” L’independance Belge, 19 June 1921; “Noir contre Blanc,” Neptune, 25 June 1921, Les papiers personnels Paul Otlet (PP PO 0819/1), Centre d'archives de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Mons. “Notes coloniales a la veille du Congres Pan-Negre,” L’Echo de la Bourse, 28 August 1921; “Le movement pan-noir,” Le Matin, 31 August 1921, MS 312.

35 On Marcus Garvey, see Judith Stein, The World of Marcus Garvey: Race and Class in Modern Society (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986); Adam Ewing, The Age of Garvey: How a Jamaican Activist Created a Mass Movement and Changed Global Black Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014). On the Comintern, the colonial question, and African Americans see Mark Solomon, The Cry Was Unity: Communists and African Americans, 1917-36 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998); Hakim Adi, Pan-Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa and the Diaspora, 1919-1939 (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2013).

36 Muzong W. Kodi, “The 1921 Pan-African Congress at Bruxelles: A Background to Belgian Pressures,” Transafrican Journal of History 13 (1984): 48-73.

37 Tyler Stovall, “Colour-Blind France? Colonial Workers During the First World War,” Race & Class 35 (October 1993): 35-55; Tyler Stovall, “The Color Line Behind the Lines: Racial Violence in France During the Great War,” The American Historical Review 103 (June 1998): 737-769; Christian Koller, “The Recruitment of Colonial Troops in Africa and Asia and their Deployment in Europe During the First World War,” Immigrants & Minorities 26 (November 2008): 111-133. In at least one case, in what would be known as the Volta-Bani War between 1915 and 1916, French military policy caused a massive uprising in an area encompassing the present Burkina Faso and the Republic of Mali. A bloody repression followed the revolt. Thomas Vennes, “Understanding Colonial Violence: Military Culture, Colonial Context and the Civilizing Mission in the Volta-Bani War (1915–1916),” Strata 8 (2018): 87-104; Mahir Şaul, Patrick Royer, West African Challenge to Empire: Culture and History in the Volta-Bani Anticolonial War (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2022).

38 “Editorial,” The Crisis 17 (March 1919): 215-216.

39 W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Negro Mind Reaches Out,” in Alain Locke (ed.), The New Negro: An Interpretation (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2021), 364.

40 “Two theories in presence: After Mr. Diagne had developed the French thesis, Mr. Burghardt du Bois presented the American program.” “Deux théories en presence,” La Dépêche coloniale et maritime, 6 September 1921, 1.

41 Ibid.

42 For an account of the international diffusion of Garveyist ideas and organizations, see Ronald Jemal Stephens, Adam Ewing (eds.), Global Garveyism (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2019).

43 “To the World,” The Crisis 23 (November 1921): 9-10.

44 Du Bois, “The African Roots of the War,” 255.

45 Blaise Diagne did not play any role in the organization of later Pan-African Congresses. Moreover, his overtly pro-colonial stances in the following years created a barrier between himself and African radicals in France. See Alice L. Conklin, “Who Speaks for Africa? The René Maran-Blaise Diagne Trial in 1920s Paris,” in Sue Peabody, Tyler Stovall (eds.), The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003), 302-337.

46 For instance, Geiss devoted a paragraph to the US delegation in The Pan-African Movement. But his account is not short of factual errors, the number of official delegates being mistakenly reported as 24, instead of 33. Geiss, The Pan-African Movement, 241.

47 Jake Hodder, “The Elusive History,” 113-115.

48 “110 Delegates to the Pan-African Congress by Countries,” The Crisis 23 (December 1921): 68.

49 Clement Richardson (ed.), The National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race (Montgomery: National Publishing Company, 1919), 133.

50 “Honors Planned for Dr. Hutto,” Tallahassee Democrat, 11 July 1968, 5.

51 William M. Cobb, “Henry Rutherford Butler,” Journal of the Medical National Association 51 (September 1959): 406-408.

52 Henry R. Butler, “The Trip Over,” Atlanta Independent, 8 September 1921, 1; Henry R. Butler, “Dr. Butler’s Observations,” Atlanta Independent, 29 September 1921, 1.

53 “Pan American [sic] Congress A Great Success,” Atlanta Independent, 15 September 1921, 1.

54 Emily M. Belcher, Alton Hornsby Jr., Ronald Woods (eds.), Contemporary Black Biography. Volume 98: Profiles from the International Black Community (Gale: Farmington Hills, 2012), 30-32.

55 Butler, “The Trip Over,” 1.

56 Frank Lincoln Mather (ed.), Who's Who of the Colored Race: A General Biographical Dictionary of Men and Women of African Descent (Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1976), 217; Dennis C. Dickerson, African American Preachers and Politics: The Careys of Chicago (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010).

57 Alain Locke, “The New Negro,” in A. Locke (ed.), The New Negro, 11.

58 A. Wilberforce Williams, “Dr. Williams Tell Defender Readers of Travel and Beauty in Foreign Land,” The Chicago Defender, 26 November 1921, 2.

59 “Editor Chiles Tells of Race Progress in his Travels Thru Missouri and Kansas,” The Topeka Plaindealer, 11 November 1921, 1.

60 Jake Hodder, “The Elusive History,” 120.

61 1921 Proceedings of the Fifth Ecumenical Methodist Conference (New York: The Methodist Book Concern, 1921), 252; 395.

62 Charles H. Phillips, C.H. Phillips to W.E.B. Du Bois, March 12, 1921, MS 312.

63 C.H. Phillips, From the Farm to the Bishopric: An Autobiography (Nashville: Parthenon Press, 1932), 246-247.

64 1921 Proceedings of the Fifth Ecumenical Methodist Conference, 379.

65 Ibid., 60.

66 Jane Addams, Peace and Bread in Time of War (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2002).

67 Letter from W.E.B. Du Bois to Jane Addams, May 27, 1921, MS 312.

68 Elisabetta Vezzosi, The International Strategy of African American Women at the Columbian Exposition and Its Legacy: Pan-Africanism, Decolonization and Human Rights, in Guido Abbattista (ed.), Moving Bodies, Displaying Nations: National Cultures, Race and Gender in World Expositions Nineteenth to Twenty-first Century (Trieste: Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2014).

69 Report of the Third International Congress of Women, Vienna, July 10-17, 1921 (Geneva: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 1921), 78.

70 W.E.B. Du Bois, “Close Ranks,” The Crisis 16 (July 1918): 111; Alice L. Conklin, “Who Speaks for Africa? The René Maran-Blaise Diagne Trial in 1920s Paris,” 302-337.

71 Report of the Third International Congress of Women, 78.

72 Ibid., 86; 1921 Proceedings of the Fifth Ecumenical Methodist Conference, 156.

73 Ibid., 31.

74 Rayford Logan, “The Historical Aspects of Pan-Africanism. A Personal Chronicle,” African Forum 1 (Summer 1965), 96.

75 Dunstan, Race, Rights and Reform, 36. See also Cheryl A. Wall, Women of the Harlem Renaissance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995); Sharon L. Jones, Rereading the Harlem Renaissance: Race, Class and Gender in the Fiction of Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dorothy West (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2002).

76 Jessie Fauset, “Impressions of the Second Pan-African Congress,” The Crisis 23 (November 1921): 12-17.

77 Ibid., 13-15.

78 “To the World,” 7.

79 Jessie Fauset, “Impressions,” 17.

80 W.E.B. Du Bois, “Reconstruction and Africa,” The Crisis 17 (February 1919): 165-166.

81 See Eric Garcia-Moral, “Blaise Diagne: French Parliamentarian from Senegal,” in Unexpected Voices in Imperial Parliaments, eds. Josep M. Fradera, José María Portillo, Teresa Segura-Garcia (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021). As Garcia-Moral suggests, “[Diagne’s] objective, even in his most ‘radical’ phase, was never the complete emancipation of Africans but rather recognition as equals within the French Empire.” Ibid., 252.

82 Goebel, Anti-Imperial Metropolis, 56-67.

83 Francesca Bruschi, “Military Collaboration, Conscription and Citizenship Rights in the Four Communes of Senegal and in French West Africa (1912–1946),” in The World in World Wars: Experiences, Perceptions and Perspectives from Africa and Asia, eds. Heike Liebau, et al.  (Leiden: Brill, 2010); Sarah Zimmerman, “Citizenship, Military Service and Managing Exceptionalism: Originaires in World War I,” in Empires in World War I: Shifting Frontiers and Imperial Dynamics in a Global Conflict, eds. Richard S. Fogarty, Andrew Tait Jarboe (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014).

84 “Congrès Panafricain”, Indépendance Belge, 3 September 1921, MS 312; “Notes Coloniales,” L’Echo de la Bourse, 6 September 1921, Les papiers personnels Paul Otlet (PP PO 0819/1).

85 “Grievances of the Coloured Peoples,” Morning Advertiser, 29 August 1921, MS 312.

86 For instance, in the very same years, Woodrow Wilson saw non-governmental organizations such as the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) as valuable allies in enforcing the international projection of the United States. See Ian Tyrrell, Reforming the World: The Creation of America's Moral Empire (Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2010), 191-208. It is worth noting that several Pan-Africanist women, from Addie Hunton to Helen Curtis, were involved in the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA). See Laura Moore, “ ‘The Fighting Had Ceased But… Democracy Had Not Won’: Helen Noble Curtis and the Rise of a Black International Feminism in World War I France,” Journal of Women's History 30 (Winter 2018): 109-133.

87 Alan Dawley, Changing the World: American Progressives in War and Revolution (Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2003); Tyrrell, Reforming the World.

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References

Electronic reference

Emanuele Nidi, “Rien pour la révolution, tout par l’éducation”: The Talented Tenth at the Second Pan-African CongressEuropean journal of American studies [Online], 18-2 | 2023, Online since 30 July 2023, connection on 13 April 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/ejas/20347; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/ejas.20347

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About the author

Emanuele Nidi

Emanuele Nidi is a Ph.D. candidate in International Studies at the University of Naples L'Orientale. His dissertation examines the Second Pan-African Congress of 1921 and the development of W.E.B. Du Bois’s political thought in the interwar period. His research interests include Pan-Africanism, Black nationalism, and violent self-defense in African American history.

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The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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