Associate Professor of history Russell Rickford’s book, “We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination,” has received the 2017 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award from the Organization of American Historians, given to the best book by a historian on the civil rights struggle.
In his book, Rickford discusses the Pan African nationalist private schools which arose during the height of the Black Power movement during the 1960s and 1970s. These schools aimed to teach academics as well as to foster a sense of African identity; however, the schools were often accused of teaching hate and were regularly targeted by authorities. “We Are an African People” explores the political, cultural, and social revitalization during this era and uses it to discuss current education reform, race, and identity.
Rickford received a B.A. from Howard University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. After teaching at Dartmouth for five years, he came to Cornell in 2014. He is editor of “Beyond Boundaries: The Manning Marable Reader” and author of “Betty Shabazz: Surviving Malcolm X,” the only major biography of Malcolm X’s late widow. He is the co-author, along with his father, Stanford University linguist John Rickford, of “Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English.”
His current research project is a book about Guyana and radical African-American politics in the 1970s.