Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An African-American activist in the court of Mao: The life of Robert F. Williams

"In the United States, February is Black History Month: that last bastion of separate (blacks aren’t part of US history in November?) and unequal (the shortest month of the year). But it did get me thinking about African-American influences in China. One notable example was Robert F. Williams, the civil rights activist and “militant revolutionary nationalist” who moved to China with his wife Mabel at the invitation of Mao Zedong in 1966. Williams and his wife lived in China for three years and if you think your average lao wai gets stared at now, imagine being a black man walking the streets of Beijing at the height of the Cultural Revolution. Williams returned to the USA in 1969, and in his later years this former autoworker and fugitive became a scholar-in-residence at the University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies."