Our History Has Always Been Contraband
In Defense of Black Studies
Published by: Haymarket Books
Imprint: Haymarket Books
Since its founding as a discipline, Black Studies has been under relentless attack by social and political forces seeking to discredit and neutralize it. Our History Has Always Been Contraband was born out of an urgent need to respond to the latest threat: efforts to remove content from an AP African American Studies course being piloted in high schools across the United States. Edited by Colin Kaepernick, Robin D. G. Kelley, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Our History Has Always Been Contraband brings together canonical texts and authors in Black Studies, including those excised from or not included in the AP curriculum.
Featuring writings by: David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, James Baldwin, June Jordan, Angela Y. Davis, Robert Allen, Barbara Smith, Toni Cade Bambara, bell hooks, Barbara Christian, Patricia Hill Collins, Cathy J. Cohen, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Saidiya Hartman, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and many others.
Our History Has Always Been Contraband excerpts readings that cut across and between literature, political theory, law, psychology, sociology, gender and sexuality studies, queer and feminist theory, and history. This volume also includes original essays by editors Kaepernick, Kelley, and Taylor, elucidating how we got here, and pieces by Brea Baker, Marlon Williams-Clark, and Roderick A. Ferguson detailing how we can fight back.
To read Our History Has Always Been Contraband is to be an outlaw for liberation. These writings illuminate the ways we can collectively work toward freedom for all—through abolition, feminism, racial justice, economic empowerment, self-determination, desegregation, decolonization, reparations, queer liberation, cultural and artistic expression, and beyond.
Preface by Colin Kaepernick ix
Part One: HOW WE GOT HERE
On Racial Justice, Black History, Critical Race Theory,
and Other Felonious Ideas 2
Robin D. G. Kelley
Black Studies Is Political, Radical, Indispensable, and Insurgent 16
Part Two: THE HISTORY THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW
Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World (1829) 26
“The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” (July 5, 1852) 28
“The New Master and Mistress” from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) 33
“Our Raison D’être” from A Voice from the South (1892) 35
Anna Julia Cooper
“Introduction” from Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” (1931) 37
Zora Neale Hurston
“Political Education Neglected” from The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933) 41
Carter G. Woodson
“The Propaganda of History” from Black Reconstruction in America (1935) 44
W. E. B. Du Bois
“The San Domingo Masses Begin” from The Black Jacobins (1938) 48
C. L. R. James
“The Origin of Negro Slavery” from Capitalism and Slavery (1944) 50
“A Talk to Teachers” (October 16, 1963) 53