Authors: Willie Wright*, Department of Geography
Topics: Economic Geography, Social Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: Ujamaa, African Socialism, Mississippi, New Afrikan
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Governors Square 12, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
In March of 1968, a collection of Black revolutionaries gathered in Detroit, Michigan for a two-day conference to deliberate on the nation question, specifically whether Black people in the United States represented a nation within a nation – a people deserving of sovereignty and territorial integrity. What emerged from those two days was the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (PGRNA), a government by and for self-ascribed New Afrikans. The PGRNA called for reparations from the US government, geopolitical recognition from the United Nations, and national territory in the former Black Belt South. This paper addresses one of the PGRNA’s lesser known desires, a cooperative system of economics based on African socialism (i.e. Ujamaa). I argue that Ujamaa, an African system of economic based first modeled by former President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, had at its core a spatial imperative. The potential success of this program was dependent upon the PGRNA’s ability to formulate cooperative communities among five states in the Deep South (i.e. New Afrika). These New Communities, as they were called, would provide the social, spatial, and infrastructural basis for this New Afrikan nation. I conclude with a discussion of how the PGRNA’s vision for New Communities has found renewed purpose in the city of Jackson, where Black-led cooperative initiatives are re-spatializing the PGRNA’s territorial and economic goals.