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An African American and Latinx History of the United States

April 11, 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm EDT

The Baton Foundation, in partnership with the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, is excited to host a lecture about the consequential role Blacks, Latinx and Indigenous peoples played in creating the United States. This program is free to the public, but registration is required.

About the Book

Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States (Beacon Press, 2018) is a revolutionary, politically charged narrative history, arguing that the “Global South” was crucial to the development of America as we know it. Scholar and activist Paul Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress as exalted by widely taught formulations like “manifest destiny” and “Jacksonian democracy,” and shows how placing Black, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms U.S. history into one of the working class organizing against imperialism.

Drawing on rich narratives and primary source documents, Ortiz links racial segregation in the Southwest and the rise and violent fall of a powerful tradition of Mexican labor organizing in the twentieth century, to May 1, 2006, known as International Workers’ Day, when migrant laborers—Chicana/os, Afro-Cubans, and immigrants from every continent on earth—united in resistance on the first “Day Without Immigrants.” As Black civil rights activists fought Jim Crow laws and Mexican labor organizers warred against the suffocating grip of capitalism, Black and Spanish-language newspapers, abolitionists, and Latin American revolutionaries coalesced around movements built between people from the United States and people from Central America and the Caribbean. In stark contrast to the resurgence of “America First” rhetoric, Black and Latinx intellectuals and organizers today have historically urged the United States to build bridges of solidarity with the nations of the Americas.

Incisive and timely, this bottom-up history, told from the interconnected vantage points of Latinx and Black Americans, reveals the radically different ways that people of the diaspora have addressed issues still plaguing the United States today, and it offers a way forward in the continued struggle for universal civil rights. An African American and Latinx History of the United States won the 2018 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award. PURCHASE BOOK HERE.

A concise, alternate history of the United States…A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

An epic, panoramic account of class struggles in the Western Hemisphere. At center stage are the Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people who built the “new world.” —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

Paul Ortiz’s “African American and Latinx History of the United States” provides an essential frame for understanding how freedom struggles dating back to the eighteenth century inform today’s entrenched inequality and systemic racism across diasporas. This is a necessary text for reconceptualizing American history, and Ortiz meticulously establishes historical precedent for multiethnic coalition building that extends beyond geographical borders to restore dignity and architect descriptive and substantive representation. —Sonja Diaz, executive director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Latino Policy and Politics Initiative

About the Author

Paul Ortiz is director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and professor of history at the University of Florida. He serves on the Faculty Advisory Council for the University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies.

Dr. Ortiz is a third-generation military veteran and a first-generation university graduate. His pathway to academia included years of organizing work with the United Farm Workers, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFSCME and many other unions. He is currently president of the United Faculty of Florida-UF (FEA/NEA/AFT/AFL-CIO) the union that represents tenured and non-tenure-track faculty at the University of Florida. In 2013, he received the César E. Chávez Action and Commitment Award from the Florida Education Association, AFL-CIO.

Dr. Ortiz co-edited Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South which received the Lillian Smith Book Award from the Southern Regional Council. He also has published essays in Latino Studies, The American Historical Review, Cultural Dynamics, The Oral History Review, Truthout, Southern Exposure, Kalfou, the Florida Historical Quarterly, and many other journals. Additionally, Professor Ortiz has been interviewed by Agencia De Noticias Del Estado Mexicano, ARD German Radio and Television, Newsweek, Telemundo, The Guardian, The Undefeated, ABC News, BBC, Hong Kong Daily Apple, and a variety of media on the histories of voter suppression, social movements, immigration, Latinx & African American history among other topics.

Professor Ortiz received his Ph.D. in history from Duke University in 2000. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the Evergreen State College in 1990 and his Associate of Arts degree from Olympic College in 1988. Currently, Dr. Ortiz is finishing three books. Among them, People Power: History, Organizing, and Larry Goodwyn’s Democratic Vision in the Twenty-First Century which will be published by the University Press of Florida in 2021.

Register for Zoom Lecture Here


April 11, 2021
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm EDT
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